Heav Bopha is a 22-year-old farmer from Ratanak Kiri province in Cambodia. She is four months pregnant with her first child. Before the communications for development campaign in her village on maternal and child health – coordinated by CARE in association with MediaONE.
Bopha knew very little about how a woman should take care of herself during pregnancy. There were limited educational resources available in her village so he had no source of information. In the past, there had been occasional sessions provided on maternal and child health by the district’s health centre staff, but Bopha did not think it was important to attend because she was not yet married.
“There was never any health promotion or education provided by NGOs in my village,” said Bopha. “I used to hear that health staff would sometimes make trips to my village, but I never went to meet with them because I was young and single at the time,” she continued.
However, as the years continued to pass, Bopha grew older and married. Following her marriage, she became pregnant with her first child. She was very happy, but also nervous because she knew very little about pregnancy. She wanted to make sure that her unborn baby was healthy and regretted her decision not to attend the educational courses with the health center staff.
One day, Bopha was approached by a local village health support group (VHSG) volunteer. The volunteer told Bopha about a new radio program broadcasting in her village on maternal and child health. They told her the broadcast schedule and also informed Bopha that the programs were in her native Tampuen language. Bopha was very happy to learn about the radio program and told the volunteer that she looked forward to listening to the next broadcast.
The volunteer then went on to invite Bopha to become a member of her listening and dialogue group. They explained to Bopha that this would give her the opportunity to listen to and discuss the program with other pregnant women in her village.
“When I was told about the program on mother and child health and invited to join the listening and dialogue club, I was very happy,” Bopha exclaimed. “I wanted to learn how to take care of myself during pregnancy and I wanted my baby to be healthy. I knew this was a great opportunity for me,” said Bopha.
After joining the group and listening to the programs, Bopha became very knowledgeable about maternal and child health and shared what she had learned with her husband and friends. In addition, she also began to apply the new knowledge she had gained. Bopha now four months attends regular appointments at her local health centre. In addition, she has also received a tetanus vaccine and is taking iron supplements.
“I now understand that it is important for pregnant women to have regular checkups at the local health post. By going to the health post, the doctor can make sure you are healthy. I have been to the health centre four times. I will go back soon to get more iron supplements and see my doctor for my monthly checkup,” said Bopha.
“The radio program and group meetings taught me that pregnant women should eat healthy foods that have a lot of nutrition and protein such as fruits, vegetables, eggs and fish. And, I am careful to not lift heavy things because I know there are a lot of potential risks involved for myself and my baby. When it is time for me to deliver, I will have my baby at the health centre. Before, I knew nothing and planned to give birth at home.
Now, I realise that this can be dangerous. I trust the health centre because I know they have the knowledge and equipment to take good care of me.” Bopha is very happy and is looking forward to giving birth to a healthy baby.
These activities are part of Partnering to Save Lives, which is funded by the Australian Government. The radio show and discussion group were developed by MEDIA One in collaboration with CARE.