One Smile At A Time

As baby Ann Marie cries while being weighed by ADRA Philippines field officers, Mariveth Soco tries to soothe her child. All children cry during their monthly check ups; all they want is to have their mother by their side. As she dresses her child, the 36-year-old said that her child was sick but with just a common cold; she was glad it had nothing to do with her child’s nutrition.

Ever since the MASIGLAHI project began its trainings and checkups, Ann Marie (21 months old) had gained weight, improved her mood and has become less sensitive.

Mariveth, who is a stay home mother, washes clothes for her neighbors three times a week in order to be able to provide for her family. Her husband words as a barangay utility man, earning 2000 pesos per month, which is not nearly enough to sustain their three children much less to give them balanced and nutritious food. She earns 3500 pesos per month washing clothes, which allows them to break even on most occasions. Due to their economic situation, they are forced to borrow money from the store sometimes in order to have food to feed their family. When they don’t have enough food they have to rely on the crops that grow around their house e.g. coconut, radish, camote tops, papaya, caimito and bananas; they also sell coconut products in order to have additional income.

The MASIGLAHI project is a three-year project that aims to reduce acute and chronic malnutrition among children within their first 1,000 days. In order to curb the irreversible effects of both poverty and malnutrition, Masiglahi also teaches mothers how to make the most of their resources as they build healthier lifestyles for themselves and their children. As added support for these initiatives, ADRA trains regional officers who are in charge of monitoring malnutrition and conducts advocacy initiatives to improve the municipal and barangay health system. One of the selected barangays of the project is Anahawan, where Mrs. Soco lives.

Through these activities Mariveth has learnt about age appropriate foods, learning about nutrition and creative cooking methods that provide all the essential nutritional needs for her baby. Also she has debunked many cultural superstitions regarding eating habits, for example, they believed that squash (which is rich in Vitamin A) caused itchiness and rashes in children. One of the most valuable lessons that she has taken from the project is that investing in her children’s nutrition is good thing, and that she will be investing in her own future. With a proper nutrition her children will be able to focus on their studies, be able to learn and develop to their full potential, and in the future be able to obtain good jobs helping their family out of poverty.

Her two older children have benefited from the government’s anti-malnutrition programs in the schools, now all of three daughters are on the right path in their growth. “The changes in my child are tangible, she has gained 600g in 3 months but she is also more responsive and smiling when meeting strangers. Now she plays with a smile on her face, she is happy and more active. I am very happy with all I have learned from ADRA Philippines. I’m thankful because they have taught me how to take proper care of my baby”.