In Vietnam’s rural and economically depressed areas, many children are unable to attend schools on a regular basis. Besides the lack of classroom facilities, deficiency of educational materials, and the inadequacy of funding teacher salaries, the children’s malnutrition and poor health have often been the predominant challenge to success in early childhood education.
The current Pediatric Nutrition Project started during the 2004-2005 school year in Phu Loc district, 40Km south of Hue, as a pilot endeavor which came about as the result of a Giao Diem Humanitarian Foundation (GDHF) survey in April 2004 showing that half of the 300, 3- to 7-year-old local students were undernourished per World Health Organization standards.
This one-year Soymilk Nutritional Supplement Pilot Project used homemade soy milk fortified with peanut oil produced locally by teachers of the Classroom of Compassion which the students consumed daily. Nutrition information and proper food handling techniques were taught to local teachers and staff before the project started. Participating children were given a complete physical exam, a screening for anemia, and were treated for parasites and other ailments prior to joining the project. The children also received daily multivitamins with minerals while classes were in session. The children’s height and weight were then measured quarterly and marked on their individual growth chart as a visual tool to encourage the parents’ active participation in the maintenance and promotion of their children’s health.
Since the success of its pilot nutritional project, GDHF has actively assisted in early childhood education efforts by providing salaries for teachers, supplying educational materials to schools, and giving nutritional supplements to malnourished children in several poverty-stricken communities in Quang Tri, Thua Thien, and Dong Thap provinces. The number of children who benefit from this effort has increased over the years. Compared to 300 students in 2004-2005, there were more than 3,000 children enrolled in the Pediatric Nutrition Project during the 2009-2010 school year.
Beginning in 2006-2007, GDHF’s partners, Abbott Fund and AmeriCares Foundation, have also become more involved in supporting this humanitarian effort. Together, both organizations provided grants and in-kind donations of Pediasure (to be used during the monsoon seasons when severe flooding hinders the production of soymilk).
How you can help:
Your involvement and assistance is always welcomed and genuinely appreciated. For further details of the Pediatric Nutrition Project, please contact Dr. Thuy Thi Nguyen or Dr. Tam Huu Do at: email@example.com