Guest Post: Conquering Nutrition Myths in Myanmar – Supportive Programs #Marchis4Nutrition

In honor of National Nutrition Month in March, 1,000 Days is amplifying the critical role the world’s mothers play in nourishing the next generation through our annual online #Marchis4Nutrition campaign. Throughout the month, we will also be highlighting stories from our partners. Follow along and get involved on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #Marchis4Nutrition.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. They work in 120 countries around the world to give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Save the Children does whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.

Save the Children works in many communities with mothers such as Aye Zar Zar Soe to provide robust health and nutrition programs that save children’s lives and ensure they grow up healthy.

This is Aye Zar Zar Soe’s story from Myanmar.

My husband and I live with our six children in Shwe Pyi Thar, a township on the north west of Yangon. He is a highway truck conductor and I was a flower vendor before I delivered my youngest child. To make ends meet, my elder children sell flowers such as jasmine, yellow-ginger lily and waxy flower at the local market.

I joined the nutrition knowledge training conducted by Save the Children during my third month of pregnancy. For my elder children, I had no idea about nutrition and followed the suggestions from my relatives. They told me to avoid some specific foods and that I must only eat soup and fried fish. They also said that my baby will have flatulence and diarrhea if I eat vegetables and chilies. I also fed rice to my children before they were 6 months old. My elder children were suffering a lot from malnutrition and were very thin and sick often. At this last child pregnancy, I ate a variety of food. My baby is very healthy and he never needs to goes to the clinic. My cooking style has also changed because I have realized the importance of nutrition to children from the training.

Five years ago, we began to have financial difficulties and gained a debt of 20 lakhs (approx. $1,500 USD). During this time, I couldn’t take care my children and feed them enough breast milk because I spent so much of my time trying to make money outside. Sometimes, we had only one meal for a day.

Thanks to Save the Children, I now get a cash support payment, along with financial literacy and nutrition knowledge training to help me care for my family.

The financial management training conducted by Save the Children changed my life. In the past, I spent as much money I had on unnecessary things. I couldn’t prepare breakfast for my children and instead I gave them money for them to purchase breakfast themselves. After the training, I got the knowledge of how to spend money and differentiate between needs and wants. Now, I prepare breakfast for children and I can save more money.

With financial and technical support from Save the Children, I can make money from my home. They helped me buy two pigs – and once they grow, I will sell them and buy 3 piglets. This is the way of making money from pig raising. It is easy for me because I am not able to make money outside with my toddler.