On the third morning of the lunar holiday, TET,* I started my journey to the countryside to visit friends in Quang Ngai Province. Spring was in the air. Bamboo danced in the wind, and flocks of swallows were building new nests. During the first few days of my visit, my friends and I gathered together to worship our ancestors, celebrate our friendships, and enjoy each other’s company. At one of the gatherings, the host’s neighbor joined us. She was 43 and held a chubby 11-month-old baby in her arms. I quickly realized that I knew this woman. Her name was Nguyen Thi Lac, and she lived in Son Tinh District. Her son had grown so much since I had last seen him four months ago.
Lac, a farmer, and her carpenter husband are parents of two children—a boy and a girl. She gave birth to her daughter when she was 30 years old. Their children are twelve years apart, and both are very healthy.
Lac’s neighbors were curious about how she cared for her children. Her daughter is now in the 6th grade. She is intelligent and won two prizes last year, one in the Clean Notebook and Clear Handwriting Contest and the other in the Nightingale’s Voice Competition. Currently, she is waiting for the result from the English Olympic contest. The neighbors admired how strong and smart Lac’s son and daughter were. Seeing chubby babies on TV advertisements promoting infant formula, they assumed that Lac was using infant formula. Ngoan, one of her neighbor’s, said that most mothers in the countryside will think that formula is best for babies when they see the TV advertisement.
But Lac fed her daughter—and continues to feed her son—breastmilk. When she gave birth to her first child, Lac could not afford any other choice. She saw her daughter grow up healthy and strong, and her confidence in breastmilk grew. When her son was born, she again breastfed. Why spend scarce money on infant formula when her own milk is the most valuable product and is readily available? Thanks to Mat Troi Be Tho’s campaign on proper breastfeeding, Lac took extra care this time to practice exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and introduce complementary foods at 7 months. At 11 months, her son weighs 11 kilograms and is 76 meters tall. That’s living proof of the value of Lac’s breastmilk, love, and care for her son.
The day was winding down, and Lac had to go back home to prepare for her own Tet celebration. Her wish for the New Year was for all mothers to care for their children, provide them with proper nutrition and have healthy and happy children.
By Nguyen Thi Hanh Duc