how-does-the-child-survival-program-help-a-baby-in-poverty

How Does the Child Survival Program Help a Baby in Poverty?

By: Ruwanthi Sarjeevram, Sri Lanka Field Communication Specialist   |   Posted: April 18, 2011

WITH THE HELP OF THE CHILD SURVIVAL PROGRAM, A MOM KEEPS HER BABY FROM LOSING WEIGHT.
A mother of two young children, 32-years-old, unemployed - her husband earns a meager US $4.50 a day.

There's a dark, gloomy, low-roofed house that sits in the heart of tea country in Sri Lanka. It's made of crumbling dry mud and torn black sheets. It looks like no one could possibly live here, but it's home to a young mother and her family.

Sarasvathi lives in the central hills of Sri Lanka. Her compound is not far from the main road and is nestled in the center of a large tea estate. Despite its dilapidated appearance, her home is wrapped with the aroma of fresh tea and surrounded by a lush, green landscape covered with tea bushes.

This 32-year-old mother is unemployed and a mother of two — a daughter, Saumya, age 7, and a little boy, Nidushan, nearly 2 years old. Her husband, Yogarajah (age 34), is the sole breadwinner for the family. He earns the equivalent of US$4.50 for a day's work as a mason. But he doesn't always get work, and there isn't a steady income for the family. Many are the days when this family goes without a meal.

Inside their home is an old chair, a bed and a wooden cabinet. In a very small section on the side is their kitchen. A stream flows through their compound with a couple of planks running across it. This is their toilet — out in the open, covered only with a thin, decaying polythene sheet. This house has no electricity and no running water. As night falls, the family is plunged in darkness except for some candlelight.

About five months ago, survival specialists from a local Compassion Child Survival Program (CSP) found Sarasvathi and registered her in the program.

A Baby in Need

Sarasvathi's youngest, Nidushan, was underweight at birth. Though his weight did improve slightly, Sarasvathi was not able to help Nidushan reach the appropriate weight for his age. After Sarasvathi was registered with the Child Survival Program, Nidushan weight improved.

"Nidushan got biscuits to help him gain weight. Along with these biscuits, I got nutrition packs from the project. This helped Nidushan so much so that he started gaining weight faster. He was improving a lot," says Sarasvathi. "The midwife got me a tonic that would help his brain growth as well," she continues with enthusiasm. (These biscuits are given by the clinics to help babies gain weight; they are a medically approved supplement.)

"Earlier we would have just one meal" shared Sarasvathi. "We couldn't afford to eat more than that. But now, I can feed my little one all three meals. I am so happy." Though life seems to have dealt a harsh hand to this family, happiness shows in Sarasvathi's eyes. She takes pride in her two children.

A Noticeable Improvement

Sarasvathi's life and the life of her family have also changed.

"We learned about leading a good family life where we can be role models for our children," shares Sarasvathi. "Now my husband doesn't shout at me as he did before, and our marriage life is improving. We have been able to pay off our debts off gradually."

"I want to make this place a home for my children. I want to be able to build it up so that it will be safe. My hope for my little one is that he would have a better life and a good education. I don't want him to become like me," says Sarasvathi, with tears swelling as she looks at Nidushan with a glance filled with love and much hope.

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A Noticeable Improvement

Sarasvathi's life and the life of her family have also changed.

"We learned about leading a good family life where we can be role models for our children," shares Sarasvathi. "Now my husband doesn't shout at me as he did before, and our marriage life is improving. We have been able to pay off our debts off gradually."

"I want to make this place a home for my children. I want to be able to build it up so that it will be safe. My hope for my little one is that he would have a better life and a good education. I don't want him to become like me," says Sarasvathi, with tears swelling as she looks at Nidushan with a glance filled with love and much hope.

 What did you like about this story?