FROM THE FIELD: Vietnam

Van_the_workshop_participant_interview_subject.jpgPregnant mother finds maternal nutrition workshop life changing

By Catherine Tô

In the lead up to Mothers’ Day, our ACCI Vietnam team wanted to share a heartwarming story about a participant at a Maternal Nutrition workshop. Late last month (April 2016), team members sat in on this workshop in a rural village. Afterwards a pregnant mother shared with them about how life changing the training was. Her emotional story, hugs and overwhelming gratitude reduced our team members to tears.

Dressed in red, Vân, a pregnant mother with expressive brown eyes stood on the periphery as we interviewed a participant from the Maternal Nutrition workshop. 

I sensed that Vân was bursting to share her story too and was determined to ask her, but we suddenly received word that Dr Ánh, the workshop presenter was just about to leave. We wrapped up our interview at hand and rushed inside to talk to the presenter.

We spoke to the presenter at length and as we concluded the interview, Vân approached us and thanked us all for coming to her rural village to hold the workshop. She said she’d never before heard of the information about maternal health and added that it was life changing, and that she’d put it to immediate use with the upcoming addition to her family.

Through an interpreter, I asked if she would be willing to be interviewed for the camera, and she gladly agreed. The workshop participants had been informed earlier that we were collecting footage and doing interviews to create a video about maternal health.

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The Maternal Nutrition workshops are well-attended  

We learned that Vân was an orphan and as such, lacked role models about how to be a parent. After she was married, she had a daughter and son, now aged 20 and 18 respectively. Her and her husband have a third child on the way.

Her first two children were born small and struggled to thrive, which left the devoted mother in anguish. Having to nurse her first two babies through their constant health struggles left her heartbroken.

Vân had critical gaps in knowledge about how to raise children until she attended the training. She didn’t know a mother’s health had such a direct impact on the well being of a baby in the womb, as she lacked access to this education. As a loving mother who was constantly thinking about her children’s future, she had long craved this knowledge.

Her current pregnancy was unexpected. Vân went to see a doctor after she started feeling sick and developed a bad back. Her doctor advised her to get a pregnancy test kit and the results confirmed a third child was on the way. Vân became deeply anxious about the health and future of her baby. She was invited to the workshop by staff from her local medical clinic and the People’s Committee and was extremely eager to attend.

Concepts such as healthy foods to eat during the different stages of pregnancy, nutrition for babies and pre-pregnancy and pregnancy vaccinations were all eye openers for her.

Vân said during the workshop she also learned how vitally important the first trimester is to the development of a baby. She said the workshop presenter had provided valuable information that could be used to help ensure babies are born stronger and healthier.

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Several workshop participants share the information they have learned with their children, grandchildren and friends

She felt empowered by the workshop to apply what she had learned right away.

“After this morning’s training, I am able to help myself and also help other women in the village who have not yet been to this training,” she said.

“Thank you to AOG World Relief for organising and supporting this nutrition program so that we are trained about maternal health and child health.

“I can also help and teach my children and grandchildren so they can grow up with good health. They will step into society with good health and can change the nation.”

According to United Nations research, stunted development affects more than one-third of Vietnamese children, and is most prevalent in rural areas and among ethnic minorities. About 90% of the world’s stunted children live in just 36 countries, including Vietnam.

In response, ACCI Vietnam’s Maternal Nutrition workshops aim to improve the health of children and mothers and in doing so, improve the growth and development of children at an extremely critical point in their lives. The cost of sponsoring an expectant mother or mother with young children to attend this potentially life changing workshop is just $50.

This Mothers’ Day, why not invest in a gift that will transform the lives of a mother and child?

For more information or to sponsor a mother to attend this valuable training, please go to:

http://www.aogwr.org/getinvolved/mums-day

To donate, please go to: http://www.accirelief.org.au/wr035giftsofhope