Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mothers Lead by Example in Myanmar

Sein Win Mya*, right, is teaching mothers and families in her village how to raise healthy children.

Sein Win Mya*, right, is teaching mothers and families in her village how to raise healthy children.

Several women sat outside a green medical building waiting for the mother-to-mother group meeting to start. Each one held a baby clothed in bright patterns. One mother nursed a 1-year-old, another held a sleeping newborn, and others chatted happily while they waited for the rest of the mothers to arrive. They’ve come to learn how to provide nutritious meals for their children and how to help them have a healthy lifestyle.

These mothers in Myanmar gather together once a month to learn about nutrition and proper hygiene. This is valuable information that they had little or no access to before the Samaritan’s Purse sponsored mother-to-mother group.

The mother leading the group, Sein Win Mya*, is strong and vibrant. She taught women from her village by using an informative flipchart provided by Samaritan’s Purse. Her daughter, who is about seven or eight years old, sat among the mothers and their children. Without being disruptive, she helped care for the other children. She fanned a fussy newborn, held a 3-year-old in her lap, and sat with a boy who has a mental disability.

The goal of mother-to-mother groups in Myanmar is to reduce malnutrition in poor villages, thus reducing its effects on a child’s physical and mental development. Cultural practices and traditions in Myanmar encourage mothers to feed young children only white rice, which deprives them of micronutrients such as iron and thiamine.

Mother-to-mother groups cultivate community and leadership by providing women tools and opportunities for leadership roles. I was amazed to see Sein Win Mya guide and teach the group with such confidence. She was teaching them to be leaders through her example-an example even her daughter seemed to be practicing in how she led and served the other children.

After the class finished, Sein Win Mya invited the group to her home for a meal she had prepared. Before eating, a Samaritan’s Purse staff member prayed. When we finished the meal, Sein Win Mya led us on a tour of the village and to her family’s betel nut field-a local crop similar to tobacco.

We passed through farms and palm tree fields that were flooded during the rainy season. As we walked, we spotted familiar faces popping out from homes along the path. Mothers and children from the morning’s meeting had decided to join us on our tour. Now quite a crowd, Sein Win Mya led us all through her prized produce, confidently showing off her beautiful rows of bright green leaves.

As we walked through the village I thought about the future of this village. I loved witnessing the close knit nature of this community and the beautiful nuturing of children and future leaders.

As a teacher, Sein Win Mya is investing in her community in a way that could transform future generations. As a mother, she is displaying to her three daughters what it means to sacrifice time and energy to serve others.

Her example inspires and encourages me. Please pray for Sein Win Mya and other mothers like her as they lead their communities into healthier futures.

*Name changed.

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