Deep Roots, Strong Moms: Stories from Indigenous Women

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Mothers Work Hard to Improve the Lives of Their Children

Endemic cultures are rich in history, steeped in traditions, and profound inter-connectedness. Despite the challenges of colonialism, poverty, and discrimination, mothers all over the world continue to persevere and provide the best they can for their children. Let’s take a moment to meet some of the moms who are a part of the Vitamin Angels worldwide community.

Thu, Vietnam

Thu is a dedicated mother who ensures that her family eats a healthy and balanced diet. For every meal, she prepares sticky rice paired with other dishes like pancakes, pork ribs, and vegetables. However, Thu has a little secret, she minces extra vegetables and sneaks them into the dishes to ensure that her children consume the nutrients they need without them knowing! 

A proud mother of two boys, Thu’s eldest son (10) was born after only an hour of labor. Her youngest son, Duc (2),  loves tagging along with his older brother. Both boys share a love for football (soccer) and dancing. Thu’s greatest hope for her children is that they become active members of their community.

Thu and her family belong to the Thai ethnic group (not to be confused with the people of Thailand), which is one of more than 50 ethnic groups in Vietnam. Married Thai women traditionally wear a high bun on their heads to indicate that they are married and move in with their husbands and their families after marriage. Thu indicated that she still sees her own family regularly, they come to visit and in turn, she visits her parents’ village.

Seidy, Guatemala

Seidy lives in a traditional Mayan community nestled in the highlands of southeastern Guatemala. At 18 years old, she is currently eight months pregnant with her first baby, who she believes is a boy. To ensure the best possible outcome for her upcoming home birth, she has been diligently taking prenatal vitamins and minerals provided by Vitamin Angels.

Living in a relatively isolated area, Seidy’s community is limited in terms of food options. The nearest grocery store is a two-hour drive away, making it challenging to access fresh produce and other essentials. As a result, her diet consists mainly of locally available foods including apples, oranges, mandarins, chicken soup, and a few traditional vegetables, including Malanga (a root vegetable) and squash.

Seidy’s community is known for growing and selling cardamom. Guatemala is the world’s largest exporter of cardamom, which is commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Growing cardamom requires specific and unique conditions, and the labor-intensive harvesting process is done by hand, making it a highly-valued ingredient and one of the world’s most expensive spices. Seidy sometimes uses it in her cooking, particularly as a base for soups and broths.

Despite the challenges that come with living in a remote part of the world, Seidy remains hopeful for a healthy delivery and a happy, thriving baby.

Ariana, Indonesia

Ariana and her daughter, Akila, live in a community in the southernmost province of Indonesia, on the island of Sumba. This entirely rural island has been home to the Sumba People for thousands of years. Rich in culture, the island is known partly for its distinctive ancient architectural style featuring pointed roofs. A local explained the symbolic meaning of the design: the top is for the spirit, the middle for the family, and the bottom for the animals. Nowadays pitched roofed buildings are primarily used as places of worship.

To become a mother is a blessing.”

– Afliana, Mom in Indonesia

Afliana indicated that as an infant, Akila had been feeling uncomfortable due to intestinal worms. After receiving her first dose of albendazole from Vitamin Angels in Indonesia, Ariana noticed her daughter was much more active. She is now back to singing her favorite song, “Happy Birthday.” Afliana has a dream for Akila to someday become a midwife, an aspiration she and her husband are committed to supporting by ensuring her access to education.