Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Brenda's Sumba IndonesiaTrip

Sumba Foundation Team -- Brenda With School Kids (Brenda Top Left)

Our daughter, Brenda Ostrander, has been working as a volunteer for the Sumba Foundation helping them with the computer work. The foundation was started by friends of hers after they visited the island a few years ago. They are surfers and apparently this island has the best waves in that area of the world. Sumba is an island in the Indonesia chain. His visit changed his life resulting in the beginnings of a charity work that is doing a lot of good for the people of this island.

Brenda was asked to go on one of the trips the founders take which happens three times a year. She went with the founder's wife and two others on this trip and wrote the story below concerning what she saw and did while there one week. Her total trip was two weeks long and involved three flights to get to this island. They have one flight into the island each week so she was able to spend seven days there.
Here is her story.
April 13 to April 26, 2008
Nothing in Orange County prepared me for what I saw in Sumba, Indonesia. I was transformed to another world, another time.

We arrived in Sumba on April 18. Heat and humidity met us as we sorted the medical and dental supplies and the toys for the different schools. The Sumba Foundation is involved with seven schools that are in the surrounding area of Nihiwatu in West Sumba.
There are three main focus areas for The Sumba Foundation. They are malaria control and health care (includes dental and eye), water (digging wells to provide clean water for the villages), and education.

Typical House With Crafts

Inside House

The Sumba Foundation supplies mosquito nets for the surrounding villages. I was able to go inside one of the typical village bamboo and thatch homes that had the mosquito nets. A little boy was taking a nap inside one at the time. We found that some nets need to be replaced as they have holes in them. We are told it is the night time mosquitoes that carry malaria. The people are especially vulnerable as they sleep.
The foundation has also built three clinics for treating the villagers. When the clinics are open, they have people waiting for help on the porch. We employ native nurses at the clinics, and have a malaria specialist that makes the rounds. Visiting dentists use the dental chair in the clinic when they arrive. Volunteers help fit glasses and test them by having the people thread a needle. An eye chart is on one wall. One microscope assists in the blood smears and determining what form of malaria a person has. A new program on malnourishment is starting. We weigh the babies and supply vitamins and supplements for them and their mothers.

Our focus for this trip was sealing the permanent molars of the children at the schools. These children are from First to Sixth Grade. We (four to six of us) were able to visit five of the seven schools. We saw over 1200 children and had enough sealant for 1000 of them. The children at two of the schools had at least seen toothbrushes and the first school did have the children brush their teeth when they arrived at school each morning.
Brenda Treating Teeth

Each of the children and teachers received a toothbrush with a hole drilled in the end of it and a paper clip through the hole. We had the children write their nama (name) with a Sharpie on the toothbrush handle. We had wood boards with nails hung on the wall of their classroom so the children would hang them up on the boards after they brushed each morning of school. They go to school from 8:00 to 12:00 Monday through Saturday. We didn't want them to take their toothbrushes home with them as we knew the entire village would end up using them for some purpose.

In one of the younger classes, we were demonstrating how to use a toothbrush by moving our hand outside of our mouth. With great big grins, the children held their toothbrushes outside of their mouths and moved them in small circles. They were not getting the concept of putting the bristles on their teeth! We had to open up some toothbrushes and put them in our mouths so they would know what to do!

It was certainly a learning experience to look inside their mouths and discern what teeth needed to be pulled NOW. Some of the teeth crumbled when we were putting on the sealant. They were just rims around a crater to the gum line. The teeth on either side were also decaying. Some had baby teeth that never fell out and have to be removed or teeth coming out of the roof of their mouth. We learned quickly that a cavity, in and of itself, wasn't warranting pulling a permanent tooth at this time. We made a list of the children whose teeth must be removed now for the dentist we hope is coming in May or June.
We learned that the number one reason for suicide in Indonesia is tooth pain. We are hoping our actions will save some of these children from this type of unrelenting pain.

The adults chew the beetle nut for pain; both hunger and physical. While this numbs their senses, it also destroys their teeth. The adults had black and red nubs for teeth.

After finishing the sealants, we handed out jump ropes, soccer balls, Frisbees, and bubbles. We taught them how to use these items and had great fun with them. We also taught them Quack, Quack, Woof (Duck, Duck, Goose). I had a Polaroid camera with me and that was a huge hit. The only problem was the pushing and shoving to get in the picture. These children do not have any photographs of themselves. Neither did the adults.

We got to visit one of the wells and found a leak that needed to be
fixed. We also learned of two other wells that have since gone dry. We walked half-way down to where a village now has to go to get water since their well has gone dry. This was quite a trek and we didn't even make it all the way.
The foundation often digs wells near schools so that the families will support their children going to school and returning home with the water for them.
The schools have been built by the government and improved by the foundation. The foundation has added windows, new roofs, concrete floors, murals, desks, chairs, and teaching aids. There is no electricity or bathrooms.

A new focus is to start libraries in each school. There are very few books supplied by the government and no reading books. We thought we would start with one of the schools centrally located. When we got there, we found that the government had added some new, complete, classrooms and the headmistress wants to make one of them into a library. God has gone before us! We now do not have to spend money putting in a floor and roof. We can concentrate on buying books.

In our last 30 minutes on Bali, we went to a teacher's supply store and bought paperback books for less than a dollar a book. We spent $160 and basically just ran out of time to try to grab, pay for and box any additional. The foundation will buy additional books when the founders return in June. We hope to put a few books in each of the schools and start from there. We are trying to find a supplier in Jakarta to buy the books at cost.

On Sunday, we also went to the local Christian church. The children came early and we gave them each a cross to weave colored strips of paper through. They seemed to love this project. Even some older adults enjoyed making a cross.

While we could not understand the words of the sermon or songs, I did recognize the tune of two of them and was able to sing along in English. They sang the hymns, "This is My Story, This is My Song", and "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus". The sermon was taken from John 4 and Romans 8. The men sat with their swords attached to their waist in one corner. The women and babies sat in front of the men and on the other side of the church. No one sat in the first row (just like home!). Dogs wandered in and out.

A little boy of 16 months was a big distraction going up and down the stairs, playing with a water bottle (ours), and pulling on the pastor's skirt. His parents are elders in the church and need a little parenting lesson. We learned four days later that this boy was in the hospital for malaria. His village has mosquito nets so the nurse will be following up with his family and try to determine where he was when bitten.

My pictures do not do justice to this area or its people. For every picture I took, there were at least 10 more of something I had never seen before or something so foreign to our culture. The stories can go on and on. I have already signed up my family to go on the trip in July, 2009. It is something I want to share with them.

Terima kasih

(Thank you)

Brenda Ostrander

The Sumba Foundation
26271 Glen Canyon
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
(949) 643-7873

This is a charity and they would be very glad to accept any gift that you might want to give to their work. You can check the above web sites for information. If you send something, please mention Brenda's trip.

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