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Mean and Ben’s Story: With their mother unable to sustain them, these twins faced a tragic outcome – until BFT came to help.

Infant mortality in Cambodia, at 95 deaths per 1,000 live births, is amongst the highest in Southeast Asia. In the rural areas, the rate is even higher and when a mother has babies close together, the rate jumps even higher. So when twin baby boys Mean and Ban were born in November and returned with their mother from hospital to their village only one day after their birth,  the outlook was not good. The village of Taom is remote and the government provides few support services. Around two thirds of adults cannot read or write. More than half of the families cannot afford any meat or quality protein in their diet and infant death is a common occurrence.

The babies were very underweight. The mother was breastfeeding but finding it difficult to satisfy the babies who cried all night. The father had returned from working in Thailand to look after his wife and two older children, but now there was no income to buy food. The cost of infant formula was far out of the range of this poor family. It is likely that, without intervention, one or both of the babies would have died and the health of the mother would have been in danger.

But this family was lucky. It was one of more than thirty supported by BFT. Over recent years, together with its partners, BFT had been starting to deliver hygiene and medical programmes, educational resources and general infrastructure-building. When the babies were two weeks old, concerned villagers took the mother and babies to seek help from BFT. They found that the mother was malnourished and had insufficient quality nutrition to sustain her babies. BFT was able to provide protein  food and educate the mother on the need for good nutrition to provide adequate food for babies and to keep herself healthy.

Over the following 3 months, BFT volunteers visited the family regularly to check on their condition. The family were provided with beef, oil, eggs fruit and vegetables as well as a small amount of money to buy food and other necessities of life. They were also provided with a water filter to ensure a clean water supply.

During that period, the twins’ father was able to find some work at the nearby pagoda. He was also able to catch some fish and they had found wild vegetables to supplement their diet.

Life for this family will never be easy, but now Mean and Ban are growing and putting on weight, their mother has a healthy diet and a chance to recover her health and strength, and the family has a future to look forward to.