Pen has learned good hygiene practices through her nutrition club.

Vietnam’s Nutrition Clubs: Helping mothers and their children thrive

“My first child used to be malnourished and frequently sick,” Pen tells us.

The young mother joined a World Vision-run Nutrition Club in Vietnam’s Hàm Thuận Bắc district.

Now, five years later, both her children, Thuyết and Truyền, are growing up fast and healthy.

In early 2015, Pen took her first child Thuyết to the local health centre for vaccination. Only then was the nearly one year old baby diagnosed as being severely malnourished.

The health staff introduced Pen to our Nutrition Club, and she joined without any hesitation.

The Nutrition Club’s lessons and the advice shared by other mothers in the club helped Pen gain knowledge of nutrition and healthcare for pregnant mothers and children under five.

She also learnt about the importance of safe water, hygiene and sanitation.

Pen is now sharing her knowledge with other young mothers.

As she applied the new knowledge at home, Pen’s first daughter gradually became healthier, and after two years, Thuyết completely escaped malnutrition.

Fully equipped for her second pregnancy, Pen made many changes.

I used to work hard, carry heavy loads, and even sleep in the field at eight months of pregnancy.

However, when pregnant with Truyền, Pen would mindfully avoid heavy work and take sufficient rest during the day.

She also started following a nutritious and diverse diet. As a result, Truyền’s weight at birth of 3.2 kilograms surprised Pen.

Truyền enjoyed exclusive breastfeeding during her first six months, until she was ready for the weaning period.

“Even though I had to work every day, I would make sure I was home during lunch break to breastfeed my daughter,” Pen shared.

Truyền's weaning went smoothly, for Pen knew how to cook nutritious porridge with cooking oil, meat, fish and vegetables.

She tried to keep her children’s diet healthy and varied so that they would eat more.

Pen now teaches other young mothers what she has learned.

“Sometimes I also buy them cake, milk and fruits as snacks during the day.” At 3.5 years old, Truyền surpassed the average weight (15 kgs) of children of her age.

Through the Nutrition Club, Pen's family also received chickens, goats, and vegetable varieties to grow a nutritious vegetable garden.

Thanks to the good application of farming techniques learned through the Nutrition Club, the goats and chickens multiplied while the nutritious garden grew very well.

Eggs, chickens and vegetables are always available to nourish her children.

With the income from selling goats, Pen bought daily nutritious food for her two children, spending the rest on building a decent toilet and buying water containers to use at home.

“Helping people is helping myself," Pen says. Now she’s an active member of the Nutrition Club, sharing with other mothers what she has learnt and passing on her own experience raising Thuyết and Truyền.

In the past, Pen used to be very shy and have self-doubt; she hid whenever there were strangers.

The Nutrition Club has changed her into an active, open and confident person. Her family now has a healthy, sustainable life.

Find out more about our health and nutrition work.