Saturday, September 27, 2008

Heartwarming Story of the Day ...

In a world where it's pretty much every man for himself, it's nice to hear about organizations operating for the good of others, even if they never get any credit for it. Here's some well-deserved credit, then: Reader Caitlin Carlson sent in an update of her time in Indonesia with Mercy Corps, helping establish breastfeeding program for local mothers. Here's what she had to say:

"For all its and modernity, Jakarta, the 11th largest city in the world, still has great economic disparity, where high rise office buildings overlook impoverished inner city slums.

Traveling with Mercy Corps, the global relief and development organization, I had the opportunity to visit one of those slums. I was there to see Mercy Corps’ breastfeeding programs that operate in a number of slums across Jakarta. The program educates the poor and trains midwives on the benefits of breastfeeding.

Currently in Indonesia, marketing activities of formula companies is unregulated, which has led to widespread mistrust of the natural process of breastfeeding. Poor families are told to formula feed and are often forced to dilute what little they are able to buy, robbing their children of nutrition vital to their healthy development. Often this water is unsanitary leading to severe cases of diarrhea and dehydration.

After battling the constant traffic which plagues Jakarta, a city with virtually no public transportation despite a metro population of over 13 million, we slowly made our way into Tugu Utara village, a slum in North Jakarta. It had just rained the night before and like many low lying slums in Jakarta, the streets regularly flood, often filling the village with unsanitary water.

While in Tugu Utara, I had the pleasure of meeting Efa, a happy, healthy five-month-old girl. Efa’s mother, Nur Komaria, 21, and her husband, Mahfudin, 25, had previously lived with relatives after the birth to Efa. With the encouragement from her midwife Yogiana, who has gone through one of Mercy Corps’ trainings, they decided to breastfeed Efa. But cramped quarters and Efa’s crying took a toll. Fueled by misinformation, Nur’s grandmother tried to force Nur to formula feed as she believed it quieted infants. As a result, Nur and Muhfudin ran away to live on their own so they could continue to breastfeed.

Neighbors around their tiny rented one room apartment cannot believe that Efa is so fat and healthy because of breastfeeding and they’ve always been told it’s better to formula feed their children.

Nur and Mahfudin have many challenges ahead of them as young Indonesians living in a Jakarta slum. But because of the information and support they’ve received from Mercy Corps’ breastfeeding program, worrying about the healthy development of their daughter Efa won’t be one of them."

Best of luck to Caitlin and the work of Mercy Corps, which you can check out here.

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