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Stories: Children, Community, Future

MAKING POSITIVE CHANGES TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY TOGETHER

Every child has the right to a healthy start in life. In Hoa Binh province, the ‘Equal access to quality health services for mothers and children in mountainous areas’ project has created many positive changes in the local community and to changing the way locals think about maternal health and childcare.

Thong, a mother who took part in the program, said: “Before the project, my family did not know how to use vegetables in the garden, eggs from domestic chickens to supplement the children’s meals. I also didn’t know about ’colourising the bowl’ to make children’s meals more beautiful and nutritious. Only when the project took place did we start to pay attention to this”.

Thong is picking vegetables in her garden to prepare food for her children

Another young mother said: “When I was pregnant, I was also given micronutrients to take until 3 months after giving birth. Every 3 months, there is a weighing session to know the health status of the baby. When my first child was born in 2012, I did not receive micronutrients. At that time, a rich family would buy iron to drink every month, but I could not do this. At that time, I was also given a ‘Maternal and Child Health Monitoring’ book, but when I returned home, I did not pay much attention to it. Now, equipped with new knowledge on how to use the book, I have been storing it carefully.”

In addition to those mothers, many fathers also shared that training activities on child health care have many practical applications in their daily lives.

One father, Hau has acquired knowledge on how to take care of children after taking part in the project. He said: “In December 2021, my child showed signs of stunting. Recalling the knowledge that was shared and consulting with the village health worker, I supplemented my child’s meals with more nutrients for bone growth and paid more attention to the daily meal portion. In March 2022, according to the village health measurement, my child has shown development. We have yet to overcome malnutrition, however, I will keep taking good care of my child in the future.”

Hau is taking his child to weighing session and listening to advices from village health workers on his child’s growth 

Talking about the time before the project was launch, Thuy, a village health worker who has been working to implement the project since 2019, said: “Before the project, I saw very few families with young children paying attention to their children’s health. When parents see their child not eating, they think that the child must be sick and will eat after a few days. When parents had the time they would cook white porridge, but when they are busy, they buy instant porridge which is less nutritious.”

“When one–two month-old babies cry, parents still follow the old belief that if babies are hungry, they should chew rice to feed them, ground up rice to cook or buy porridge for their children to eat. They also do not know how to ensure all four groups of nutrients in children’s meals”, she added.

After witnessing positive changes in the local community, Thuy said: ” I’m proud to have played a small part to influence the change of caregivers! Hopefully in the future, the project will continue to improve the malnutrition of children here.”

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