Going Above and Beyond | How SurfAid Staff Save Lives

Friday, February 01, 2019

In remote areas monthly community health clinics (posyandu) are staffed by travelling health professionals who rely on the support of community health volunteers (kaders) to provide basic health services. This nationally-supported structure, however, often fails in the extremely remote, culturally distinct areas where SurfAid works.

During SurfAid’s Mother & Child Health programme on the remote island of Sumba in eastern Indonesia, SurfAid staff worked tirelessly to improve the quality of mother and child health clinics. However, even despite significant improvements to care, some children like Melki, were still not seeing health professionals.

At 13 months old Melki weighed just 6.4kg (14 lbs), the same he weighed at 10 months old, and SurfAid Health Promotion Officer, Meitty, worried Melki mightn’t survive. His parents weren't coming to the clinic, so Meitty decided to do house visits.

~I visited Melki’s home everyday for 6 days to coach his parents how to prepare healthy and nutritious food, how to feed him and basic skills on hygiene such as handwashing with soap, drinking boiled water and bathing Melki~

Today Melki and his sister are regular attendants at the community health clinic and have gained enough weight to be deemed healthy.

It is stories like Melki’s and reflections from dads like Sepri who attended SurfAid’s parenting class, that assure us we are on the right track.

~In the beginning, I didn’t want to join this activity. Honestly, I better go to my rice fields to cut rice so I can earn a little income. But after I follow the introduction, I think this parenting thing is good and benefiting us as parents. I want that my children, when they are big, they can be like the SurfAid guys; they taught all the good things for us villagers~

During SurfAid’s programme in Sumba 1,461 community health workers received over 280 coaching sessions, improving the quality of 16 monthly community health clinics. Lifting the confidence and capacity of the community health volunteers has resulted in increased demand with an extra 30% of mums now regularly attending the clinics - including parents of Melki!

SurfAid Community Health Volunteer coaches mothers on good parenting

While there is work to be done, SurfAid is grateful to our 100% local field staff, the communities we support, and the communities whom support us: the public, businesses, foundations and government partners.