Stories: A Mother’s Promise

by Esther Tidthau

Esther Tidthau with her daughter Januaria Sae.  Enonabuasa Village, Noebeba Sub-district, TTS District, Nusa Tenggara Timur/NTT Province, Indonesia

Esther Tidthau with her daughter Januaria Sae. Enonabuasa Village, Noebeba Sub-district, TTS District, Nusa Tenggara Timur/NTT Province, Indonesia. Photo: CWS

I have four healthy children – but that has not always been the case.

We are a poor family and we could not afford to buy meat. We did not feed vegetables to our children. I used to cook rice -only porridge for my children because we did not understand the importance of nutrition from vegetables and fruit. Three years ago my son Raden Sae, who back then was only two, was found to be severely malnourished. I found out he was malnourished when a worker from the health center told me during a routine checkup of my son.

The health worker said I should take him to a nearby feeding center, a place that treats malnourished children. I had never heard about the Therapeutic Feeding Center supported by CWS before. So, after getting more information – and answers to my questions – I agreed. I remember when I first arrived. I immediately felt that the TFC was different from any public health center or hospital that I knew. The nurses welcomed us and I saw many children with their mothers receiving treatment.

Because of Raden Sae’s poor nutritional status we stayed at the TFC for 21 days. During our stay, I joined several learning activities, guided by the nurses. Every morning I helped a nurse to weigh Raden Sae and I fed him milk every two to three hours provided by the TFC as part of his rehabilitation. I also joined information sessions led by the nursing staff and I learned how to prepare nutritious food properly – that is, in a clean, hygienic way. I also learned about common diseases and health conditions like anemia, which is related to lack of good nutrition, and diarrhea, which is related to poor hygiene in preparing food and feeding it to children.

While I was busy with the nurses and other mothers, Raden Sae and the other children drank milk and ate rice, vegetables, meat and supplementary vitamins. A doctor came every day to check on the children and provide medicine if it was needed.

Before I found out that Raden Sae was malnourished and we came to the TFC, and even though I have older children, I did not know the importance and meaning of a balanced diet for children. Now I know I should add vegetables to the children’s rice porridge to make it more nutritious. I now plant vegetables such as cassava and pumpkin in my backyard to make this affordable for my family.

I am now a village health post volunteer and can share my knowledge with other parents in my community. Because I have been lucky with my son, and have had a chance to learn a lot, I have promised myself not to let malnutrition happen to any of my children ever again. I have been feeding my fourth and youngest child, my infant daughter Januaria Sae, in a nutritious way, using the knowledge I gained when I was with Raden Sae in the TFC. I thank God that my daughter has never been malnourished.

The CWS Center is a very good place, because it takes care of malnourished children until they are healthy while also making it possible for mothers, like me, to learn about ways to raise healthy children. I am so grateful to CWS for the help we all – my own family and our neighbors in the area – have received, and hope CWS will continue to help malnourished children and communities in this area.