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Three years ago, Dr. Christopher Charles travelled to Cambodia.

What he saw there changed his life forever.

Anemia, which is caused by a lack of iron content in the body, was becoming a major public health concern in the nation. One study found that in some parts of the country, 64.1 per cent of grade-one students suffered from it. The condition disrupts red blood cells, leaving them unable to properly cycle oxygen through the body, which forces its victims to feel weak and fatigued. For children, anemia can even lead to behavioural problems or other cognitive issues.

Obviously, Charles wanted to help.

At the time, available research said that cooking with an iron pot could add the vital metal to a person’s diet. But since most people in Cambodia do not use those kinds of pots, he tried another idea.

His solution? A smiling metal fish.

Iron Fish

Don’t let its smirk fool you, this is a piece of dietary genius. Charles thought up an idea to craft a small hunk of iron into the shape of a fish that is often eaten in Cambodia ( it’s also seen as a symbol of luck). It can single-handedly provide 75 per cent of an adult’s daily intake of iron. All residents need to do is throw it in a boiling pot for at least 10 minutes and let the fish do its job.

“One fish will benefit a whole family, and will last for over 5 years,” said Gavin Armstrong, President of Lucky Iron Fish (as their little invention has come to be known). “When the fish loses its smile, you know it’s time to replace it.”

Roughly 2 billion people currently suffer from anemia worldwide, and so far these fish have helped 51,000 of them. But the company wants to do more.

The metal fish are available in Canada for $25. For every fish you buy, one will also be donated to a family in Cambodia. As for what residents overseas think about the invention?

“They’re actually encouraging other people in the community to get one as well,” Armstrong said.

So what are you waiting for? Get fishing!