From family tragedy to fatherly responsibility: how a radio program is helping change men’s role in

Hei Bun Him’s wife had given birth to their first child last year, but the baby had passed away after only three months. He has now joined a listening and dialogue group in his village in Mondul Kiri province – which is coordinated by CARE in association with MediaONE – to prevent this tragedy from happening again.

During their previous pregnancy, Bun Him’s wife had known little about how to take care of a newborn and Bun Him made no effort to learn about newborn care because he felt it was the responsibility of his wife. When their baby became ill, Bun Him and his wife did not recognise that the baby was sick until it was too late.

“My wife and I knew nothing about newborn danger signs,” said Bun Him. “We were careless and waited to go to the health centre until my child only cried and was no longer feeding. We didn’t know what was wrong with him. Shortly after we took him to the health centre, he died because he was already too sick. I was really sad about the death of my first child.“

Following the loss of his child, Bun Him realised that it was important for his wife to learn more about newborn child care. In addition, Bun Him changed his attitude about his role and acknowledged that it was also his responsibility as a father to educate himself on maternal and child health. After hearing about the radio program and listening and dialogue groups that were established in his village, Bun Him did not hesitate and joined the group immediately.

“I was very pleased to join the listening and dialogue club and listen to the radio programs on maternal and child health. I wanted to learn more about how to recognise danger signs in order for my next baby to be healthy,” said Bun Him. After joining the club, Bun Him was able to learn valuable information that would help ensure the health of his future children.

“I was really interested in the information provided in the program—especially the information about newborn care. I learned that it is important to hang a mosquito net in order to protect newborn babies from malaria and other diseases. In addition, we should also wash newborn children with warm water and watch them closely at all times to make sure they are healthy. If they begin to show danger signs such fever, paleness or a rash it is important to take the baby to the health centre right away.”

Another crucial point Bun Him learned was about the importance of getting vaccines for newborn children.

“The radio program taught me about the value of having a newborn baby vaccinated. Vaccinations help protect against diseases. I never took my first baby to the health center to get vaccines. I didn’t think it was important. In the future when my wife and I have another baby, we will take the baby to the health center regularly and make sure it receives proper care. I want to make sure we do everything possible to keep the baby healthy,” concluded Bun Him.

With the information gained from the program, Bun Him is confident that he now has the knowledge to help ensure his children will lead happy and healthy lives. He looks forward to having a family with his wife and learning more about how he can support her during the upcoming broadcasts.

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.

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CARE is an international development organisation fighting global poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring sustainable changes to their communities. 

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