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Script 57.6

Notes to broadcasters

A good diet — both for expectant mothers and their children — is essential for healthy children.  This drama explains why, and gives some suggestions for a nutritious diet.

Script

Characters:

Narrator:
Host of radio program.
Elizabeth:
Young woman, recently married and moved to her husband’s village.
Mrs. Nyanga:
Elizabeth’s mother.

Narrator:
After walking all morning, Elizabeth has finally arrived at her mother’s village. This is the first time Elizabeth has visited her mother as a married woman. Elizabeth is eager to tell her mother, Mrs. Nyanga, all the news from her husband’s village. Listen to the happy reunion between mother and daughter.

Mrs. Nyanga:
Elizabeth, is that you? Oh, I am so happy, my daughter has come to visit her old mother. How are you my child? Is your husband treating you well? Are you being good to your new family? Are they pleased with you?

Elizabeth:
[LAUGHING] Greetings mother! So many questions! I am fine and happy to see you looking so well! Yes, my husband and family are well and send you their greetings. They wanted me to bring you these vegetables from their garden.

Mrs. Nyanga:
What lovely tomatoes. Your new family must be pleased with you. Come here, daughter, and let me look at you.

MUSICAL PAUSE.

Yes, you are carrying a child! I am sure of it! My daughter has become a woman!

Elizabeth:
Mother! How can you say this … I have only been married a few months! How can you tell if I am pregnant? Even I do not know if this is true. Please do not say such things!

Mrs. Nyanga:
A mother can tell. I know. Come here daughter and sit with me. I want to hear all your news about your new home. Suzanne, bring us some tea for my pregnant daughter and me.

Elizabeth:
[LAUGHING] Mother, you have not changed at all. It is as if time stood still!

Mrs. Nyanga:
Yes, yes Elizabeth. Before you tell me your news I must tell you some things. I am concerned for your child.

Elizabeth:
Mother, stop …. I …

Mrs. Nyanga:
No, listen. I am speaking to you — mother to mother. Except I am old and you must listen while I still breathe.

Elizabeth:
Yes, of course mother.

Mrs. Nyanga:
First, I want to make this clear. You must not fast for the next few years.

Elizabeth:
What do you mean mother?

Mrs. Nyanga:
We have many different occasions for fasting. [GIVE EXAMPLES OF LOCAL RELIGIOUS OR CULTURAL OCCASIONS FOR FASTING.] It is not good to go without food when you are pregnant. This practice will harm your unborn child. Also, after your child is born you must continue eating very well, every day. You will be breast feeding. Your baby will need the food that you put into your body to give it its own food from your breast.

Elizabeth:
Breast feeding? But mother, now they have all these baby food formulas in town. We women do not need to breast feed after the first few months!

Mrs. Nyanga:
Elizabeth, you have seen your younger brothers and sisters grow. Did I not breast feed each one? And for nearly two years as well?

Elizabeth:
Yes … but ..

Mrs. Nyanga:
And you have seen Mrs. Haile and her children?

Elizabeth:
You mean the shopkeeper’s wife? As babies, her children were always sick. Even now, her eldest Sarah does not look well.

Mrs. Nyanga:
You speak the truth Elizabeth. And one reason her children are always sick is because Mrs. Haile did not breast feed her children for very long. Because they have money she thought it would be better to use these special baby formulas. You see, with these special formulas you must always use water. If the water is bad then the child will be sick. It is better to feed your children from your own breast for as long as you can. This is natural food. But, as a mother to be, you must eat a good meal every day as often as possible. Remember, you are eating for two people.

Elizabeth:
It is hard to do this when you have a husband and family to feed, mother.

Mrs. Nyanga:
Yes, I agree that it can be difficult. But think how much harder it is to care for your children when they are always sick. Is it not better to prevent the problem and save money? Your children are your future.

Elizabeth:
You are right mother. I will learn from your example and breast feed all my children as long as possible. I understand now that fasting is not a good idea while I am pregnant or have a new baby.

Mrs. Nyanga:
Yes, Elizabeth this is very important what I am telling you. I want to have healthy grandchildren! Now listen — there is more you must know.

Elizabeth:
You have given this much thought, mother!

Mrs. Nyanga:
I have lived many years and had many children who are healthy and strong. I also watch my neighbours and know what is not good for children.

Elizabeth:
Mother, how can you tell what is good and not good for other children?

Mrs. Nyanga:
Look at our neighbours’ children, Elizabeth. Do you see the little ones?

Elizabeth:
Yes.

Mrs. Nyanga:
Do you see how tall they are? They are a good height for their age and they look like healthy six year olds — always smiling with lots and lots of energy. Sometimes too much … they are always chasing my chickens!

Elizabeth:
[LAUGHING] I remember doing this as a child.

Mrs. Nyanga:
Yes, you children were also energetic and healthy because I fed you well. We had a kitchen garden so that even when times were difficult I was always able to give you vegetables and fruit.

Elizabeth:
I remember having many colours of food on my plate. Even when we didn’t have much food there was always some green leafy vegetables on our plates.

Mrs. Nyanga:
I believe that our kitchen garden is the reason we are all so healthy. Now, do you see the children across the way?

Elizabeth:
Yes, they are sitting outside under the shade the children — why are they not playing?

Mrs. Nyanga:
I will tell you. This house — the family has lots of money. But the mother! She takes this money and instead of buying vegetables and fruits for her family she buys sodas and biscuits. This woman! She spends all the money on food that her children like to eat. But, this food does not give the children strength to grow. They need grains, and fruits and vegetables [NAME STAPLE FOODS OF YOUR COUNTRY LIKE … RICE OR MAIZE, ETC.] — not sugary foods. Children cannot grow healthy and strong on sugar. If they eat these things every day they will become weak and their teeth will fall out.

Elizabeth:
Their teeth will fall out?

Mrs. Nyanga:
I am telling you the truth. Your uncle was very fond of soda and he lost many of his teeth before he was even married!

Elizabeth:
[LAUGHING] I always thought uncle’s teeth fell out from too much work!

Mrs. Nyanga:
This is serious, Elizabeth! You can tell many things about the health of a child from their appearance and how active they are. Food can even affect their ability to learn. If a child is weak, they also do poorly in school.

Elizabeth:
Yes, I remember when I went to school, if I missed the first meal in the morning I could not think properly and do my math!

Mrs. Nyanga:
Yes, and this is another important point to remember. Now, many of these schools are serving children the morning or afternoon meal. It is common for mothers to think that this food that their children get is enough. So when the children come home they do not feed them — just the adults.

Elizabeth:
How is this possible?

Mrs. Nyanga:
Well many mothers feel that there is not enough food and the child has already eaten at school. I am telling you — children need lots of food, both girls and boys. They need food to give them energy to grow and be strong. Many times children become sick because they are not being fed like the adults even though there is plenty of food.

Elizabeth:
You are right mother. I will take what you have told me today and when I have my children I will remember your words!

Mrs. Nyanga:
I think that this will be sooner than you think …. now my daughter … tell me your news ….

MUSICAL BREAK.

Narrator:
Mrs. Nyanga and Elizabeth spoke well into the night about many matters. Mothers, what would you advise your daughters before they become mothers? A healthy diet is the most important factor in having healthy strong children. What are you feeding your families?

Acknowledgements

Contributed by:  Moira Simpson, Researcher/Writer, Windsor, Canada

Reviewed by:  Beth Miller, Gender Specialist, Heifer Project International, Arkansas, USA.

Information Sources

Food for You, Margaret McWilliams & Linda Davies, Linda, Ginn & Company; Massachusetts, 1971.

Website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Website of the International Centre for Research on Women