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| Impact Stories

Nurturing Health and Nutrition: Empowering Mothers in Magway

This story was originally published by FAO.

In the heart of a village, a remarkable transformation is taking place—one that exemplifies the power of education, persistence, and community support in reshaping dietary habits and improving the health and nutrition of families. At the forefront of this change stands Daw Aye Khin, a dedicated mother who embarked on a journey of discovery and empowerment through the Mother-to-Mother Support Groups (MtMSGs) initiated as part of the FAO GAFSP funded project. Through these groups, she not only enriched her understanding of proper nutrition but also catalyzed a shift towards enhanced dietary diversity for herself and her youngest child, a seven-month-old bundle of joy. 

The cornerstone of this initiative lies in the nutrition Social Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) sessions that have become a pivotal source of knowledge and empowerment for mothers like her. Eager to enhance the well-being of her child, she actively participated in these sessions, recognizing the potential they held in revolutionizing her family's dietary practices. 

Her journey into the realm of nutrition was not just about adopting new knowledge; it was also a journey of unlearning and reevaluating deeply ingrained traditional norms. Drawing from generations of inherited wisdom passed down from her grandmother and mother, she had initially adhered to age-old practices. However, her participation in the nutrition trainings brought her face-to-face with new insights—particularly the significance of dietary diversity for both mothers and children. 

One of the most significant shifts in her approach was related to breastfeeding and complementary feeding. Guided by traditional beliefs, she had been feeding her babies rice and oil until the age of six months. Fears of indigestion had led her to avoid introducing meat into their diets. However, acquired with newfound knowledge, she learned about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and the value of introducing timely and age-appropriate complementary foods. 

Breaking away from established traditions was not easy for her. She encountered resistance from her own grandmother and mother, who were steeped in these customs. Yet, armed with conviction and the scientific insights she had gained, she patiently advocated for the benefits of her new practices. Over time, consistent change in dietary pattern of herself and her child, she transformed the household dietary pattern to safe and healthy meals. Embracing a diverse range of foods from the six essential food groups, she witnessed visible improvements in her child's health—a testament to the power of informed choices. 

But her journey didn't stop at reimagining her family's plate. Through the project, she received a collection of seven vegetable seeds for home gardening—a move aimed at enhancing the nutritional value of her household's meals. Among the produce, okra thrived remarkably, yielding an abundant harvest. Her generosity extended beyond her home as she shared the surplus with her neighbors, fostering a spirit of collective effort in the pursuit of improved nutrition. 

With gratitude, she acknowledges the transformative impact of the project. She emphasizes the ongoing importance of nutrition training, especially for new pregnant and breast-feeding mothers. In her eyes, these sessions serve as a cornerstone for building trust and support within the community, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes during critical life stages. Her hope is for the project's continuation, anticipating a future where better nutrition becomes a reality for all communities. 

Her journey reveals the resilience of a mother driven by her commitment to her child's well-being. Her story reflects the potential that lies within education and community collaboration to break barriers, challenge norms, and pave the way for a healthier and nourished generation. As communities near and far thrive thanks to initiatives like the FAO GAFSP funded project, they inspire hope and instigate transformation.

Please click here for video clip of this case study in Myanmar language with English subtitles 


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