Fighting Malnutrition Among the Karen
Naw San is a mother of three children living in the Kayin state of the country of Myanmar (also known as Burma). A member of the Karen ethnic group, Naw San has lived most of her life in fear of the ongoing civil conflict between the government soldiers and the Karen people. It is only in the last few years that a peace agreement has brought a welcome stability to her life and village.
Cut off from the world for so many years, this part of Myanmar is just now gaining access to services of healthcare and education. It is only recently that ADRA has been able to start working in some of the more remote villages of the Kayin State. One of the programs sponsored by ADRA Canada is helping mothers learn important principles of good nutrition that is helping to improve the health of their young children.
Naw San is one of the mothers that has been attending the ADRA training. Here is her story:
“My husband and I have a small farm here near our home. We grow mostly rice and a little sugar cane. Most everything that we grow we use ourselves. We sell a little bit each year to have a little money to buy household items. I have two older sons, age 21 and 17. When I was pregnant with them I didn’t change my diet in any way. I didn’t even know that it was important to eat differently when you are pregnant.
When I got pregnant with my youngest child when I was 43 years old. The midwife at the health clinic told me I should start eating lots of vegetables and greens, but didn’t really explain why. The vegetables in the marketplace are quite expensive so even after getting the advice from the midwife, we didn’t make any big changes to our diet at the time. We continued eating mostly rice, along with a few wild greens that we would harvest from the jungle.
It was only about six months ago, when I started going to the ADRA training program that started up here in our village, that I really began to understand why it was important to include a good variety of foods in our daily meals. When the ADRA staff weighed my baby they found that he was underweight for his age. They explained that the reason that he was underweight and often sick, was because he was not getting balanced meals with a good variety of foods. I decided that it was time to become serious about good nutrition for my family.
With the training that I have received from ADRA I have started my own kitchen garden where I am growing spinach, water cress, and all kinds of vegetables. ADRA has taught us how to grow all of these healthy foods organically, without the use of chemical fertilizers. The ADRA program has also given us a lot of information about the importance of hygiene, of keeping our house, our bodies and the grounds around our house clean.
Since I have started feeding my family from my garden, all of us have become healthier. My little boy has gained weight and is much more active.
I am so thankful that ADRA started working here! I am planning to attend all of the training that they will be doing here. I am very anxious to learn more ways that I can improve the health of my family. Thank you ADRA!”