Nathiya, 24, from the remote village of Govardhanpura, India, has two daughters with very different needs.
Mar 11 2016
Her eldest is 28 months and moderately acutely malnourished, so Nathiya must take extra care in preparing her food, while her baby daughter is just six months old and is being exclusively breastfed. She has been getting support from Action Against Hunger to help her care for both of her daughters.
“I’ve learned that if children shake their heads and refuse when we feed them, we shouldn’t force feed,” she says. She also recalls what to watch out for with two growing children, especially as her younger daughter will begin to eat complementary foods soon and reach for them herself as she develops motor skills.
“I’ve learned that small children should have separate bowls for food,” she says. “This way we can tell how much each child has actually eaten.”
Nathiya lives with her husband, a farmer, her mother-in-law, two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law.
Action Against Hunger’s community mobiliser Mukesh regularly screens all children under five in the village for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and moderate acute malnutrition (MAM). He visits their homes to check on the children’s well-being and supports their families in caring for them.
He refers children who suffer from the most severe form of malnutrition to an inpatient stay at the government’s Malnutrition Treatment Centres (MTC) where they receive special care to regain their health. For children who are moderately malnourished, he ensures access to Anganwadi Centre services who have special programmes in place to treat malnutrition.
Nathiya, aged 24 and her family
Nathiya’s older daughter is recovering from malnutrition. Mukesh diagnosed her by measuring her height, weighing her and measuring her mid-upper arm circumference - a simple way to establish whether a child is malnourished. “He showed me that my daughter is in the yellow category and explained that I needed to take extra care of her food”, says Nathiya.
Her daughter had been a sickly child. A concerned Nathiya took her to the community health centre in June 2014 where she was admitted in the paediatric ward. Thereafter she was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, transferred to the Malnutrition Treatment Centre and discharged after gaining weight.
“All her vaccinations are done”, Nathiya says proudly, showing her mother and child protection card records. “She’s no longer sickly. She’s only been ill once since we were there. Now she interacts, calls out to us and plays. She used to be irritable but isn’t any more.”
In addition to screening for malnutrition, Mukesh runs a group session for Govardhanpura’s pregnant and lactating women and those taking care of young children.
Houses in Govardhanpura are very scattered; the monthly sessions give women a break from their isolating workloads and let them get together, meet each other and learn about different childcare topics.
Nathiya enjoys learning about childcare in the group sessions and makes the effort to bring recommendations into practise.
“I learned about thin and thick milk!” she says, referring to sessions on breastfeeding where women are encouraged to feed from a breast until it is empty so that the child gets the nutrients of both the thinner foremilk and the thicker hindmilk; and the mother’s body is able to replenish its breastmilk supply and feed smoothly.
Nathiya also joins Action Against Hunger workshops on baby massage which aim to promote child health and a better bond between mums and their children - a vital aspect for a child's wellbeing.
“If I skip massaging my younger daughter even on one day, she seems very irritated,” says Nathiya. “That helps me understand that she’s missing her massage, so I massage her. And she becomes cheerful!”
Nathiya eagerly awaits Mukesh’s next visit to the house; and the next group session so she can learn more. She also has a hygiene project of her own at home. “We’ll be having a toilet made!”
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