B1 Intermediate US 18642 Folder Collection
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When I first moved to Cambodia, I lived in a rural village.
It took a little bit of time before people got used to this sort of foreigner wandering around.
Initially, I was here to search for a remedy to a problem: anemia, caused by lack of iron in the blood.
It causes dizziness and weakness.
It breeds complacency and lethargy. Kids can't concentrate in school.
It also causes premature births and problems during pregnancy for women.
Nearly two out of three children are anemic.
But this piece of metal has the power to stop it all.
My challenge was to find a way to supplement the typical Cambodian diet of fish and rice.
I knew that iron pills and other iron treatments weren't really affordable by many people in the villages.
In my search, I found that cooking in a cast iron pot can release iron into the food, and that iron is then absorbed in the diet.
But I realize that most Cambodian women use aluminum pots because they're cheaper and lighter.
And then I got to thinking: what if I could get them to put this chunk of iron in their pot?
It would be a simple, cheap and accessible treatment that even remote villagers could use.
But my simple solution had one big problem:
I found that the women were hesitant to add this sort of ugly piece of iron into their pots.
I found that the iron blocks came in very useful, but just not in the pots.
And so I realized I had to dig a little bit deeper.
I searched for everything. I looked at sayings and beliefs. I looked at rituals,
anything that would give me a better understanding of Cambodian culture.
And then, I landed this: a symbol of good luck.
I think I was a little bit shocked when I found out how positive the findings were.
In the test areas, anemia has pretty much disappeared altogether, which was absolutely astounding.
It far exceeded what we had expected.
We're hoping that this little fish holds the key to treating anemia across the region and beyond.
It's definitely one lucky fish!
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Lucky Iron Fish: Shape of Health

18642 Folder Collection
Tina Hsu published on April 19, 2018
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