Project gives children a fighting chance

Childcare advice is being given to poor parents in remote areas in 13 provinces under a project launched by the Ministry of Education and Training and the Viet Nam Women’s Union.

HA NOI — The eight-year programme "Early childhood development" launched in 2001 is designed to promote physical, emotional, spiritual and educational development among the impoverished. In addition, healthcare and advice o­n nutrition is being given to pregnant women and teachers.

One of the activities carried out under the project is showing parents how best to look after their children at monthly meetings and seminars, according to Le Thi Thuy, director of the Centre for Women and Development and the project’s vice director.

At the meetings, the importance of regular pregnancy health checks was highlighted, Thuy said.

"Now I come to check my health more often at the commune’s clinic, which I did not do when I was pregnant for the first time, since I learned that my child would be born and grow up more healthy if I take care of myself better when I am pregnant," said Giap Thi Huong, a young mother from Lang Son Province.

In Hue City, the number of pregnant women coming for health checks since the project was launched is now 97 per cent, as compared to 73 per cent previously. The rate of home delivery prior to the project’s launch was 10 per cent. It is now 0.14 per cent.

The project also stressed the need for fathers to get involved in the bringing up of children, given the fact that in Viet Nam men often think that this is women’s work, said Le Minh Ha, director of the project.

"Before, I spent little time with my son because field work made me tired after a long day. But now I spend more time talking and playing with him," said Le Dang Chinh, a farmer from Trieu Phong District of Quang Tri Province.

Chinh said after reading handbooks provided by the project and receiving advice from officials, he learned that talking to his children was of the utmost importance for their emotional and spiritual development.

Project officer Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga said the project had changed parents’ attitudes to caring for their children.

"Viet Nam is a developing country and children are often neglected. The project has greatly improved parents’ attitude to their children, and their children’s health and learning has greatly improved," said Le Thi Thuy.

"It does not matter if a child is from a poor or a rich family, if he or she is normal or has disabilities, the child should always have the opportunity to grow up healthily and happily, especially in the first three years of his or her life," she said.

Mong ethnic parents like this couple in the northern province of Son La are being taught how best to