So begins the story of one 30-year-old women with whom CWS is proud to work in Myanmar. “I live with my husband, Ko Aung Win, and our two sons, Kaung Khant Aung, who is 10 years old and in Grade 4 and Aung Phone Khant, who is just 14 months old. During the dry season (October to April) our family grows chili on land we are fortunate to own, and my husband works as a boat engine repair mechanic during the rainy season, which lasts the rest of the year. My full-time job is to take care of my two sons and look after the house, which is a lot of work, really. I think I am a good mother, and I thought that I was feeding my sons well. So, when I learned from the village Midwife that my younger son was malnourished, I could not believe it.” So, she continues, “I wanted to understand how this was possible, and to help Aung Phone Khant grow up healthy”.
When she heard there was a chance to know more about young child health and nutrition, Ma Swe said, “I joined the nutrition and sanitation education sessions CWS was offering to mothers and other child caregivers in our village. For the first session, I had a really hard time to understand what the CWS education team members were talking about. But gradually, I understood more about basic nutrition, different aspects of hygiene and the essentials of good sanitation. We heard talks, saw demonstrations, could ask questions and get answers and we also had time together to practice what we were learning about safe food preparation.” Now, says Ma Swe, “I have changed the ways I prepare food for my sons and how I feed my younger son. One main difference is that now I always wash my hands before cooking and before I help Aung Phone Khant eat. I have changed our diet, too; I cook vegetables and meats for my family at least once each day. Since I have added new foods to complement my breast-feeding for my younger son, his weight has been gradually increased and he is a healthier child.”
In ending her story, Ma Swe said, “At first my husband thought it was a waste of time for me to join in education sessions, but after a few months, he noticed the growth of our younger son. He has realized the benefit of education and new information, too, and so volunteered to be water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) committee member. He then learned about having and using safe water, with details about household water treatment and safe storage, how to properly maintain wells with hand-pumps and about group management so the WASH Committee could work well. Both of us see the power of new knowledge and having correct information that has helped us change our attitudes and behavior, which has had positive impacts not only on our family wellbeing but also our community’s development.”
(For more information please contact IKhreusirikul@cwsglobal.org )