Breastfeeding NGO continues outreach to rural areas

National 2 minutes, 5 seconds

BELAIT

BRUNEI’S sole breastfeeding non-governmental organisation (NGO) Hawa will continue its community outreach to mothers from rural areas in Belait, with Liang and Lumut the next areas targeted.

Chairperson of Hawa Hjh Masni Hj Munir yesterday said that the three-year-old organisation had previously engaged mothers in Mukim Labi and Kg Sg Teraban, bringing in health professionals to offer advice, while also seeking out issues faced by mothers from more rural areas.

“Reaching out to these communities in their hometowns was very valuable.

“We are able to get on the ground information about their challenges, and bring the cause of breastfeeding and its benefits to them directly,” said Hjh Masni yesterday after the conclusion of a two-day breastfeeding awareness event at Sentral Shopping Centre in Belait.

During these community visits, Hawa recorded that balancing long commuting journeys to and from work as the biggest challenge faced by mothers from rural areas.

Some mothers from Labi, she said, leave to Belait and Tutong towns as early as 6am everyday and return home only later in the evening.

Steep rentals and property prices prevent these mothers from relocating their families entirely to town areas.

“In these cases, we advised that they store their breast milk, and go through the lactation process at night, at their own pace and when they are more relaxed,” said Hjh Masni.

She also pointed out that perceptions are shifting positively towards breastfeeding, partially due to a growing amount of research proving breast milk to be more beneficial over formula.

However, addressing the issue of convenience still remains an obstacle.

“For working mothers, there are still those who prefer formula simply because it is more convenient, so there is still more convincing and raising of awareness that needs to be done,” she said.

At the same time, the overall environment has to be made more conducive, with public and work spaces needing to provide amenities and policies that support breastfeeding.

Meanwhile, Hawa is also planning to partner with the National Anti-Drug Association of Brunei Darussalam (BASMIDA), as Hjh Masni has sought for BASMIDA’S president to be their special advisor.

“BASMIDA's president Datin Hjh Masni Hj Mohd Ali has welcomed the idea of being special advisor to Hawa. Her wealth of experience on the medical side will definitely help us,” said Hjh Masni.

She added that the collaboration could highlight how illicit drugs affect breastfeeding and explore how breastfeeding promotes a “stronger mother-child” bond which could play a role in deterring future drug use.

The Brunei Times