Healthy eating, better living
Marites is a mother to three young children. She always makes it a priority to make sure that their kids are healthy and happy.
Seven-year-old Rudy of Pangasinan, Philippines, poses for a photo with his family. Rudy was one of the children enrolled in World Vision’s 90-day nutrition classes as he was found to be malnourished.
But the cruelty of poverty and lack of knowledge on how to prepare the right food are problems that she once faced in ensuring that her kids are healthy. One time, her fears became a reality when her son, Mark, now 8, was assessed as underweight for his height and age.
“My son does not have enough food, so I told my husband about it,” Marites shares. Upon hearing this, her husband advised her to seek help from Jean, a village health worker in their area in Pangasinan, on what they can do so their son can regain normal weight.
When Jean dropped by their area and assessed the couple’s young son, it was found that he was malnourished
A similar situation happened to Roderick, a father to seven-year-old boy Rudy, who was once considered malnourished. Roderick thought that giving Rudy more food would make him healthy. Like Marites, he was saddened to learn that Rudy was malnourished.
“I didn’t know that the food we prepare was not enough to make him healthy,” Roderick shares.
Learning that their sons were malnourished, both Roderick and Marites enrolled their children to World Vision’s nutrition classes. The nutrition classes, billed as Positive Deviance/Hearth (PD/Hearth), is a 90-day program where children under the age of five whose height and weight fall below the required standard for their age will undergo rehabilitation in their feeding and hygiene habits.
Malnutrition in the Philippines is one of the underlying causes affecting children’s health and, eventually, their performance in school. Figures from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) show that 95 children in the Philippines die due to malnutrition every day. For the same reason, 27 out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday, and a third of Filipino children are short for their age.
“Malnutrition is a serious condition in children’s nutrition that happens in their first 1,000 days,” says Dannadel Vilar, World Vision Program Officer. She adds that children suffering from malnutrition easily get sick, become easily irritated, and in a way, their education is affected as well as their brains have not been fully developed.
“After two months, my son graduated from the nutrition classes because he already gained weight,” Marites shares as she starts to cry tears of joy and gratitude.
Roderick is also proud of his son’s progress. “My son told me that the food World Vision is preparing for him was delicious!” he shares, as his son was now fond of eating healthier options.
Health and hygiene
Apart from the nutrition classes benefitting malnourished kids, families were also taught backyard gardening. “In the PD/Hearth classes, we also encourage parents to do backyard gardening so they won’t have to buy [fruits and vegetables] in the market,” Dannadel says.
“I told my Mark to eat more vegetables and meat so he will not be malnourished anymore,” Marites says. Her family also received several vegetable seeds from World Vision such as okra, string beans, squash, cucumber and bitter gourd which the family harvested and sold for income.
Roderick also received goats as livelihood support from World Vision so he can have additional income to provide well for his children’s food.
Both families also benefited from World Vision’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program.
“World Vision also builds water facilities such as water towers, hand washing areas, toilet and water pump for the community to have potable water and teach them proper hygiene,” Dannadel shares.
To date, World Vision has reached more than 450,000 children, aged 0-17 years old with its health and nutrition programs.