Improving child health through nutrition, hygiene education

Channa had never been taught about basic nutrition and sanitation; as a result, her children were often sick. But their health began to improve when Channa was invited to be part of a health education program through World Vision.

Story and photos by Vichheka Sok, World Vision Cambodia. Edited by Rachael Boyer.
Published October 10, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

Channa Yean, 33, and her husband Hay Hong, 40, are both farmers in Cambodia. They were working very hard, struggling to earn an income and care for their three children.

But their hard work meant they didn’t have time to focus on basic nutrition, health, and sanitation at home. Consequently, their children were often sick.

“I did not know what and how to make good food for all my children and all my family members,” Channa shares.

“We just ate dried fish and fried fish almost every day. My children seemed to grow very slowly, and their health was also not really good.”

The family was also uneducated about how to prevent the spread of disease.

“We drank unboiled water, and there was no toilet, too,” Channa says, adding that the children’s poor diet and unsanitary living conditions meant they were too sick to go to school regularly.

A healthy education

Channa's family, who lives in a fishing village, used to just eat fish, but since learning about balanced nutrition through World Vision, their health has improved.Then, Channa was invited to be part of a health education group through World Vision. There, she learned about basic hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition for her children.

The group has given her a passion for learning. “I want to learn more to improve my knowledge, especially when the trainings really bear fruits for me, because it’s about health,” says Channa.

“It’s crucial for my family and everyone here. I participated in training on breastfeeding, HIV and AIDS, and nutrition, as well as other good trainings.”

Encouraging results

Channa looks at her children fondly — two sons, ages 6 and 9, and a 3-year-old daughter. “We now drink boiled water, and I keep myself clean,” she says, adding that the children now wash their hands regularly.

She follows up on her children’s health by weighing them with a scale. She is happy because she sees they have gained weight steadily.

“Making nutritious food is not expensive, and it’s easier than I thought,” says Channa.

“I keep sharing what I have practiced after the trainings…I am happy because some villagers started to practice making appropriate food for their children, too.”

Spreading knowledge

Kanhchna, a World Vision staff member, says that Channa took an active role in the training sessions.

“She is curious about learning about health. She asks when she is not clear on any of the sessions,” says Kanhchna. “I hope other mothers would learn from her.”

This is an example of the balanced meals that Channa prepares for her family now.It appears that Kanhchna’s wish is already becoming reality. With the training she’s received, Channa has helped her children become healthier — while creating positive change within her village.

Learn more

Read about Child Health Now, World Vision’s global campaign to end preventable child deaths.

Four ways you can help

Thank God that Channa’s children are now healthier, and pray that this mother’s knowledge will continue to positively influence other families in her village. Pray also for children around the world who suffer and are at risk of death from preventable causes.

Sponsor a child today. Your love and support of a boy or girl in need will help provide life-giving essentials, like health training and care.

Make a one-time gift to our Child and Family Health Fund. Your donation will help provide training for health workers, provision of medical supplies, and delivery of critical care based on the specific needs of communities struggling with poverty.

“Like” the Million Moms Challenge on Facebook. World Vision and other organizations are teaming up with ABC News to to build a 1-million-member-strong movement of Americans committed to helping mothers and children around the world — moms here engaged with and helping moms overseas. See all of the activity on Facebook, and join the conversation.