Field visit to our 'Stunting Free Villages' project

From 10 to 17 February, our Communications Manager, Linda Verbruggen-Lap, visited our Stunting Free Villages or ‘Growing Up Up Up’ projects in north-eastern Bangladesh. She collected pictures and impressive stories from mothers and children: “These brave young women and children have so many challenges in their lives, it is astounding. I am so glad we can help them become healthier and above all happier.”

With the Stunting Free Villages project, Max Foundation aims to create a healthy living environment for more than 16,000 children in 36 communities in north-eastern Bangladesh. In this area, the percentage of stunted growth in children under two is high. Within the project, children are given the opportunity to grow up healthy without stunted growth. In total, the project provides access to safe water, clean latrines and education on health, nutrition and safe motherhood for almost 50,000 people in the area, particularly targeting children under two, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers and schoolchildren. “The integrated approach of Max Foundation combines WASH components (water, sanitation and hygiene education) with HEALTH (healthy diet and better care for pregnant women and young mothers). We’ve found this to be a highly effective and innovative way to monitor stunted growth. Traditional methods focus only on either healthy food or sanitation, but integrating to two allows us to reduce stunted growth more efficiently,” says Linda.

Max Foundation works together with RedOrange, an international media and communication consultancy firm that helps us to promote the Stunting Free Villages project in Bangladesh. During her field trip, Linda consulted with RedOrange to fine-tune the project’s communication strategy. She learned that publicity in Bangladesh is of utmost importance to attracting more attention, raising awareness and funding Max Foundation’s innovative and effective approach to fighting stunted growth. “

Linda also visited the project communities Bejpara, Tenjargoan and Barokhoan with Wouter van Gens, a well-known photographer from the Netherlands specialized in portraits. During their visit, Linda and Wouter collected pictures and impressive stories from mothers and their children. The stories recount the daily struggles of strong women, all fighting to survive and provide a healthy life for their children.

Meet Shudiya Begum (27):

Shudiya Begum

Shudiya lives in Tenjargoan, Noarai Union, Chhatak area in Bangladesh. She was married at age 14. She has three sons (ages 12, 9 and 6) and a almost three-year-old daughter. Like most women in the village, she is a housewife. Her husband earns the family income by fishing. Shudiya only went to school for two years herself, but she is making sure that her children get more education than she did. The cost of education takes up a significant portion of the family budget, but Shudiya and her husband don’t mind. They have high hopes for their children’s future.

Meet Solima Khatun (31) and her son Sayid:

Sayid

Solima also lives in Tenjargoan, Noarai Union, Chhatak area in Bangladesh. She married her husband Tika Miah at age 16. Two years later, she gave birth to her first son and today she has four sons (ages 13, 10, 6 and 3) and a one-year-old daughter. She delivered all her babies at home with the help of a traditional birth assistant. One of her children died of diarrhoea at four months-old. The family is very poor and does not have a lot of food. They use a deep tube well for safe drinking water, but they don’t have a latrine. They bathe and wash their clothes in the nearby river. She worries a lot about the health of her children. Her youngest child, Sayid, is often sick and doesn’t eat very well.

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