The sun was shining brightly in the morning when I started my journey to the house of a Posyandu cadre, Mama Maria Yustina Geli. She is a cadre of Posyandu Kasanga Lara Baru, Wee Pangali Village, Tambolaka City District, Southwest Sumba Regency, and has served as a cadre since 2010. In 2021, Mama Maria has been entrusted to serve as Head of Posyandu Cadres. Her involvement in the PAUD HI Revitalization Program began when she was first invited to take part in a 3-day training to strengthen the capacity of Posyandu cadres and PAUD educators in the Hall of the Tambolaka City District Head Office. The training made Mama Maria curious to find out more about the integration of the four components of early childhood services in the HI ECD Revitalization Program. According to her, while she was serving as a Posyandu cadre, there was minimal support from the government and the village community for HI ECD services through village planning. This situation of course forced them to carry out early childhood services with whatever resources they had.
In the past, Posyandu Kasanga Lara Baru where Mama Maria worked had not provided optimal service due to limited equipment, funds, and knowledge related to child development for its cadres. Posyandu cadres still used simple measuring instruments, one of which was a weighing scale, normally used to weigh cashew crops, to weigh children. This resulted in inaccurate data, not in accordance with the children’s condition, and of course had an impact on the results of the analysis of children’s nutritional status conducted by Posyandu and Puskesmas. On the other hand, Posyandu cadres had so far experienced limited funds and had not received assistance in procuring the necessary medical equipment. At that time, Posyandu cadres did not understand that actually their needs for Posyandu operations, including the procurement of measuring instruments, could be proposed through the village budget allocation and planning process. They still used the equipment they had, even though it was no longer accurate and could not be used optimally.
“I had a meeting at the Official Residence of the Deputy Regent. I was surprised that Wepangali Village was the biggest contributor to stunting for the Tambolaka City district. I could not accept the fact. Because I really saw the children, I weighed them, these children had good measurements, but they were said to be the biggest contributors to stunting for the City District (Tambolaka). Thus, I investigated, and found that the medical device was problematic, it was not adequate. Indeed, it was because the children were measured using cashew weighing equipment,” she added.
Various training and socialization activities held in the HI PAUD Revitalization Program provided various information and knowledge for Mama Maria. The knowledge she gained was not only related to early childhood development, but also about bureaucracy and government policies in the delivery of health and child development support services at the village level. Mama Maria just found out that the village has allocations for the health sector and opportunities to procure medical equipment from village funds can be obtained to procure facilities for the Posyandu. This is what motivated Mama Maria and her colleagues to propose these needs through the village planning process.
Suggestions from Mama Maria and other Posyandu cadres were finally accommodated. Currently Posyandu Kasanga Lara Baru already has adequate medical equipment. After replacing the cashew scale with a digital scale, children’s conditions can be monitored more accurately. A wrong measuring equipment can result in wrong judgement. The use of an accurate digital scale is of course very helpful for Mama Maria and other Posyandu cadres in carrying out early detection, intervention and appropriate stimulation according to the needs of the children so that they recover quickly and become healthy.
“I was indeed included in the Team 11 of Wee Pangali Village Medium Term Development Planning. There, I gave them all my suggestions. I’m not making it up, in fact that’s the rule of the game. And thank God, recently we were immediately given a digital scale in the first term of village funds. I am no longer worried when weighing the children at the Posyandu and can detect quickly if there is a child whose weight is not ideal or not according to their age standard,” said Mama Maria.
Not only in terms of village fund allocation, the collaboration and integration between Posyandu and PAUD institutions is currently improving the provision of health services for children aged 0-6 years. Through the knowledge possessed by Posyandu cadres and assisted by health workers and nutritionists from the Puskesmas, Posyandu cadres can help PAUD teachers provide additional feeding services according to proper health standards. This is easier for them to do because early childhood services have been combined under one roof, namely implemented in PAUD. Previously these services were implemented separately at each location.
Mama Maria believes that early childhood health services in Wee Pangali Village are getting better. Collaboration across sectors, especially between health workers from the Puskesmas, PAUD teachers and Posyandu cadres, is one of the keys to this success. This encourages the fulfillment of children’s needs for education, health, nutrition and care, protection, and care services. At the end of our chat, Mama Maria expressed her hope that she would continue to be involved in programs related to health and education. She also expressed her gratitude to all parties who have supported Posyandu and PAUD in her village so that they can build better cooperation to serve early childhood. For two years, Mama Maria has been one of the assisted partners of the HI PAUD Revitalization Program in Southwest Sumba, supported by the William & Lily Foundation (WLF) and ADARO Foundation, and implemented by Sumba Integrated Development (SID).
The William & Lily Foundation (WLF) collaborates with the ADARO Foundation in supporting the Holistic Integrative Early Childhood Development (PAUD HI) Revitalization Program in Southwest Sumba, which aims to improve access for children aged 0-6 years to quality and sustainable Holistic Integrative Early Childhood Development services. This program encourages the improvement of early childhood development services, which have so far been separate and ineffective, into a more comprehensive and integrated service. This is done through capacity building for PAUD tutors, Posyandu cadres, BKB cadres, and village midwives. The assisted PAUDs are also expected to be able to apply the PAUD HI model by integrating education, health, and family guidance services.
Authored by: Victor Maru (SID)
Edited by: Mariska Estelita (WLF)