Malnutrition in Indonesia Caused by Poverty

by Kelly Lestari

Indonesia is one of the most populated countries in the world where almost half of the population Malnutrition in Indonesia Caused by Poverty - Nutrition for the Worldlive below the poverty line. Two serious problems in Indonesia we need to pay extra attention to are poverty and malnutrition. It is a sad thing for me as an Indonesian to see many of my brothers and sisters that are trying to fight against poverty and malnutrition, while the government does not contribute much. Many children have to drop out of school and do not receive an adequate amount of food that they require because of lack of money. To eat is a blessing for them; since it is very rare that they can get the opportunity. Normally they have to go to the street and beg for money. Poverty is a serious problem in Indonesia. Along the street, we still can see there are lots of small houses as many as ten people inside and who do not have access to electricity or even clean water. A river that is in front of their houses is used for multiple purposes, such as taking a bath, washing dishes or clothes, brushing teeth, disposing of waste, etc.
Malnutrition in Indonesia Caused by Poverty - Nutrition for the World
I had a memorable experience where I helped the poor in a slum area for a year in Jakarta, Indonesia. I taught and gave them a package of food every month which they needed. Since some of the parents of the children that I taught knew me well, I had an opportunity to see and inspect their living conditions. It was not usual for me as an Indonesian-Chinese to interact with native Indonesians who are in a lower class; because of the racial prejudice. However, because I had been interacting with them for a long time and helped them for a year, all of the villagers became nice and treated me like their family member. What they ate everyday mostly was just a variety of grains and one type of vegetable that they planted in their farm, or sometimes they did not even eat when they had no income or harvest.
Malnutrition in Indonesia Caused by Poverty - Nutrition for the World
Adults who have survived infancy may live a longer time but in general, children and infants have a short life expectancy. Malnutrition is one of the concerns for some organizations, such as UNICEF. UNICEF is an organization that I worked with when I was in Jakarta. The most memorable thing while I worked with the UNICEF crew was when we were trying to promote breastfeeding in Indonesia. We had an idea for the poor parents that were worried about what they could feed to their children and infants. We came up with a solution that the mom of the child could breast feed the baby to minimize the death rate. From that solution, a baby could receive better nutrition and did not die because of starvation.
When I did the interv
iew with the poor at the end, they always ended up saying thank you so much for spending time with them. They really did need our help and our time to give them foods and solutions. Although we cannot end poverty totally in a short period of time in Indonesia, at least we can help and reduce the death rate of infants and children.

In addition to the UNICEF experienced, I had another experience helping my community in Jakarta. When living in a native 'Sundanese' family with my classmates. We went there with teachers and classmates. Everyone was assigned to be with one Sundanese family and two friends from the same class. We spent two nights and three days together and followed all the activities that the Sundanese family did. I had no problems following all their activities, but the complaint everyone had at that time was “When can I eat?” We ate once a day with the Sundanese family members. They were so happy to serve my friends and me the best meal that they could provide, which for me, was too little and without an adequate amount of nutrition that they were supposed to have. We had rice, tofu, tempe (made from soybean), and tea for two consecutive days. When I left my Sundanese family and got back to the bus and continued on my school field trip, the teacher told all the students that the Sundanese had prepared the best meal that they could provide; since it was a great honor for them to have friends from Jakarta to visit them.


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