Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Women versus malaria

This is Restina and her three kids, who live in Katiet. Restina is one of those people who radiate competence. She walks into a room and you think - aha, SHE knows what's going down.

Restina grows durians (yum!), coconuts and bananas, and she's a volunteer for Surf Aid.

One of the organization's strategies is to go around to women in each village and ask: who do you go to for advice? Who knows the most about how to clean a cut, or keep bugs out of the house, or grow tomatoes? Then they train these key women on the causes of malaria and how to prevent it, and they send them out to spread the word. In general, women have good networks, they're eager to learn, they're not hung up on showing they're the smartest or most powerful person in the room, and they have great authority over household matters. Kind of a cool system, I think.

I recruited Restina's oldest boy to help me with a highly sensitive poultry-recording project. I was trying to get tape of chickens scratching around and clucking, but every time I got close enough they would run away. So I asked him to drive the chickens toward me, with the predictable result that the boy made far more noise than the birds. We all had a good time, at least - with the possible exception of the chickens, but chickens always look kind of annoyed to me anyway.


michele said...

a great photo; the mother exudes a quiet confidence that you describe so well.

by the way, what's the little girl holding? looks like the internationally loved sibling poking stick.

Robyn said...

I stumbled across yr blog on a google search. I love the great stories and slices-of-life (for you and the locals) in Indonesia. We just had our first taste of Indonesia (beyond Bali) a few wks ago, and liked it so much we'll be heading back next month.
Curious as to whether folks on Java are as welcoming and friendly as Sumatrans are.
At any rate, pls. do keep up the exellent blogging!

kopisusu2 said...

I've heard that the Javanese are more private and standoffish, and Jakartans in particular, but that has not been my experience at all - I've found people extremely friendly. They seem genuinely interested in who you are, why you're here, and how you like Indonesia (also whether you're married and why you don't have kids yet). Where on Java are you going? And thanks for the kind words!

As for the stick, it was not only a sibling-teaser but an excellent coconut-tree-swatter and general implement of destruction. I wish her adorable hat showed up in the photo better - it was green with a pink flower. They were all dressed up to go see "Dr. Dave" because the little girl has asthma. Apparently it's not very severe asthma, thank goodness.

Robyn said...

Whether you're married and why you don't have kids yet. :-) We get that all the time. It's an Asian thing. Java will be later in the year ... we are working on a food markets project so where on Java will be pretty much determined by that (still researching). Next month is back to Sumatra, which, to my experience, is populated by perhaps Asia's friendliest people.

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