This blog was written by HKI-Cambodia field intern Caitlin Gruer.
A few weeks ago I blogged about my experience going into the field with the HKI Cambodia team to interview participants in our Micronutrient Powder program (read about it here). During the trip I was able to speak to many inspiring women involved in the program, and I thought that I would take this opportunity to share some of their stories.
The goal of the micronutrient power (MNP) program is to reduce micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition prevalence, and to help keep children healthy. It is an in-home fortification program in which mothers receive sachets of MNP powder to add to their babies’ food to ensure that it is adequately nutritious. The mothers are also educated about complementary feeding, and infant and young child feeding practices by village health volunteers.
Ms. Hou Yong is 32 years old and lives in Balang Village, about 3 hours outside Phnom Penh. Ms. Yong lives with her husband and her two children-a daughter who is 12 and a son who is 10 months old. When we arrived at Ms. Yong’s house, she greeted us warmly and ushered us into the family’s main living quarters. Throughout our visit Ms. Yong’s son, Son Sokheng, played on the mat in front of us offering large gummy smiles and peals of laughter whenever someone looked his way. Ms. Yong has been participating in HKI’s MNP program for 3 months. As we watched, she quickly prepared a porridge enriched with pumpkin, fish and a sachet of the MNP. She explained that this particular combination is one of her son’s favorites, which became readily apparent by the smile on his face when she began to feed him. When asked why she participates in the program, Ms. Yong responded that the MNP sachets would help to increase her son’s appetite and ensure that he grows up strong, healthy, clever and full of energy. It is obvious from watching her son that he is a strong, healthy energetic baby, and Ms. Yong reports that she plans to use MNP for as long as it is recommended.
About an hour away in Clay Village, Ms. Pok Somaly lives with her husband Dith Sopheak and their two children. Their daughter, Dom Sopheak Rachna, who is 17 months old has been enrolled in the MNP program for the last 3 months. Dom Sopheak Rachna is an adorable little girl with cute pigtails and a sunny smile. She was clearly quite confused by the sudden appearance of so many strangers and spent the first few minutes of the interview hiding behind her mother’s legs; however, after the interview was concluded she happily sat with her father looking through a magazine and exclaiming loudly when she saw something she liked. Dom Sopheak Rachna used to suffer from frequent fevers, but since she began eating the MNP sachets the fevers have been much less common. She has also gained weight since beginning the program, and she is now a healthy, energetic toddler. Ms. Somaly carefully explained the many things she has learned through the MNP program such as preparation of the MNP, benefits of the MNP, and optimal complementary feeding practices. It’s clear that she is very proud of how much she has learned since starting the program. Ms. Somaly is extremely happy with the MNP program and told us that if HKI stopped distributing the MNP to her home, she would travel to the health clinic to collect the MNP herself because she has seen how beneficial it is.
I had such an amazing time meeting these families, and seeing HKI’s success firsthand. It is really inspirational to see how hard these families work to ensure that their children will grow up healthy and happy, and with the help of HKI that goal is more attainable than ever.