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How nutrition clubs are empowering women in Vietnam

Small things can spark big change. In Trà Bồng district in southern Vietnam, one woman is supporting the health of children in her community through a unique business model.

A few years ago, Yến was struggling. Job shortages forced her husband to take on seasonal labouring work in the south, while Yến found work a few days a month processing acacia – backbreaking work that brought in just over AU$6 a day. Her two children suffered severe malnutrition.

But in 2014, everything changed. After joining a StarKids-funded nutrition club in her village, Yến learnt to cook a healthy porridge from affordable and locally available ingredients. Her children’s health improved, and an idea began to form.

Two years later, Yến opened a small shop in her village with the support of World Vision. Her product of choice? Porridge for children.

“I wanted to transform what I learnt into something beneficial to in-need people,” says Yến. “I thought the project had a good chance to succeed since the price would be much cheaper than instant porridge sold en masse in the city.”

At the store, Yến instructs her customers how to use locally available ingredients to serve nutritious food at home. She also cooks and sells meals, confectionary and soft drinks to increase her income and customer base.

Her entire family is benefiting from her success.

“Now my husband can stay with us – he does not need to go working in the south, far away from his family, anymore. Instead, we work together on our small business. [Its] average income is around 250,000 VND per day [around AU$14], enough to take proper care of our children.”

Yến’s hard work promoting child nutrition has not gone unnoticed. She was elected leader of her village’s nutrition club, and has been invited to attend healthcare and business management training. This has opened opportunities for formal training through the local medical clinic.

“Yến’s business story has inspired many women to learn and follow!” says Mr Anh, a local government officer. “[A]fter witnessing her trying so hard to succeed, everyone in the commune trust[s] and support[s] her now.”

These days, Yến is determined to boost child health in her community by leading through example.

“I will try to do well so other members find the courage to replicate the business model.”

 

[Caption]

Thanks to skills learnt through a nutrition club, Yến’s shop is benefiting the health of both her family (pictured) and her community.