While Indonesia's economy has grown significantly in the last decade, malnutrition among young children is still dangerously high. And while malnutrition can lead to early death, that’s not the only danger. If not addressed, millions of children may suffer from malnutrition’s life-long effects: stunted growth, developmental delays and more.
As of 2014, it was estimated that a staggering 37% of children in Indonesia were stunted.
Hamidah's three children were among those at risk. Their family lives in a poor farming village in South Sumatra, an island in Indonesia's massive archipelago. Here, inadequate diets among pregnant mothers, lack of knowledge about breastfeeding and nutrition for young children, and poor sanitation were common factors that kept many children from healthy growth and development.
Without a major shift in understanding and habit, Hamidah's and many other children would not grow to their fullest physical or cognitive potential— making it more difficult for them to do well in school or, one day, be able to provide for themselves and their families.
Reducing child stunting through education and hands-on training
To help reduce stunting and ensure brighter futures for children in Indonesia, Corus World Health worked with the U.S. and Indonesian governments to educate communities about stunting and equip clinics to address its root causes.
With the support of our donors, we created educational and entertaining mass media advertisements to increase parents' and caregivers’ understanding of the causes, effects and prevention of stunting. There was a significant knowledge barrier to overcome in some communities; in the local language, there was not an equivalent word for stunting, and the common belief was that a person's short stature was simply genetic.
Through this campaign, more than 44 million people like Hamidah heard the messages about stunting through radio, TV, social media and other channels—leading to a much greater understanding of the issue throughout the nation.
In addition to building awareness about stunting in communities, we also provided support and training to local health centers (called posyandus) to teach parents about nutrition and hygiene practices that help children grow up healthy and strong.
Learning to care for our greatest gifts
Group lessons were a big draw for Hamidah: she walked nearly a mile to the posyandu for classes each month. The young mother says she loved the interactive activities such as pregnancy exercises, quizzes, cooking demonstrations and competitions, and even planting vegetables. Hamidah says her favorite activity always involves cooking.
"I learned so much from these classes, especially about how most instant baby food contains a lot of preservatives," she said. "Now I can make use of so many local ingredients like fish and eel. They taste just as good, if not better. I feel like a chef now.”
Hamidah says her visits to the posyandu also taught her the importance of staying healthy during pregnancy, how to take care of and feed her baby and how to avoid infectious diseases.
"Children are a gift from God," she said. "It’s my duty to keep them healthy."
And thanks to the support of our donors, Hamidah and thousands of other mothers know how to do just that.