Sometimes Conny would go days without eating—not because she didn’t have food, but because there simply wasn’t enough for her whole family. When it came to choosing who would eat that day, and it often did, Conny would always choose her husband and two daughters over herself.
Conny’s family lived on the small wage of her husband, who worked as a farmer in their small rural town of Sulawesi, Indonesia. While he was at work, earning approximately A$2.50 per day, she would do housework and look after their two daughters.
Their youngest, Yemima, had been born eight months earlier, weighing just 2.9kg. Though Conny had been able to breastfeed, Yemima often threw up the milk and was severely underdeveloped. At six months old, she weighed a mere five-and-a-half kilograms, which is two-and-a-half kilograms lighter than the recommended healthy weight for her age according to the World Health Organisation.
Yemima’s lack of appetite quickly deteriorated into a cough and fever. Though it meant another day without food for herself, Conny willingly spent the little money they had on seeking help for Yemima from a general practitioner, who prescribed vitamins and medicines. And initially they seemed to work—Yemima’s fever vanished and the vitamins gave her renewed energy and restored her healthy appetite. But when the vitamins ran out, Yemima once again began throwing up her food, and Conny had no money left to seek further help.
“Day by day Yemima was getting thinner. I didn’t know what to do to help her to have a normal weight,” said Conny.
Conny had no way of knowing that her sacrifice of skipping meals for her family meant her breast milk was lacking essential nutrients vital to her baby’s health. The less money their family had, the more Conny would sacrifice her health, and the worse Yemima’s sickness would become. The family were trapped in a cycle; one that was only broken through the intervention of Compassion operating through their local church.
Compassion came to Conny’s community when Yemima was 10 months old, and mother and daughter were immediately enrolled.
Through Compassion’s programs, Conny and Yemima are receiving regular health care and essential vitamins. Conny’s significantly improved health allows her to provide healthy breast milk for her daughter, who now weighs eight kilograms and has the energy to happily play with other babies in the program.
“Every week her weight shows positive outcome. She likes to eat, and the vitamins we gave her are helping her gain weight,” said Dorce, the Child Survival Program coordinator.