Posted By: Jon Brack on December 22, 2014

Labels: Indonesia , Women’s and Children’s Health, Alumni, Volunteers

The Project HOPE delegation was greeted graciously at the mayor of Serang's home

Jon Brack, a volunteer photojournalist from Washington D.C., spent two weeks traveling with our Board of Directors delegation to the Philippines and Indonesia starting in late October 2014.  Project HOPE established a country office in Indonesia in 2005 coinciding with our disaster response efforts following the Indian Ocean tsunami and continues to operate health programs in the country today.

A visit to the city of Serang, which is west of Jakarta, marked the last stop of the Project HOPE Board of Director's delegation trip to Indonesia. HOPE has four locations in the region where they're implementing a Saving Lives at Birth project. Before any site visits were made, though, we were treated to a formal dinner at the mayor of Serang's palatial residence. The evening featured a dance performance, the presentation of gifts and lots of delicious local foods. The mayor was very appreciative of HOPE's efforts in the region and invited everyone important in town to be part of the evening's festivities.

Visiting the Saving Lives at Birth program at the Puskesmes Tunjung Teja Heath Center near Serang Indonesia

Saving Lives at Birth is designed to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity by strengthening local health provider capacity and skills. The four sites around Serang were chosen because of their high infant and maternal mortality rates. In these areas, HOPE has carried out trainings and workshops for midwives and health center staff on Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC). Three of the health centers are now accredited by the Indonesian Ministry of Health as BEmONC facilities and can now handle emergencies of that kind in-house without needing to refer them to a hospital. Health care providers with this training have already attended more than 1,000 births at these health centers.

The program has also trained midwives in antenatal care, normal delivery services and postnatal care, services that have already benefitted more than 3,500 women. In addition, more than 500 community health volunteers have been trained in the basics of Saving Lives at Birth. These are huge successes in those four communities for a program only one and a half years old, and, because of that reputation, other health care facilities around Serang are eager to join the program.

Midwives trained through Project HOPE's Saving Lives at Birth program near Serang, Indonesia

The HOPE delegation visited the Puskesmes Tunjung Teja Heath Center in a rural area about an hour outside of Serang. Our bus was greeted by midwives and community health volunteers singing a song of welcome before we were ushered inside to see their newly completed facility. Their thanks to Project HOPE brought tears to the health center director's eyes because of their ability to now better care for all members of their local community. We then walked a few doors down to their birthing center, which has lots of new equipment recently donated by HOPE already going to good use. Posters on the walls presented good techniques to avoid common problems and promote good habits, while midwives eagerly answered questions about all the knowledge they had gained through their Saving Lives at Birth training.

Dr. Joyce Johnson, leader of the delegation, gets her blood pressure checked at a rural health clinic trained by Project HOPE near Serang, Indonesia

We then drove several minutes down the road to a rural health clinic bursting at the seams with happy community members and health service volunteers. They shared examples of their childhood training classes and health monitoring programs. Dr. Joyce even had her blood pressure checked to the delight of dozens of onlookers. Pregnant women and recent new mothers shared stories about the better care they have received thanks to Project HOPE's programs. It was a very happy place.

Our return to Jakarta marked the end of this year's Board of Director's delegation trip to the Philippines and Indonesia.  It was an invigorating opportunity to see some of the great projects that Project HOPE has happening in this part of the world.

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