WABA Youth Breastfeeding Newsletter

Issue No. 4
May 2009


A big hello to everyone and greetings from the WABA Secretariat in Penang. My name is Sri Umeswaran, I joined WABA in March 2009 as the Project Officer for Information & Outreach Services, after Koh Kah Ling left. It gives me great pleasure to introduce myself to members of the WABA YOUth Initiative and to kick-start the WABA Youth Newsletter for this year of 2009 by sharing with you my first three months at WABA.

As a young father to be (my baby is due in October 2009) I am fortunate to get to know about the WABA Men’s Initiative & WABA YOUth Initiative. These programmes will help me learn and prepare myself to be the “best” father for my child.

Here I would like to share some of my experiences since joining WABA.

1) A ‘YouTube’ video that made me cry

This video is about love. The pictures were made with so much love and passion that they really touched me and moved me deeply. I love the scenery, the collages, the beautiful blending of the pregnant mother with nature.

The whole extended family is there to support the pregnant woman. It is a video about sustained family relations, mutual understanding and support. This is not a common scene in videos of people giving birth. The new baby is wanted, expected and welcomed. I love the bonding of the mother and baby after birth. It was so sweet. Cesarean for the mother was traumatic, a trial. The first moment after birth, looking into the mother’s eyes you can see the pain and exhaustion. But a few seconds later she is blossoming like a flower, embracing her baby with her soul, touching it softly with her lips, whispering “I love you”.

There is such a feeling of love and loss at the same time. The mother knowingly made sacrifices for the baby, bore the pain of childbirth, and at the same time exude a river of love from her soul to bathe her baby. Her tears turned into refreshing live waters washing her baby with love – a love so pure, so intense, so deep, and so fresh.

Click here to experience the joy of giving birth.

2) HIV /AIDS Conference organised by AIESEC USM, Penang.

I participated in an HIV/AIDS conference organised by the world’s largest student organisation, AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) Committee of University Science Malaysia (USM) in Penang on 4 April 2009. This conference is the culmination of the students’ semester course HIV 101 . It gives an overview on the issue including HIV in Malaysia and infant feeding and HIV. The conference was attended by about 120 youths in their ages of 14 to late 20’s, from 3 countries.

As this was my first experience going as a WABA delegate to present a 15 minutes overview of WABA programs, I was fortunate to have WABA’s Technical Advisor Amal Omer-Salim from IMCH Uppsala University, Sweden with me. Amal provided technical info on Breastfeeding & HIV and corrected the delegates of misconceptions on the issue.

Amal explained the AFASS criteria (acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe) according to the current WHO (World Health Organisation) HIV and infant feeding recommendations state that only when replacement feeding is AFASS avoidance of all breastfeeding by HIV-infected women is recommended. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for HIV-infected women for the first six months of life unless replacement feeding is AFASS for them and their infants before that time.

During one of the parallel workshops, a group acted out an impromptu role-play explaining when and how AFASS assessments should be done. The delegates were very active during the Q & A session and wanted to know more about Breastfeeding and HIV. They were interested in the WABA YOUth Initiative and how and what YOUth can to do protect, promote and support breastfeeding especially the networking.

Sri presenting an overview of WABA Amal (in blue top) & me (with tie) together with AIESEC members Delegates listening during the Breastfeeding & HIV session
Sri presenting an overview of WABA
Amal (in blue top) & me (with tie) together with AIESEC members
Delegates listening during the Breastfeeding & HIV session

3) Video Distribution Workshop – ‘How to get your critical videos out there’

This was a two-day workshop sponsored and conducted by EngageMedia.org on 18-19 April 2009 in Penang. Engagemedia (www.engagemedia.org) has shared on how producers of critical films around the world are distributing their videos online. EngageMedia is an online video sharing website focused on social justice and environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific region, whom based at Melbourne, Australia. EngageMedia is a video sharing site focusing on social justice and environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific. It is a space for critical documentary, fiction, artistic and experimental works that challenge the dominance of the mainstream media. EngageMedia aims to demystify and provide access to these new technologies, create an online archive of independent video productions using open content licenses and form a peer network of video makers, educators and screening organisations.

The workshop taught me about distribution principles of useful video clips online. The video clips could be on indigenous land rights, political turmoil or our community coming together to solve an environmental issue and video which I think that other people would benefit from watching.

The workshop had sessions on:

  1. FOSS – what is it and why is it relevant to progressive movements.

    FOSS – Free & Open Source Software.

    • It is free.
    • Can be used for any purpose.
    • Can be modified by any IT programmers.
    • Can copy the program.
    • Can improve the program.
    • Can get the updated version for free too.

    • Open to everyone.
    • If we modify it, we also have to share the modification done to the rest.
    • Frequent updates.
    • Takes time to upload.
    • No warranty.
    • Some would not be stable.

  2. Distribution workflow:

    1. Planning & Research

    2. Compress

    3. License (Open Content Licensing)

    4. Publish / Upload

    5. Promote

    6. Play the compressed video in the net.

I find the technical aspects of this workshop very useful as I can now better contribute to the upgrading of the WABA website with video streaming. When asked how youths can participate in WABA youth program, the sharing of such technological know-how is one big way.

4) International Workshop for Global Activists
‘Making a Better World – Small actions, big changes’

This is a one day workshop to teach participants the core awareness of current public interest issues and how to be a local and global activist. It was a one day workshop organised by The Right Livelihood College (RLC) lead by Professor Dato’ (Dr) Anwar Fazal, Director of RLC and visiting Professor to CenPRIS (Center for Public Policy and International Studies). It was held at the Socio Economic & Environment Research Institute (SERI) in Penang.

It is one of the best workshops that I have ever attended on public interest and social activism. It was conducted in such a way that I liken it to taking the participants for a walk around a garden observing every little thing in that garden. I taught that being an activist it is important to have the skills - capacity building, resource mobilization, advocacy, information and networking, core elements to help direct the rest of the world towards sharing our vision.

It is crucial for an activist to view and relate a vision within the perspectives of social justice, public participation, cultural vibrancy, ecological responsibility and economic productivity, so that the vision can be achieved at a global level.

Prof. Dato’ Dr. Anwar Fazal logo Group of participants
Prof. Dato’ Dr. Anwar Fazal
Group of participants

I feel very fortunate that all these events took place during the first three months of my joining WABA and the Co-Directors included them as part of my orientation and training. In addition, I receive valuable information, training and support from the WABA Secretariat team.

I hope my experiences will inspire you to share your experiences with the rest of the group.


As decided by the WABA YOUth members, the WABA YOUth e-Newsletter will be written and compiled by an individual member. The issue will highlight the experience, new knowledge and skills gained by the Youth member volunteer. The WABA YOUth e-Newsletter should be within 4 pages and each article to about 250 words or less together with the attachments or links to websites. I would like to urge the YOUth members to take the lead and also to contribute to the next issue.

Hope you enjoyed the contents, kindly email me your comments and further enquiries, at sri.umeswaran@waba.org.my

WABA, PO Box 1200, 10850 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: 604-658 4816 Fax: 604-657 2655

E-mail: waba@waba.org.my
Website: www.waba.org.my