On a recent tour of one of the many sites of our Suaahara project, which empowers women, their young children and their communities to build better lives through better nutrition, I met Bindu Bogati. She and her 13 months old son, Sushant looked healthy and well. She told me she feels happy looking at her son because he is so big and strong, something that was not always the norm for the children in her ward.
She was three months pregnant when she first joined the Suaahara program. From the very start, she received guidance on how to take care of herself and the best diet for a healthy pregnancy. Following the advice of the lead mothers and local health volunteers she worked with, she delivered a six pound baby boy at the area health institute and continues to thank Suaahara for providing her vital information on the importance of regular pre-natal checkups, eating an extra meal during pregnancy, and other practices.
80% of brain development occurs during the first 1000 days of a child’s life — from conception to age two — and this fact was a key motivator in keeping with the program. As she continues to learn about keeping her baby healthy and strong, she has taken the path of the classic idium “prevention is better than cure,” adopting exclusive breast feeding for six months and adding eggs, rich source of protein, as part of her son’s meals. In addition to the nutritional benefits, she has easy access to eggs through the poultry provited through the program, which she raises right at home. Prior to her participation, she found eggs rarely available at her local market. She has also learned the best ways to mix in grains, green vegetables, and meat to make porridge more nutritious and the importance of washing her hands when caring for her young child to prevent infections and diseases like diarrhea and cholera. She proudly showed me her soap and hand washing styation nearby her house.
Through Suaahara, Bindu also learned about and recieved seeds for cultivating a her own home garden with the most nutritious friuts and vegitables. At first there was no proper plotting and fencing in the garden, but, also encouraged by the benefits he’d seen for his family through the program, her husband helped her strategically fence in and plot the garden to maximize the yield.
“After receiving the training at the Village Model Farm, I have a new sense of responsibility to ensure my family is healthy,” she explained. “Before the days of Suaahara, we were unaware about the importance and impact of eating green vegetables and eggs.” Cuddling her child, she adds, “Now I make sure to give these things to my child regularly, and we are much more aware of hygiene and sanitation.”
Her father-in-law, Rudra Bahadur Bogati, also praised Suaahara for providing such high egg yielding improved breeds of poultry, seeds and education to their family. He is also a big fan of the Suaahara weekly radio show, which promotes these healthy practices in an entertaining soap opera format. “The Bhanchhin Aama radio program has spiced up my life!”