Thursday, 20 September 2012

The magic of Sophy

Sophy and the vegetable patch is a new storybook for Cambodian children. It will soon be in the hands of grade 5 students to help set them up for a healthy future. 

The book has been jointly published by Australian Centrefor International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Maddox-Jolie Pitt Foundation (MJP) in English and is soon to be available in Khmer. 

"Our aim was to produce a book to help stop malnutrition by passing messages about the importance of eating a diverse healthy diet onto children and their parents."
Stephan Bognar, Chief Executive Officer, Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation

The story is centred on Sophy, a spirited and adventurous girl and her vegetable garden.  The location is set in rural villages in north-western Cambodia where many trees have been cleared to make way for farming. 

'Sophy' illustrated by Makara Sing
The story has a strong underlying theme of gender empowerment with a young girl portrayed as the heroine of the day. 

In the colourfully illustrated story Sophy learns how eating a variety of whole foods, such as vegetables and eggs, can make her family healthier

I’ve seen first-hand the need for more knowledge and information about the benefits of eating a healthy, diverse diet in poor, rural farming communities across the country. Just because they’re farmers does not necessarily mean they have a strong understanding of food and its impact on children’s growth and development. 

Sophy and the vegetable patch will be used in a teaching unit on nutrition for grade 5 students in the five primary schools in north-western Cambodia actively supported by MJP.  

Children in Cambodia get a 'sneak peak' at Sophy and the vegetable patch
Image CC BY Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation

The students will learn not only in the classroom, but also in the field.  They will get involved in various activities such as learning about soil, plants, compost and helping to establish vegetable gardens in each school.

We want to give the children the information and skills needed to ensure they understand the benefits of eating a variety of food groups and know how to grow them.  

Guest blog post author: Stephan Bognar
Through Sophy and the vegetable patch we hope to not only reach the students, but also their families and future mothers.  
We plan to also use the book in our village-based mother support groups.  It will help teach mothers and mothers-to-be about the benefits of eating and growing natural foods that can be prepared at home. 

Stephan Bognar, Chief Executive Officer, Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation

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