Stuck in Singapore, I can’t wait to get back out to Flores.
In 2019, I lived on Komodo Island for 12-days. Bidan Fifi’s homestay is awesome -- extremely clean, and her parents are exceptionally kind hosts.
I also developed a newfound respect for people living on the island. It isn’t easy.
I taught most days at the school. There was no electricity in the classrooms. No running water. No toilets. The encroaching humidity as the day progresses is like being water-boarded (yes, I do know what that’s like, my son and I tried it out repeatedly one afternoon).
I developed a multitude of disgusting skin issues. I had anklets and bracelets of mosquito bites. Heat rash. My stomach predictably collapsed from about day four.
You might be thinking that that’s because I was a foreigner pampered by a five-star lifestyle. That’s only partly true. People native to the island get sick. Diarrhoea and respiratory problems are legion among the kids.
That’s why the work of the 1000-days Fund is so important. And, there’s been real progress. Most at risk families now have a Smart Chart stuck to the wall in the main room of the family home. From close to zero, half of the mothers now understand the threat of stunting. Awareness of the importance of breastfeeding has almost doubled. The village health budgets are swelling as village leaders and families come together to fight the threat of stunting.
I can’t wait to go back to see how the 1000-days Fund and the people of Komodo have built on that progress. [S Flint]