Kadengar Village slowing rising from the ashes
Jun 02, 2010
Last year Kadengar village - one of the most majestic ancestral villages in West Sumba - went up in flames. No-one knows just what happened but sometime around 11pm one evening, when all the habitants were fast asleep, a fire broke out somewhere in the village.
Every one of the 52 houses in the village burned to the ground. The only remnants were cement piers which supported the bamboo stilts which the houses stood on. A few broken clay pots and numerous ancestral tomb stones were scattered around the hillside.
The Sumba Foundation staff heard about the fire the next day and immediately a team went to the village to see what was happening.
“Everyone was huddled around a big tree,” said Kaale Sea, Outreach Co-ordinator with The Sumba Foundation.
“They had two sacks of rice and nothing else - everyone in the village had lost everything they owned.
“We were able to help with emergency food relief and water including the installation of a 5,000 litre water tank which is filled every day. This way the villagers could focus on getting their livelihoods back without worrying about the burden of hauling water. We also distributed food supplies including eggs and noodles to many families during the days after the fire.”
Once it was evident of who was staying in the village, a head count was carried out and mosquito nets distributed to those who stayed so they could begin re-building their homes.
One of the most immediate needs however - besides food and water - was school uniforms for the children.
“The children couldn’t continue attending school without their uniforms,” said Kaale. “But thanks to the wonderful donations from Nihiwatu guests during that time, we were able to purchase 92 primary and 37 junior high school uniforms. This was an important way to help the children continue their lives after such a horrible shock.”
Malnutrition in Kadengar Village
However, one of the real concerns about the village started to became apparent as the days went by. Many of the children were already under the recommended weight for their age and could not continue to miss meals.
Thanks to the help of supporters who attended the 2009 annual fundraiser in California, The Sumba Foundation provided care for 71 children from this village who were weak from malnutrition. The primary agenda was to feed them a nutritious meal daily and give them a supply of eggs and milk to take home weekly.
“We’ve also treated worms, skin and wound infections and eye diseases, all of which are very common in most of the villages on Sumba, even more so in the ones like Kadengar who do not have access to a good water supply,” said Kaale.
Now there are only seven children from Kadengar Village left in the malnutrition program. Rainy, head of the program and her assistant Cypri, continue to deliver porridge made out of a locally available green bean with a nutritional value similar to a lentil. All of the other children have been brought back up to the weight recommendation for their age and the mothers of Kadengar village are now better educated on the importance of a nutritious diet.
Kadengar Village is also slowly recovering. Most likely it will never become the majestic ancestral village it was. At the moment 11 houses have been built and they are each hosting two to three families each. Others have left and yet others are camping out. They have returned to their life of farming. Luckily they live nearby a river so their main crop, rice can be grown more than once a year.
Extending the malnutrition program
Rainy and Cypri are now providing bean porridge milk and eggs to 47 malnourished children and babies from other areas - but their work is seemingly endless.
The numbers of cases of malnourishment keep increasing as more and more people find out about the Sumba Foundation’s malnutrition program and come to us for help.
Rainy is finding villages that are two and and half hours drive from our center at Nihiwatu where most of the children are suffering from severe malnutrition. She says they are in terrible condition and when asked why she explains simply - “They do not have any water .”
“They are always indebted and never have enough to feed their families. Their income comes from crops of cashew nuts but often the people sell their crops before the harvest. If they see lots of flowers on the trees and it looks like there will be a good crop they trade it for a buffalo needed immediately for one of the many traditional ceremonies common here.”
Another reason for such a high number of children suffering from malnourishment is that the population we are working with do not realize that their children are suffering from lack of protein and essential vitamins for healthy growth.