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Saving lives through BETTER hygiene in Indonesia

Almost two years ago, my son Jakub* was very sick. I want to tell you what happened to him and why I now have hope for my family’s future. I am Martina and with my husband and four young children I live in the countryside in South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia.

Jakub was only aged five at the time. He woke up during the night with severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Our local medical centre is free, but I couldn’t afford the bike-taxi fare to get there. The fare is equal to almost a month’s wages which I didn’t have spare.

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I did all I knew how to heal him. I made him medicine from herbs in my garden. I mixed the herbs with warm water for him to drink. But my son didn’t get any better and the vomiting and diarrhoea didn’t stop. I was very scared for Jakub.

As the hours passed Jakub was becoming weaker. With the help of my neighbours I got transport and took him to the community health centre for treatment. The nurses there gave him medicine and I saw the fever leave him. He was able to rest as the vomiting and diarrhoea stopped. The nurses looked after Jakub, and I know that if I hadn’t been able to get him into their care, he could have died.

Our home has no clean water or a toilet so my children use the fields when they go to the bathroom. The nurses explained to me that if Jakub had known to wash properly after going to the toilet in the fields then it is likely that he wouldn’t have gotten so ill. Jakub had to miss a week of school as he got his strength back. School is very important for his future and I don’t want any of my children unwell or to miss out on school.

As part of their schooling this year, all the local children have learned from their teachers step-by-step how to clean and wash their hands thoroughly. This is the best way to prevent germs getting into their bodies after going to the toilet or playing outside where there is human waste. I only wish the hygiene program was in schools a few years ago because it would have made the difference for my son.

I am thankful for the new hygiene program in school that teaches children to keep clean and stop germs. The children learn to wash their hands after going to the toilet, then to wash again before they eat, and to wash again each time they have been outside. As a mother I am so pleased to see that our children are learning how to stay healthy. Jakub has even taught me what he has learned at school, which helps keep our whole family strong.

Thank you for making our lives better and helping my children stay healthy and go to school.

 - Martina 

* Names have been changed to protect identities

Prayer points:

• Give thanks for the dedication of teachers to teach children in this remote, rural area.
• Pray for the fruits of education to transform lives and give hope to families for the future.

Tana Toraja and Morowali districts in South Sulawesi, Indonesia are extremely poor areas: nearly a quarter of residents are living below the poverty line –double that of any other part of Indonesia.

According to UN statistics, in Indonesia the second largest killer of children under five is diarrhoea. This is largely due to poor water and sanitary conditions. The best way to address faecal contamination of food and drinking water is by preventing it from happening in the first place. Regular hand-washing after defecation and before handling water or food minimises the risk of sickness and contamination of food and water from dirty hands.

With the support of Act for Peace, Church World Service (CWS) is focused on improving access to water supply and sanitation facilities. The wash program which teaches entire classes how to stop contamination is active in 10 schools and teaches infants and primary school aged children to wash thoroughly and why it is important to do so. This program benefits 2,254 children.

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More ways to take action

You can help prevent children like Maala being born with chronic illnesses by helping pregnant women stay healthy and nourished in the first place.

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