Wayland Joseph Blue, myself, and Carrien Leith Blue have co-authored a paper on the benefits of community-based health education and nutritional support on the birth outcomes among migrant workers in Maesot, Thailand, recently published in the International Social Science Review.
We worked on this article together because it was important to share with the world how low-cost education and nutritional supplementation can massively improve birth weight and early childhood health. The Charis Project / Shade tree Foundation have been active on such tasks for many years now, and I have be honoured to get to be a part of documenting their great work. To quote the first author Wayland: “These approaches aren’t limited to developing countries. They are as relevant in inner-city communities in the United States as they are in rural Thailand and Myanmar.”
The acknowledgment section of the article didn’t make it through proofing, so I put that material here on my website. We wanted to thank Zohreh Bayatrizi for being an early reader of the article and providing great feedback, and for TinTin’s efforts in helping us meticulously work through all of the data we had – she spend many days enduring my rather thorough questions. These questions extended beyond what we put in the article, and helped Charis reorganize their records. I am also grateful that UC permitted me to spend some of my Sabbatical time on this task as it is outside of my usual research focus. In addition, Pi Gamma Mu has proven itself dedicated to making excellent social science research freely available. In an age of far too many important articles behind paywalls, I am glad that this article is not, and I would like to thank Pi Gamma Mu and all of their alumni for making this possible.
Here is presented a retrospective review of the Charis Project’s Family Engagement Program (FEN) as it existed in 2014-2017. FEN was a program of women’s health education, nutrition supplements, and family visitation. The education program consisted of a 12-week course on nutrition, maternity, and sex education taught individually and in groups, focusing on pregnant Burmese migrant laborers, but including approximately 20 percent male participation. The nutrition supplements consisted of 5 kilograms of fresh vegetables and 12 eggs weekly to pregnant mothers, from course onset to about six months after childbirth depending on family needs. Family visitation took place during food deliveries, and focused on individual counselling and family stability. The program served 39 families from 2014-2017. FEN did not reduce neonatal mortality (due to a miscarriage and severe congenital birth defect), but resulted in all surviving infants being born normal weight and surviving to the end of 2019, representing a significant improvement over the 25.6 percent low birth weights reported for Kayin State, Myanmar.