A proud mother’s daughter is thriving
First 1,000 days: Giving every child the best start in life
Before he reached the age of one, Kerry Tabonana’s fifth child passed away. She had noticed that all her children would get sick from common illnesses in their first year of life. Sadly for her fifth child, this was too much for his little body to handle as he just couldn’t recover.
When she had her sixth child, something changed.
“Saolele Teb’ania is now 11-month-olds, just a few weeks shy of her first birthday, and she has not yet been ill!,” says Kerry. The family live in North Tarawa, and love playing with Saolele, who has already started talking and communicating in simple actions with her parents and siblings.
Ever since Saolele turned 6 months old and started feeding on solids, Kerry started mixing her food with the micronutrient powder (MNP) she was given by her local clinic.
UNICEF worked with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to distribute the MNP for mothers like Kerry in Aboakoro, who were also given a simple recipe book for cooking baby food with local ingredients and a guide to parents on their child’s needs and development. The guide, titled ‘I love it when’ (or in Kiribati, ‘I tatangiria ngkana’) was designed to also be used as a reading book.
Kerry explains how she prepares her daughter’s meal by mixing in the MNP, which must be used once every other day. “Before Saolele’s meal I separate a spoonful of her food on one side of her plate and then pour the MNP into it. I mix it thoroughly and then start feeding her with that portion first to make sure that she eats it!”
The MNP helps children to get the vitamins and minerals they need for healthy development and growth. Consisting of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, B12, C, iodine, folic acid and iron, it helps children grow up to be healthy and smart individuals. It therefore prevents children from malnutrition, stunting, and many other illnesses caused by micronutrient deficiency, which children are prone to whenever they lack essential nutrients in their diet.
“It is amazing that Saolele is now able to communicate in basic language such as ‘eat’ and ‘thank you’. And whenever she hears me start reading her story book, ‘I tatangiria ngkana…’ (I love it when…), she stops what she is doing, turns back and starts crawling back to me smiling, hold her book to join reading and pointing at the pictures,” says Kerry, proud of the development she sees her daughter making. “She is a smart kid!”
Kerry explains that she’s seen firsthand the difference the MNP makes as Saolele is at a more advanced stage than her older siblings were at the same age. She has no plans to stop adding it to her daughter’s food, nor to stop cooking the nutritious meals that were shared in the recipe book she received and adds that the I tatangiria ngkana story book “has now become Saolele’s all-time favorite!”