It takes both parents working as a team to give a child a strong healthy start.
Ei Phyo Wai is 21 years old. We started supporting her family before her second baby was born. They already had one child, a little boy. She lives in a migrant village area near the main city, a collection of huts on a Thai person’s land that they pay to live in.
She gave birth to her baby girl just as rainy season was beginning. This is a hard season for many agricultural laborers to find work in. The rice is already planted, and there is nothing to harvest yet. Her husband was having a hard time finding work and earning money to support his family.
When Ei Phyo Wai’s baby was only one and a half months old, she started to feel like she should go out and look for a job to help make money. In order to do that she began giving her a substitute for breastmilk, in order to wean her. It wasn’t even infant formula. But she couldn’t read the box. She only looked at the pictures. She thought from the pictures that it was good for her baby.
She told our team that she was planning to look for work. So they asked her what she would do with the baby. She showed us what she was giving the baby instead. The team read the box for her and told her that what she was giving her baby was really bad for him. It was very high in sugar, and didn’t have any of the nutrients she needed to grow healthy and strong.
They worked with her to problem solve and try to find a solution. The first option they considered was whether or not she could take the baby to work with her. Employers often allow this here. But in this case it would probably not work. The job she had planned to take was at a roadside food stand where she would be frying food all day. Her baby wouldn’t be very safe at work because of all the hot oil.
We gave her all of the information we have about how much better it is for her to breastfeed the baby and be with her for the first 6 months, and how much money it would save them.
Once her husband heard this, he decided that the best thing for their family was for his wife to stay with their baby girl and feed her. “I will work harder at finding jobs.” He said.
So Ei Phyo Wai is still at home with her baby and toddler and breastfeeding. Her husband eventually found work.
The nutrition packages we brought them each week helped to ease the stress of having no job. We don’t provide enough for a whole week, only about 4 days for a small family. They still have to work to find other ways to pay for food and rent, but it helps. It gives them the space to find solutions.
Our team also gave them information about family planning so they can be more in control of when they have another baby, and plan it for a time when they are more stable.
This was a family trying to make the best choices they could, with the information and resources they had available. With your help they received better information and the the support needed to open up better choices. Because of this they were able to give their baby girl the best healthy start in life, and problem solve together to find solutions that are good for all of their family members.
Carrien is co-founder of The Charis Project, Family Education Curriculum Developer, and mom of 6.
You can get her free mini-course on Making Your Family More Resilient here.