Responding to long-term hunger in Laos

Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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A mother feeding her son.

I am not a health expert, but now I share what I have learned and can give advice to other mothers.

Vanhsom, village health volunteer

In 2022-23, we approved funding to support 343,992 people facing long-term hunger in 23 countries.

Our development work focuses on supporting families’ efforts to lift themselves out of poverty. This often involves working with communities to strengthen their ability to rebound after natural disasters including:

  • helping families rebuild their livelihoods
  • offering training on conservation agriculture
  • improving nutrition for families

Community based learning for a village health volunteer

“I am not a health expert, but now I share what I have learned and can give advice to other mothers.”

Vanhsom, 32, is among many mothers in Langchong Village, Laos, who participate in the Positive Deviance (PD) Hearth program, learning new skills in maintaining good health, keeping a clean home garden and looking after livestock. She is married and cares for her husband, their one son, and a grandmother.

When Vanhsom’s son was born, he was extremely malnourished and underweight at just 2.4 kg (5.3 lbs), and she was worried about his future. Vanhsom was attending a village meeting when she heard about the PD Hearth program implemented by ADRA Laos, partner of ADRA Canada. Together with her husband, they immediately signed up, hoping to help their young son become healthier, and increase their household’s food security.

A mother and her son

Vanhsom’s son is now healthier and happier, and she’s teaching other mothers in her community what she has learned. (Photo: ADRA Laos)

Through the program, Vanhsom learned how to cook nutrient-dense meals using low-cost local ingredients for her son (who grew to 12.8 kg at 36 months old) and received coaching from health workers. Her active involvement and enthusiastic approach to the trainings led to Vanhsom being selected as a village health volunteer for her community. Vanhsom told us she aspires to be an example to her neighbours, and now has more time for income generation activities.

“My family is now very healthy and has food all year round. My child is strong and exemplary among other children at his age. We receive a lot of kind words from our neighbours. They really desire [to know] how I am caring for my baby.”

This story was originally published in the 2023 Summer edition of Breaking Bread. Download or order your copy here

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