Every mother wants to see her children in the best health possible. But sometimes it’s a lack of awareness or knowledge that leads to unhealthy children. Heba, a 35-year-old woman who lives in the underprivileged area of Manshiet Naser in Cairo, is like any other mother who endeavors to deliver the best to her family and children. But Heba’s aspirations were far beyond her actual knowledge and she had many misconceptions. She knew very little about how to take good care of her health during pregnancy, or how to properly breastfeed her children and how to feed them properly.
One day Heba was approached by Save the Children and the local partner to enroll in a series of awareness sessions. The aim of the sessions was to make sure that infants and young children in disadvantaged areas in Egypt receive appropriate care to ensure their survival and good health. The project is part of the organization’s successful interventions to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates of infants and children under five in the most vulnerable locations.
“I participated in the program from day one in July 2014. The sessions even first started at my place; we started gathering at my house until the local NGO was ready to host us”.
Heba is currently a mother of three children; Habiba, 8, Youssef, 6 and Mohanad, 3 years old. At the time she joined the project she was still pregnant with Mohanad. She started applying what she learnt day by day on herself. She has noticed a major difference between her knowledge, her health, and her children’s health and wellbeing before and after the sessions.
“I never followed up regularly on pregnancy, I never took medications. Soon after giving birth, I used to feed my children anything that I could find at home”. Heba says. The sessions, which highlight the positive benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of introducing food only after 6 months positively affected her perception as she started applying what she learnt on Mohanad, her youngest boy. On the other hand, her other two children Habiba and Youssef often suffer from abdominal pain and their overall health is not as good as Mohanad. Heba understands that without the pregnancy follow-up checks, proper breastfeeding and nutritious fortifying food growing children need, her children’s survival as well as her own life will be at risk.
“Saving Young Children’s Lives” project ended in May 2018 after it was implemented in three areas in Cairo, Assiut and Sohag. Heba is one of the thousands of women who benefited from the project and are now spreading what they have learnt among their communities.