Stories of Change

Ma Khaing with her daughter, May Phu Khaing.

Last year, nearly 19,000 people benefited from CWS and partner initiatives in Myanmar.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Chickens, vegetables and dedicated parents mean a healthier child in Myanmar

Put yourself in Thin Thin Khaing’s shoes for a minute. Imagine being a 27-year-old who lives in rural Myanmar with your husband and four-year-old daughter. Your family has about an acre of land, which you can use to grow chilies during the dry season. You earn about $29 each month selling chilies for the six months of the year when your land isn’t flooded.

But that’s it.

For the other six months of the year, you can’t grow anything on your land. You and your husband try to earn something as wage laborers, but finding that work is difficult and unreliable.

Even with a small income, you thought you were doing a good job of keeping your daughter healthy. You thought you were feeding her well. Then there’s a nutrition survey of the children in your village, and you learn that she’s technically malnourished.

How would you feel? As a parent, what tools and knowledge would you want?

When Ma Khaing found herself in this situation not too long ago, it hurt. She learned that her daughter, May Phu Khaing was malnourished. “I thought I had taken good care of her, so I did not feel good about her condition and I wanted to learn more about nutrition and hygiene to help her grow up healthy,” she says.

CWS offered nutrition education activities in her community, and Ma Khaing went to all of them. “I joined all the education sessions offered by CWS, and I did not feel shy or ashamed to ask questions. Also, I practiced cooking new foods and in new ways at home. I also shared what I learned with my neighbors, and with May Phu Khaing’s grandmothers and other relatives,” she explained.

Once Ma Khaing had completed the nutrition and hygiene education work – and because they were prioritized by the community to receive support based on their limited income –  her family received a rooster, three hens and plastic netting to create a caged area for them. They also received seeds to plant water cress, spinach, long bean and pumpkins along with gardening tools. This combination of chickens and vegetable seeds helped her parents jumpstart improving May Phu Khaing’s health and the family’s overall well being.

A few months later, the family had 10 new chicks and lots of eggs. Ma Khaing cooks a variety of dishes with her home-grown veggies, fresh eggs and chicken meat and makes sure May Phu Khaing eats protein at least two days each week.

When she talked to our team, Ma Khaing told us with a proud smile, “I am happy to see my daughter enjoy eating every day. She has not had a cold or diarrhea in many months, and her weight and height have increased a lot.” She added, “My daughter’s progress has motivated me even more to take good care of her with healthy meals and better hygiene, especially hand-washing before meals and after using the bathroom. We are grateful to CWS and their supporters not only for material aid but also the chance to gain knowledge, which has helped me change my awareness, attitudes and action for my child’s development. I will continue to pass on my knowledge and experiences to others because I want every child to grow up healthy like my daughter is now.”