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A Young Mother's Improved Nutrition Knowledge Supports her Growing Baby
Twenty-year-old Manju Chettri, a young mother in rural Nepal, works hard in her small family garden to grow healthy vegetables for her 11-month-old daughter, Sandhya. But when she was pregnant last year, Manju didn't realize that her diet was unhealthy, with little nutrients.
As she uproots the weeds in her garden, which is planted with green beans, cucumber, eggplant and water spinach, Manju now knows how to grow a variety of nutritious crops and prepare healthy, high-quality meals for her baby, thanks to training provided by Save the Children's USAID-funded Suaahara program.
"I know that water spinach is packed with vitamins and is really good for a growing child," says Manju. "That is why I use it in my daughter's porridge."
Suaahara emphasized the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and the timely introduction of complementary, high-protein food for babies after six months, such as eggs, milk and meat. Maju also learned valuable farming and animal husbandry skills, and was given a variety of vegetable seeds to plant in her garden and baby chicks to start raising poultry.
"Without the training, I would not have breastfed my daughter exclusively for six months, and we both would have eaten a poor diet. My daughter would be malnourished now," says Manju.
Manju lives with her in-laws, so Suaahara engaged them as well in training and counseling to support her new skills and understand the importance of good nutrition, especially for the critical first 1,000 days of Sandhya's life.
"They do all they can to support me at home and in the field," says Manju. "I plow, water the plants and make organic pesticides," says her father-in-law Dhan.
Manju's daughter Sandhya is a healthy baby, but 41 percent of Nepali children under five are stunted from malnourishment. Since 2011, Suaahara has worked in 25 districts in Nepal to reach more than 350,000 children under the age of two and their mothers, with a strong package of nutrition-focused activities to reduce undernutrition, and potentially be used as a model for other countries.
"I am happy to see the fruits of our labor in our home garden," says Manju. "Thanks to the farming skills and seeds, I have access to fresh vegetables for myself and my baby at home."
The USAID-funded Suaahara program is a consortium led by Save the Children, with Helen Keller International, JHPIEGO, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs, Nepal Water for Health, Nutrition Promotion and Consultancy Services and Nepali Technical Assistance Group. Suaahara provides local, national and global expertise and experience with the primary objective of developing scaled-up agriculture, nutrition and health interventions to effectively reduce maternal and child undernutrition in rural Nepal.
Last Update October 2014