Monday, 26 November 2018

UNICEF Indonesia Promotes Public-Private Partnership in Immunizing Children

By: Arie Rukmantara - Chief Field Office, 
Programme/Operation Section, Surabaya


After successfully immunizing 9 million children against Measles and Rubella in Java last year, East Java Provincial Administration and UNICEF are involved in another massive immunization campaign in East Java. The provincial administration aims to immunize 11 million children from 1 to 19-year-old against diphtheria. The drive is called Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI) against Diphtheria. Last year, the province recorded an outbreak that killed more than 10 people, mostly children.

This time the challenge gets greater. Not only the target population is getting larger, but the campaign requires the same child to be vaccinated three times throughout the year 2018. The first vaccination is sometime between February and March, the second is between June and July, the final one is ongoing: November to December.    

However, the forces behind the campaign is also getting bigger. Building up from the momentum of last year’s Measles and Rubella campaign’s success that gained full support of, among others, media company Jawa Pos Group, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, the East Java Council of Ulemas, University of Airlangga, this time the immunization drive is more members to join the band: Entrepreneurs Organization of Indonesia East. The organization consists 13,000 young businesspeople who employ around 3.4 million workers.



Getting more and more excited and determined, on Thursday, 15 November 2018, the Provincial Health Office of East Java, Airlangga University and UNICEF field office in Surabaya, called on everyone, including the mayors and heads of districts across the province to ensure the success of final round of Outbreak Response Immunization on Diphtheria. The first and second rounds had managed to vaccinate over 10,5 million children or 95% of the target.

The commitment was made on Thursday and was also witnessed by a well-known economist and statistician from Technology Institute of Surabaya, Mr. Kresnayana Yahya. His presentation, based on health data he gathered in the last two years, convinced the business audience that investing in child health promise high returns.

Airlangga University also appraised the Head of Trenggalek District Dr. Emil Dardak. The incoming vice governor, and his wife, a well-known artist Arumi Bachsin, played a vital role in ensuring the success of 2017 Measles and Rubella immunization. For his consistency in promoting child health Airlangga University call the vice governor elect as “Bupati Sahabat Anak”. Deputy Representative UNICEF to Indonesia, Robert Gass, handed the appreciation certificate to Dr. Emil witnessed by Head of PHO, Dr. Kohar Hari Santoso.

Mother's love for a girl with HIV positive

By: Dinda Veska – Fundraising Communication Officer


A girl in Kupang is sleeping behind a mosquito net. She’s HIV positive since birth. ©Shehzad Noorani/UNICEF/2018. 


I was still trying to recognize Ibu Teresia when, from across the street, a stocky woman with her hair neatly tied waved her hands toward me.

We went to her house which was barely five minutes away from the corners of Jalan Alak in Kupang District. She asked me to keep my shoes on, as she was worried my socks would pick up the dust from the cement floor.

She then ask permission to dressing up before doing the interview, she returned in a yellow shirt with ‘Citizens for AIDS’ on her left shoulder and she looks charming with the red lips.

On her lap was Alinea (2). It hasn’t been a year since Ibu Teresia adopted the girl – who is HIV positive. Ibu Teresia, as if she could read my mind, she said, “Her mother died when I was working with patients at a hospital. Alinea infected by HIV since she was born."

Ibu Teresia said that she fell in love with Alinea at the first time she saw her lying on the bed next to an HIV-positive woman who was fighting for her life. Ibu Teresia helped to changed the diaper of Alinea's mother, on that moment Alinea's mom asked Ibu Teresia to look after her little daughter.

Few moment after Alinea lost her mom, Ibu Teresia and the family decided to adopting Alinea.

At home, Ibu Teresia educates her children and husband about how to take care of Aliena – with love and compassion. Ibu Teresia has five children, she always remind them to let her now if there is physical injury happen to Alinea.


Ibu Teresia has been working with 8 HIV positive people since 2014. Not only make sure her own household is taken care of, she also actively visits and sits with HIV patients to help them get their treatment at the hospital.

“People with HIV need our support and especially the motivation from their own family.” said Ibu Teresia. You can tell by her stories, she always puts everyone else first.

"Every story from Ibu Teresia shows how she always puts everyone else first."

One of the HIV patients that Ibu Teresia assists is pregnant. This poses a health threat to the baby in her womb, as there is a real risk of mother-to-child transmission. This is also why all expecting mothers need to take HIV test during pregnancy. Today, the test has been made a part of routine pregnancy check-up throughout all healthcare facilities.

“These babies are innocent. They know absolutely nothing of what happened to their mothers. I want to help preventing them from being infected,” said Ibu Teresia, after showing me some healthcare guidelines she always carries with her during home visits.

In Kupang district today more than 1,000 people are HIV-positive (based on the data from healthcare facilities). UNICEF and the local government are working hand in hand to make sure that the healthcare system can reach all pregnant mothers and prevent more children from being infected – because no child should be born with preventable diseases. The prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program is expected to support by the work of AIDS volunteers like Ibu Teresia.

As a volunteer, one of Ibu Teresia’s crucial role is to make sure every pregnant mother she assists regularly takes their treatment. “I really hope there will be no other babies born with the virus,” she said.

©Shehzad Noorani/UNICEF/2018. 

ARV (Antiretroviral) drugs are prescribed to every pregnant mother with HIV to reduce the viral load as much as possible and therefore lower the mother-to-child transmission risk. However, regular blood and HIV tests are required for a child born from an HIV-positive mother – since birth up until the child is 18 years old – to make sure there is zero transmission.

As I reflected on Ibu Teresia’s dedication to others, a childhood song came to mind which is “Kasih Ibu” Song.  It tells about mother's love is infinity, everlasting and expecting nothing in return.  

More than being Alinea’s adoptive mother, Ibu Teresia is a light that will always brighten the path of Alinea, her five children as well as other kids in Kupang she intends to save.


*All of the names in this article have been altered to respect the rights of children.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Learning Brings Hope Amidst the Rubble in Tsunami-stricken Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi


By Lely Djuhari, UNICEF Communication Specialist 



PALU, Indonesia 28 October –  A faint but a determined heartbeat has returned to the provincial capital city of Palu in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi. A month after a powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated this once palm-fringed bayside area, 11-year-old girl Sophia Angelica Majid woke up from her slumber on one sunny morning.

Her room is now a tent, shared with nine other family members and neighbours. Her bed is a mattress, protected by a mosquito net. Her morning routine now includes showering or washing her face and hands with soap; brushing her teeth with water from a large container at the end of a field dotted with white and khaki green canvas temporary shelters.


She no longer has a school bag, full of books. Her laptop, full of homework notes, computer games, and her favourite Disney movies Frozen and Moana, is nowhere to be found.



With only one exercise book and a pen, she started to get ready for her school day. Her mother Evni Majid bid her goodbye as she busied herself filling in a city form to record that she, her husband, Sophia and her two brothers were safe. Though it would be forever imprinted in her mind how they ran desperately to get away from the waves that engulfed large swathes of the shoreline. Sophia’s quick reaction made her grab two mobile phones. They became the family’s lifeline in the following chaotic days, trying to find food, drink and information on where the rest of the family sought refuge.

On Sophia’s 30-minute-walk to school amidst the debris, cars and motorbikes rumbled in the streets as her hometown came back to life.

“Oh my, that entire wall is gone,” Sophia gasped, as she arrived to SDN Inpres II Talise and gazed for the first time the surreal landscape at the back of her school, which faced the waterfront. “It’s heartbreaking. This used to be a neat row of school buildings. There was a large housing complex over there. There used to be durian fruit sellers (on the coastline). Now it’s all gone.”


 
Of the 202 students registered at Sophia’s school only 70 from all the six grades showed up that day. However, she and her friends sat down on the plastic-covered ground ready to learn the first lesson of the day.

It's a long way from normal, but it's a start.
UNICEF was the first UN agency to transport 94 metric tonnes of essential emergency supplies through an airbridge from a neighbouring island of Borneo. Sophie’s school was one of the first to receive the 450 school tents and 300 school-in-a-box that UNICEF has committed to deliver to over 1,400 affected schools, more than184,000 children and nearly 13,000 teachers. UNICEF also successfully advocated a standard-setting first as the Government procured another 150 tents using UNICEF specifications. 




The Head of the Education Office Irwan Lahece has issued a back to school appeal. All schools are to resume school from 8 to 11 AM in the morning, with an hour dedicated to psychosocial support – singing, playing games, talking in a group or one-on-one with the teachers about whatever is on their mind.

But aftershocks are still a regular occurrence. Many parents fear that after surviving thus far, their lives may still be changed for the worse. Officials are still confirming the total number of children who have already regained access to education. They will also step up efforts to clear up broken furniture, mangled metal pieces, shards of glass from the school grounds. Another challenge for the coming months is to set up latrines and handwashing facilities in the school tents.

The searing heat outside of the not-quite-yet noon sun signalled that classes were over. The tent was considerably cooler as the teachers raised the wall flaps to allow air to circulate inside the 72-meter square room. The children – including Sophia - lined up to receive a UNICEF white bag with exercise books, pens, rulers, an eraser, a sharpener and crayons.



A bag full of hope to add to her sole school possession of one note book and one pen.
“Education is for every child. There are hundreds and thousands of children affected by the earthquake and tsunami here. It’s time for them to go back to school and get a sense of normalcy in their lives,” said Yusra Tebe, UNICEF Emergency Education Specialist. He added that with the onset of a monsoon, in some areas their hardships may be compounded by more landslides.



After school, Sophia and her older brother returned to her house stripped of its roof, wooden walls, doors. Only a cement foundation is now left behind, marking the four rooms of her house. She looks through the wreckage to try and find some of her belongings, including her school uniform, shoes or sandals without any luck. She manages to find a white frilly dress belonging to Tasha her friend and promises to tell her of the find.


With the Government of Indonesia leading the response, UNICEF was ready to support in the critical hours and days after an emergency in Central Sulawesi. A six-month plan has been completed. UNICEF now stands ready to support the Government, partners and the community, as the emergency response moves into early recovery.





Saturday, 13 October 2018

A child found, a family reunited


By Kinanti Pinta Karana, UNICEF Indonesia Communications Specialist




Iqbal As Sywie parked his motorbike at the Central Sulawesi Office of Social Affairs and half ran to the blue tent where the Child Protection Joint Secretariat located. “Is he here yet?” he asked Astrid Gonzaga Dionisio, a UNICEF Child Protection Specialist staff who shook her head and smiled, “He’ll be here, Pak, take a deep breath.”

Iqbal, 33, smiled and looked at his mother, Marta.  Iqbal is the father of Mufli, 10, and Fikri, 7. Both sons went missing after the earthquake and tsunami hit the cities of Palu and Donggala on 28 September 2018. “They are good children, they kiss my hand before going to school and mengaji (Quran reciting course, a common after-school activity for children of Islamic faith),” he said.

He reported the missing children to the Child Protection Joint Secretariat Post. The social workers filed the report and shared it with colleagues in other posts in Central Sulawesi. When disaster strikes, children are often separated from their parents or immediate families and in many cases, missing. In Central Sulawesi, as of October 11, the number of separated[1] and unaccompanied[2] children is estimated to be 300, while the number of registered missing children is 74.

The Social Ministry’s social workers (Satuan Bakti Pekerja Sosial or Sakti Peksos) in collaboration with UNICEF provided a host of support for children affected by the Central Sulawesi disaster. From psycho-social support to help children cope with the traumatic experience to family tracing and reunification (FTR) to reunify separated families. Twelve posts will be set up in disaster-hit areas to identify children who are separated or unaccompanied. Similar posts have been set up in Makassar to register separated/unaccompanied children moving out of Palu.

After days of tracing, social workers found a child matching the description of Fikri in Morowali Utara, a district located eight hours away from Palu. After a series of cross-checking and a thorough identification process, it was confirmed that Fikri had been found. Today, the elated family gathered at the Joint Secretariat tent for their reunification with Fikri.

Iqbal, his mother and some members of his extended family sat on the tarpaulined floor, when a small child entered carrying a bag of toys in his hand. It was Fikri. Iqbal broke in tears and hugged his lost son.



“Masya Allah (whatever Allah will), Fikri, you are alive,” he said between tears as he kissed his forehead.

Fikri was playing outside the house with his older brother, Mufli (10), when tsunami swept them away. He was stranded on a pedestrian walk and rescued by a local person who was being evacuated to Morowali Utara. The situation in Palu at that time was still very chaotic, the person decided to bring Fikri with him while trying to get medical help on the way. He filed a report at the social worker’s post in the district while caring for the child.  

“This is a miracle. It makes me and the social workers happy every time we are successful in reuniting a child with their families,” the Director of Child Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Social Affairs Nahar (it is common for Indonesians to have only one name) said.

Prior to the meeting, Iqbal and his family had had a chance to speak to Fikri over the phone. They were thankful to know he was well treated by the family and he had been going to Quran reciting course.

UNICEF Indonesia Child Protection Specialist Naning Puji Julianingsih said that family tracing and reunification is important because a child should be with their family. “The best environment for a child is with their own immediate or extended families. Institutional care or family-based adoption should be the last options,” Naning said.

UNICEF recently introduced digital-based innovation named Primero application. Data of separated children found will automatically be matched with missing children report. UNICEF currently works with Social Ministry to conduct a training for social workers whose main task is to trace and reunify separated children with their families.

“I can’t tell you how I feel right now, I want to meet with the person who rescued my son and thanked him in person,” Iqbal said. He still had not heard any news of Mufli but he remained hopeful. His mother, Marta, touched her son’s hand and said, “Wherever he is, I hope he (Mufli) is alive and with good people,” she said.





[1] Separated children are those separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary primary care-giver, but not necessarily from other relatives. These may therefore, include children accompanied by other adult family members. Source: Inter-Agency Guiding Principles on unaccompanied and separated children, 2004
[2] Unaccompanied children (also called unaccompanied minors) are children who have been separated from both  parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult, who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so. Source: Inter-Agency Guiding Principles on unaccompanied and separated children, 2004


Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Indonesia’s Famed Spice Islands Aim to Have ‘No Child Left Behind’ in MR Campaign

By Tomi Soetjipto

With a confidence of an army cadet, four-year old Jupe Rusmani stomped into a small-dilapidated room full of health workers armed with injection needles. Her poise surprised everyone, including Jupe’s Mother, Nor Rusmani, who stood outside smiling.
Armendo Fransesco received the Measles & Rubella vaccine
©Fauzan Yo/UNICEF Indonesia/2018

“What a brave little girl you are,” said one of the nurses before she injected life-saving Measles and Rubella (MR) vaccines on Jupe’s upper left arm.  Within seconds Jupe walked out the room and shook her head furiously when asked by her ‘aunties’ neighbours whether she felt pain from the injection. 

Buoyed by Jupe’s confidence, other kids followed her steps, including eight-year old Gloria Titahena who didn’t flinch her eyes when the injection needle rested on her bony upper arm. With a timid smile, Gloria then posed for a photograph while holding a sign in local language that says, “I’m brave, I just had a rubella vaccination ”. Another kid, five-year old Armendo Fransesco, a cheerful boy with shoulder-length curly hair, held up another sign that says, “Want to be healthy? Have a Rubella vaccination”
Mothers in Waimahu Passo, city of Ambon, took their children to receive Measles & Rubella vaccine
©Fauzan Yo/UNICEF Indonesia/2018 

It’s been an eventful day for the children of Waimahu Passo in  Ambon, capital of the Moluccas province.  On this recent September day, around 23 kids have been registered to receive MR vaccines, as part of a nationwide second phase campaign to immunize 31.9 million children. The first phase was done in the main island of Java in 2017, targeting around 35 million children. Lying at the eastern part of Indonesia, Ambon is part of the famed Moluccas islands, once a sought-after colonial destination due to their spices.

As of early September, around 50 per cent of children aged above nine months to below 15 years in Ambon city, or around 50 thousand have been vaccinated against MR. The port city is targeting around 114 thousand children whilst the provincial target stands at around 546 thousand.
Rosa Penturi is doing puppet shows and singing to relieve children's tension during the Measles & Rubella vaccine activity
©Fauzan Yo/UNICEF Indonesia/2018 

Waimahu Passo is not your usual neighborhood. The community of makeshift houses was built out of a dark chapter in Ambon’s history when it was engulfed in communal violence in 1999. All of the 300 residents living in this crammed zone lost their homes and belongings when mayhem gripped Ambon.

19 years on, the displaced community has made Waimaho Passo their home, with many finding jobs in the informal sector as vegetable sellers or motorcycle taxis.

Local NGO, Yayasan Pelangi Maluku, has been at the forefront of efforts to include marginalized children into the MR campaign.
 
“At first we informed community leaders about the government’s plan, then we visited the communities a couple of times, informing them about the danger of MR. So far it’s been a great,” said Rosa Penturi, Head of Yayasan Pelangi Maluku, her left hand is covered with a sock puppet.  Rosa has been giving puppet performances and sing-a-long sessions to ease children’s tension.