I was taking a road trip a week ago and noticed a billboard halfway between Phoenix, AZ and Los Angeles, CA that said, “Two or More Absences a Month Make a Child More Likely to Be Held Back.” I’m not sure who paid for the advertisement, but my thought was: “duh!”
Sumi Akter is a 10-year-old girl who lives in Bangladesh. She had struggled with an upset stomach and that kept her from attending school. Her parents figured keeping her home to rest was the best solution.
In reality, Sumi had intestinal worms, likely caused by poor sanitation and dirty drinking water in her community. Her family had heard about deworming medication from their doctor, but due to cultural superstition, they didn’t think the pills were worth taking and just opted to keep their daughter home.
The Truth Will Set You Free
When Food for the Hungry (FH) entered Sumi’s community and conducted a deworming medication distribution, they also had to provide training and education for community members. FH staff taught community leaders about the dangers of intestinal worms and parasites and emphasized the importance of deworming pills. They also taught the leaders about how the pills worked and debunked myths that the pills would cause worse illness, or even death, as so many community members believed.
Sumi’s family and other community members were so relieved to know that there was, in fact, a good solution for their daughter’s health problems. They accepted the pills.
“We didn’t take deworming pills before, but now I feel well and my health is improving after taking these,” Sumi said. “My appetite has been increasing day by day and my weakness is decreasing. From now on, I must take deworming pills every six months and stay well from the worms.”
Sumi Akter was able to resume classes after taking deworming medication.
A New Life, A Better Hope
Now Sumi is thriving! Her stomach aches and dysentery have gone away. She is able to attend school again. With additional lessons on sanitation, her family’s lives are improving drastically. But it’s not just her family! The whole community has improved. Now all the members know about the risk of intestinal worms and are armed to combat them. Children are doing well in school. General health levels have been boosted.