Future Calling

Improving nutrition from the very start is a proven way to break the cycle of poverty and poor health that can hold families and communities in its grip for generations. With better health, children can thrive in school, and in life. And when they do, a world of possibility emerges. Karin and Rambu’s story showcases how small changes can make a huge impact on one child, one family, and one community at a time.

By Eryn Blazey

Karin sat on a tricycle and played with an old cell phone. She pretended to take selfies before politely excusing herself to make a pretend phone call in the other room.

At a health center on the island of Sumba in Indonesia, children lined up with their parents to receive a dose of vitamin A. Though usually a bold and spirited three-and-a-half-year-old, Karin was visibly nervous and began to cry as her turn approached. Her mother, Rambu, stayed calm and changed tactics, walking around the room with Karin and watching as other children received their doses. The distribution was nearly complete, but Karin was still too scared.

In the final minutes, as the health providers were preparing to pack up to leave, Karin bravely sat down with her mom to receive her dose of vitamin A. As the health workers and other mothers clapped and cheered, Rambu wiped the imaginary sweat off her brow.

"I love watching my daughter grow healthier, more beautiful, and smarter each day.” – Rambu

As a mom, Rambu does everything in her power to keep her daughter healthy. "I love my mama," declared Karin. "She cooks the most delicious food in the world!" The family typically eats rice, vegetables, fish, tofu, tempeh, and sometimes meat. However, availability and affordability vary considerably based on the season and weather patterns.

To support her education, "I will bring home picture books," Rambu noted.  "Karin will memorize the stories and repeat them back to me." A mountain of books stacked on a shelf in the corner only reinforced the mother-daughter duo's shared love of learning.

Inside their home, photos of Karin hang on the wall and a stuffed monkey keeps watch over her toys and books.

As a local school teacher, Rambu knows that nutrition directly impacts children's performance in school. When she began teaching in Dasa Elu four years ago, students regularly missed school because they were sick. Instead of teaching her class new subjects, she regularly repeated the curriculum to ensure all of her students were up to speed.

Lately, Rambu has noticed a change in the trend. Since the local health clinics began providing vitamins and other services to children in the community, her students have missed less school. With improved attendance, Rambu can experience one of her greatest joys -- standing in front of a class and helping the children in her community learn.