Field note

A nutritious start to life and a promising future

11 Oct 13
Topic(s): Breastfeeding, Complementary feeding
Location: Bangladesh
Language(s): English
Audience: Policy makers and legislators
Programs: Policy advocacy

“It’s my responsibility to make sure that my son grows up intelligent and healthy,”says Sabina Yasmin, a 21-year-old mother from a rural village in Bochaganj sub-district in northern Bangladesh.

upcloseSabina’s big eyes light up and a smile beams from her face when she mentions 14-month-old Siam. Sitting on their small, clean veranda in a rural village, Sabina and her husband Laisur talk about Siam. “I work hard all day driving a rickshaw van, but I don’t mind because I have a big responsibility to bring up my child to be healthy and well educated,” says Laisur. Laisur earns just enough money to make ends meet. Neither Sabina nor Laisur has much formal education, but both have high aspirations for their first child. They want Siam to be an intelligent boy and to succeed in school. “My husband always says that one well-educated child is better than many children without a good future,” Sabina says.

Sabina talks about Hasina Begum, one of BRAC’s community health volunteers, who visits the couple’s tidy home to discuss health topics, including infant and young child feeding. Sabina followed Hasina’s advice to practice exclusive breastfeeding for six months and was happy that Siam did not have any major illnesses.

I work hard all day driving a rickshaw van, but I don't mind because I have a big responsibility to bring up my child to be healthy and well educated.

When Siam reached six months, Hasina told Sabina that animal food helps children’s brain develop. “Since I learned about the importance of feeding animal food to children, I try to give an egg, fish, or chicken to Siam as many days a week as possible,” says Sabina.

When Laisur goes to the market, there usually is not enough money to buy animal food for the three of them, but he buys an egg or a small portion of fish for Siam. On occasions when Sabina cooks chicken, she makes sure to give Siam as much as possible.

Some of Sabina’s neighbors know how determined she is to feed her son well. At times the ones who are better off give her a piece of chicken curry or an egg for Siam.

Determined parents, a dedicated health volunteer, and caring neighbors are making it possible for this low-income family to adopt good nutrition practices. Sabina feels that her responsibility goes beyond Siam. She tells her sisters and sisters-in-law how she has managed to give Siam a nutritious start to life and a promising future, and she encourages them to do the same for their children.