Food and Nutrition

The Average S. Asian Woman is Anemic and Works 15 Hour Days

| by Baptist Press

In one part of southern Asia, where as many as one-third of the people suffer from malnutrition, Southern Baptists are making a difference with a project called "Wise Mother, Healthy Family."

More than 15 tons of grain along with multivitamin supplements are being made available to pregnant women and malnourished children in four districts, using $33,270 from the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund.

"A recent United Nations report states that an average woman in this area has five children, that all of her children under age 3 are malnourished, that she works 15 hours a day, and is anemic," said Francis Horton, who with his wife Angie directs work in central and southern Asia for Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization. "Other projects have discovered a large percentage of underweight children as well."

The Wise Mother, Healthy Family project will help at least 500 women and their families with an ongoing distribution of rice, corn and "dal," a dietary staple in southern Asia made of hulled, split beans or lentils, Horton said. Women in the communities will work in groups of 20 to 25 to clean, roast and mill the grain, producing a high-protein, pre-cooked flour that will greatly improve the nutrition of their families.

A two months' supply of high-protein flour and multivitamins costs about $10. The project also will monitor the weight of children under 5 years old. The women also will be involved in small-group dialogues about family health.

"The food situation in this area has worsened dramatically, and this project can set in motion a multiplication process that eventually could help far more families than the ones currently being assisted," Horton said. "This project has a goal of establishing five or six locations in each of the four districts. Once completed, it will leave behind leaders who have been trained and can multiply the health education throughout the province."

Women in this part of southern Asia desperately need the prayers of concerned Christians, Horton added.

"Their world is becoming increasingly insecure due to economic, political and religious conflict," Horton said. "Please pray that this project would help them understand God's love for them and that they would experience the full and meaningful live He wants them to have."