After listening to Bhanchhin Aama, I realized that these foods are actually nutritious. When experts in the radio say so, it must be true. I started giving them to my daughter-in-law.
– Parvati Chand
“I gave birth in the jungle by myself, cut the umbilical cord using my farming tool and wrapped the baby in my sarong,” says Parvati Chand, a grandmother who lives in a remote region in western Nepal. “I was not allowed to eat meat and dairy products for weeks after giving birth and had to look after myself and my baby alone.”
Parvati grew up with the belief that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should avoid foods like green vegetables, fruits, eggs and meat – everything that actually is essential to a mother’s health. And the custom was not to touch a new mother. She was considered impure.
Though change has been slow, it has been coming to Parvati’s village. When her daughter-in-law became pregnant, Pavarti listened to the Bhanchhin Aama radio series, produced by the CCP-led, USAID-funded Suaahara program. The drama featured a likeable mother-in-law character who provides advice and guidance to promote best practices during the period from conception through a child’s second birthday.
Due to Nepal’s geography and infrastructure, radio is the only means of mass communication available to many women like Parvati. Many villages in these remote areas lack proper roads, newspapers do not reach them and many people who live there do not know how to read. Only a handful can afford television sets.
On the radio, Parvati learned about the different ways she could support her daughter-in-law. She gave her nutritious foods during pregnancy and after birth, ignoring old traditions she once practiced.
“After listening to Bhanchhin Aama, I realized that these foods are actually nutritious,” says a surprised Parvati. “When experts in the radio say so, it must be true. I started giving them to my daughter-in-law.”
Now she is a grandmother to a healthy boy and she helps feed him when his mother is sick or at work.
Sign up to our monthly newsletter