“Our family’s everyday dishes are chili paste and hot & spicy curry, which my son can’t eat at all. So he just eats plain rice. That’s why he is so tiny.” The mother of Yutthaphon, a sponsored child in the Child Sponsorship Programme in Mae La Noi Project, Mae Hong Son province, expressed the concern of a mother.
Yutthaphon’s parents work as hired hands to earn meager and unsteady incomes, insufficient to fully meet their son’s needs, especially in terms of diets. Each day they leave for work at dawn and return home at dusk. Due to little food preparation time, plus the limited family income, Yutthaphon is underweight when compared to other kids at his age.
According to the National Statistical Office, in 2017 one out of 10 Thai children under 5 had stunting. Children in poor families were found to have higher rates of underweight, wasting, and stunting than other groups.
Mae Hong Son’s Mae La Noi district is one of the areas which have quite a significant number of children with underweight and stunting due to nutrient deficiency. As we’re well aware, balanced and proper nutrition during the first phase of life is the key to preschool and early childhood development, for it would build a child’s a foundation of lifelong health. As such, World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT)’s Mae La Noi Project has joined hands with the Sub-district Health Promoting Hospital and the Community Child Well-being Promoting Network to provide child nutrition knowledge to parents and support milk, eggs, and catfish fingerlings to the families in which children suffer malnutrition.
Yutthaphon’s family has also been supported to establish household food security through aquatic livestock. Fish, a good source of quality protein, will promote Yutthaphon to gain standardised weight and height and develop good health and proper growth.
His mother has received almost 200 broadhead catfish fingerlings with 2 sacks of fish feed. She’s raised them in the two round cement tanks in their backyard and got Yutthaphon involved in feeding the catfish every evening. The catfish has grown fast and large enough not only to be cooked as grilled catfish and other Yutthaphon’s favourites, but also to be processed into other dishes to feed the whole family, saving them over one hundred baht which they would have spent on buying each meal. There is enough catfish, part of which is sold to make some money to buy milk and other food to fulfill Yutthaphon’s nutrient requirements. Still, there’s enough fish to share with their neighbours to feed their kids.
Having observed the fingerlings constantly growing, Yutthaphon said with a happy smile: “I’m glad that I’ve raised catfish. I get to eat my favourite food every day. Thank you.”
“Thanks to the sponsor and WVFT. Now my son has grown strong and healthy. Thank you for supporting us with catfish raising. It helps us increase our income,” Yutthaphon’s mother thanked from her heart.
The Child Sponsorship Programme does not only help sponsored children to establish household food sources, but also focuses on children’s age-appropriate development to improve their quality of life toward well-being. Aside from the support on educational necessities provided to the sponsored children, Yutthaphon, a first grader, and his peers have received literacy enhancement, which the Child Sponsorship Programme has supported through all schools in its implementation areas, by promoting the school to have readiness to become children’s learning sources. In addition, capacity building activities have been conducted to enable teachers to improve children’s reading and writing.