Madiha and her children are experiencing a change in their health!
Madiha (Syrian - 27 years old) fled to Lebanon with her parents in 2012 in search of peace and to escape the war. She met her husband Khaled, a Syrian refugee, and they got married in 2016. Their family now consists of 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl: Azzam (6 years old), Mohamad (3 years old), and Esraa (11 months). “We were constantly moving between different areas in the past years because we couldn’t afford the rent, so we had to look for cheaper places in south of Lebanon” Khaled explains. The family now lives in a tent in South of Lebanon, and “here we work in agricultural harvesting, and looking after some chickens and goats for the landlord” according to Khaled.
This household was reached through a project implemented in partnership with UNICEF and aims at addressing the nutrition security of vulnerable pregnant and lactating women and caregivers of children under two years of age by providing support on appropriate infant and young child feeding practices and timely detection and management of malnutrition in Beqaa and South of Lebanon. “When I met the community mobilizer from Action Against Hunger during one of the nutrition awareness sessions, she referred me to her colleagues as I was not able to breastfeed my newborn baby Esraa” Madiha, Khaled’s wife, says, reflecting back on the time after the birth of baby Esraa.
During the assessment by an Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) specialist and a community nutrition officer Madiha mentioned: “My baby girl Esraa was crying a lot and didn’t sleep well, so my friends and neighbors advised me to try giving her anise to calm her down”. Under this project, the team started to support Madiha with her breastfeeding journey by providing her with targeted one-on-one counselling and sharing practical tips and information on position and attachment at the breast so she could exclusive breastfeed during the first six months. The movement of Madiha to another area was not an obstacle for Action Against Hunger team to be able to continue with follow-up visits to her.
“… In addition, I thought my milk was not enough for my baby specially that I was suffering from many difficulties during breastfeeding” Madiha clarifies.
Esraa (11 months) sitting in her family’s tent in South of Lebanon in May 2022. (Cynthia Bou Zeid for Action Against Hunger).
This caring mother was experiencing a lack of confidence and was thinking that her breastmilk was not enough for Esraa, so she was supplementing with infant formula. After receiving one-on-one tailored breastfeeding counselling Madiha became more confident and was able to discontinue formula feeding and only breastfeed until she became 6 months, when she introduced complementary food to Esraa.
On the other hand, Mohammad (3 years old) the son of Madiha had some nutrition issues as well. “He was not eating very well at all, and his appetite was very low.” explains Madiha. Mohammed received Micronutrient Powders (MNP) to add to his food and Madiha was given awareness sessions on best health and nutrition practices, she adds: “I was so happy seeing my son Mohamad more energetic and having more appetite after taking the vitamins… he highly benefited from the vitamins.”
After our counselling and awareness sessions with Madiha, she is now more confident and empowered to continue breastfeeding and now that Esraa is older than 6 months we have also been able to support Madiha on what is optimal complementary feeding which includes food diversity and meal frequency to her children. Esraa and Mohammad’s nutrition has greatly improved since then thanks to our programme and the partnership with UNICEF. This project presents a health behavioral change for Madiha and her children.