Indonesia: Reaching her dreams - a child and mother health program is helping a mother achieve her goals

Originally published
By Akim Dharmawan
Ibu Yulianti is a housewife with three children, two boys and one girl. She lives with her husband and children in a small rented two-story house in a very narrow street in Jakarta, Indonesia. The first floor contains a small bathroom and open kitchen, while the second floor has a small bedroom and a terrace.

Imron Herianto, her 19-year-old son, was forced to drop out of high school. "We don't have enough money to support school fees for two children," Ibu Yulianti said. So Imron had to leave and let his sister continue her studies. He plans to find a job to help the family. He is still unemployed, though he has occasional labor as a pump machine repairman. The second child, Nurrohmahwati, 13, is a student in junior high school. The youngest child is M. Nurrahman. He is now nine months old.

Her husband, Imam Safei works as a guard at an electronic shop. His earns a little more than $30 a month, barely enough to cover the family's basic needs.

Nine months ago, Ibu Yulianti became a participant in the Mercy Corps Maternal and Child Health (MCH) program. The MCH program is designed to assist low-income mothers with children under the age of five. As a participant in the program Ibu Yulianti receives 10 kilos of rice, 4 kilos of wheat-soy blend (WSB) and 0.3 kilos of vegetable oil per month to help feed her children.

Ibu Yulianti says that receiving monthly food donations has gone a long way towards helping her family to meet their food needs. At least it can decrease her expenses for buying rice, and the money can be saved for other needs. Beside that, her children's health, especially that of the youngest, is getting better. At every weighing in the posyandu (local health post), his weight increases.

"After we got food donation, my child has become fat," she said. "Usually, I cook 'Tiwul' from WSB (steam WSB and and added scraped coconut) for children breakfast. Besides that, sometimes I cook pudding from WSB as snack. And the children like it."

This donation has also led to a good relationship with the kader (the local health volunteer) and neighborhood.

"I always ask the kader and neighborhood how to care for the children and keep them healthy, and sometimes we share recipe information for cooking WSB," she said.

She hopes her children can get more education. Even though her first child didn't finish school, she doesn't want the same to happen to her second child - she'd like her to at least finish high school. She also has a dream to have own house in her hometown, in Tegal, to spend her old age with her husband.

"Now, my desire is to run and own a small shop. I hope my savings can makes my dream come true. Beside that, saving is very important because we never know when child getting sick or if there is an important need," she said.

Food donations from the Mercy Corps TAP program are helping her with those savings and bringing her closer to achieving her dreams.

Akim Dharmawan is a monitor for the Mercy Corps Maternal and Child Health (MCH) program in Indonesia.

Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided more than $640 million in aid to 74 nations. The agency currently reaches more than 5 million people in over 30 countries. More than 91 percent of the Mercy Corps' resources are allocated to programs that help those in need.