Positive Changes in Mentawai Indonesia

Food for the Hungry (FH) started working in Indonesia after the December 2004 tsunami that killed 283,000 people. We help people in devastated communities to rebuild their lives and their homes. In 2011, we began long-term development work in agriculture, education and income generation. Here are some of the areas in which we’ve been engaged:

FH work in the Muntei community of Mentawai, Indonesia, has brought positive changes. A rubber plant nursery was started with about 30,000 seeds. It has served as a new source of income for the families, giving them hope for a better life! Fathers have become more active and have formed nine farming groups. Five savings groups of women have shared their savings so that others families might benefit as well.

A new building for the Muntei elementary school and the community library which FH was instrumental in developing has encouraged more children to learn. Now children can read at school and borrow books from the new library. There is also a new program for illiterate men and women who are wanting to learn to read. As a result, they will be able to help their children become more interested in reading and learning too.

The overall health of mothers and children has improved as a result of FH’s distribution of nutritional supplements. The number of participants has increased, with 90 percent of the mothers attending the monthly health post activity. Mothers have also become aware of the importance of the nutrients their babies need. Before now, most of the mothers preferred to go to the fields to work, instead of caring for their babies’ weight, growth and wellness.

In April 2014, FH started a savings group program with mothers in Muntei. The four groups consisted of seventy-six mothers. FH has trained them to manage their money to increase their savings. Right now there are four new savings groups which gives a total of eight groups in Muntei. The added income for their families has improved their quality of life by making it possible to buy some of the necessities they need for good general health.

A demonstration plot, which was implemented by FH in May 2014 for an agriculture project in the community, already has 13 mothers participating. Their hard work and excitement for the project have proven to be beneficial. They have harvested different types of vegetables to sell at the market, and the money earned can be saved for future needs. The fresh vegetables have provided the vitamins and minerals they and their children need for adequate nutrition.

Working with the local government, FH held a community event for the people, giving them an opportunity to meet and share with others. The Thanksgiving activities held in January 2015 served to bring the community together again for a time of social gathering. The enthusiasm generated by these events has helped to build a unity among the people.