A mother’s brave choice

Becoming a mother is one of life’s biggest responsibilities and for many new mothers, a little guidance goes a long way. In communities across Laos, mothers who choose to take part in World Vision’s health activities are hidden heroes, changing the future of their children’s health. One of these heroes is Bang, a 28-year-old mother from Laos. She was only able to complete primary school and so when she fell pregnant with her third child, Bang decided to attend health training with World Vision because she wanted to educate herself on raising a strong child. 

“I got married young, at just 16-years-old, and didn’t have the knowledge I needed to raise a child. I thought I could just do the same as how my mom raised me. When she was pregnant with me, she never went to a doctor or received any type of vaccination. She gave birth at home and the only person to look after her and I was my father,” Bang shares. 

When Bang had her first two children, she didn’t go to a health centre and instead gave birth at home. She also didn’t understand that she couldn’t just feed her child whatever she had at home, instead of opting to breast feed, as her mother had done before her. 

A change of heart and mind

After learning about the health care training and attending sessions, Bang had two more children. During these pregnancies she chose to see a doctor, gave birth at the health centre, went to follow up checks and completed all vaccinations that were suggested by the health officer. 

“I was interested to listen to what the health officer said because I cannot read well,” Bang shares. “I learned about how to take care of myself during pregnancy and after giving birth.”

Like other mothers who attend training, Bang learned that a breast milk-only diet for the first six months of a child’s life is one of the most important ways to ensure a child’s survival, healthy growth and development.

A Laotian woman breastfeeds her child. She is wearing a green shirt and smiling at her child.
Livanh, a 25-year-old mother who took the same health classes as Bang breastfeeds her child. Photo: World Vision.

“It’s easy to provide breast milk for my baby because there is no need to boil water or clean the bottles,” says Bang. “I think my children are healthy because of the breastfeeding, vaccination and eating nutritious food. And now I’m healthy, too. I eat vegetables, bananas, papayas, pumpkins, and meat as suggested by the health officer.” 

Bang also started to prepare rice soup mixed with vegetable, pumpkin and meat for her baby who is now five months old. “I learned that if we do not feed our babies properly, they might become malnourished and I don’t want that to happen, so I try hard to prepare good rice soups as much as I can.”

A long-term outlook

In addition to educating new mothers, with support from donors like you, World Vision also provides programs to support district health officials, such as implementing mobile clinics to carry out immunizations and health checkups every three months. 

A group of mothers attend health training in their community in Laos. Their babies sit on their laps.
A group of mothers in Laos, including Bang, attend health care training with their children. Photo: World Vision.

“I received a tetanus shot and health checkups during my entire pregnancy. And my baby received full immunizations including polio, Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and measles,” says Bang. “I understand that although the shots may hurt my baby, it doesn’t take long. I believe it can prevent other diseases and keep my baby healthy,” Bang explains. 

Mothers like Bang have made decisions that will change the trajectory of not only theirs and their children’s lives, but of future generations to come. Thank you for continuing to support hidden heroes like her as they work to nurture healthy, happy children.

Do you know a hidden hero, like Bang? Share what makes them a hero on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn and tag us @worldvisioncan and #HiddenHero