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Chopping and Mixing Ingredients for Health: Indonesia

By Kirsten Hongisto, communications manager-Asia for Christian Children's Fund

On a late October afternoon in Keuneu’eu, Indonesia, six women gathered to make chicken soup. They met in the home of the leader of the Child Well Being Committee’s house. The house was damaged in the tsunami, but a few of its roughly hewn walls still stood. This was, despite the ravaged condition of the house and the surrounding area, an occasion for celebration ... a milestone in Indonesia's reconstruction.

Each week, mothers and caregivers who participate in the Child Centered Spaces receive cooking sessions based on newly developed recipes. ChildFund Indonesia supplies the ingredients and the women prepare meals together for the children. The fortified meals are intended to boost children's nutrition.

“We’re happy to try the new recipe,” said Julie Hafni, a Child Centered Space instructor. “It’s the best thing for their health.”

 

 Image of parents rying new recipes to improve their children's nutrition
Parents gather to learn new recipe ideas and exchange words of wisdom about children's nutrition.

 

ChildFund Indonesia, the operating name of Christian Children's Fund in this area of Indonesia, responded to and monitored child malnutrition.

Three times weekly, 6,626 children who attended ChildFund Indonesia's approximately 65 Child Centered Spaces throughout Banda Aceh, Aceh Besar and Biruen received clean water, milk, biscuits, fresh fruits and “plumpy nuts,” an enriched food supplement.

Nearly a year after ChildFund first responded to the crisis, the snack program has now been replaced with a second initiative to focus on the development of healthy habits in the home.

The long-term goal is to give parents the skills and information necessary to improve a child’s continued and lifelong nutrition.

 

 Image of traditional ingredients of the Indonesian diet
Traditional ingredients, including cooking oil, onions and tomatoes are a mainstay of the Indonesian diet.

 

Activities like this one, supported by the Canadian International Development Agency, remain critically important throughout Indonesia.

The World Food Programme continues to feed approximately 500,000 tsunami-affected people and the Indonesian government has requested food aid to last at least through 2006.

Developing Healthy Recipes

ChildFund worked with a nutritionist to develop a culturally appropriate cookbook. Recipes include locally available, nutrient-rich ingredients. In addition, the nutritionist reshaped local recipes and added ingredients beneficial for child development.

The nutritionist also looked at traditional cooking methods to find ways to improve the children’s health, such as serving the meals with orange juice or milk and bread to round out diets.

ChildFund then pilot tested the recipes at Children Centered Spaces in Banda Aceh and other tsunami- affected areas, with help from 20 mothers and volunteers in the kitchen.The cookbooks are currently being distributed to 5500 families in the areas where ChildFund works.