A Start to a Healthy Life

Wenti’s second baby is already growing faster
than her first did at the same age.

Wenti is exceptional in her village. She worked her way through school to achieve her dream of becoming a biology teacher, despite the odds stacked against her. “But even with my degree, I didn’t know how to feed my children properly,” she says. “None of the women here did.”

No matter how many baby books and manuals and classes you might have access to, you can never be fully prepared to raise a baby. In Indonesia, a nation of islands, mothers in rural regions are particularly isolated. Without knowledge of proper infant nutrition, a mother may believe that formula is better than breastfeeding, or unknowingly give her baby rice before he can digest it. What’s more, she has to make these choices on her own.

Even Wenti, a 29-year-old biology teacher in the remote district of Sikka, did not know how to properly feed her two babies. “You’d think because I’m a biology teacher I would know about infant nutrition. But that’s not true. I didn’t learn this anywhere. With my first baby I only knew about packaged food; I didn’t know that breastfeeding was better. And my first baby was malnourished.”

“Most of the group members have at most a primary school education. I’m one of only two women with a higher degree. But our knowledge of feeding our babies is no different.

“Even beyond learning about breastfeeding and proper nutrition, these Mother Support Groups are extremely powerful support systems when we come together. You see, many women are isolated and too busy to even look after themselves. So this group has not only taught me about nutrition to help my baby grow and develop a healthy brain, but I also now have a group of women that are my friends, and we support each other. We are all the same, and we learn from each other.

“The Mother Support Group has truly been a lifeline for us.”

Learn more about the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Project