my first health seminar…

Two Saturdays ago I was able to plan and facilitate my first community health seminar!

For the past six or seven months I have really been feeling that health education area of health that Partners for Compassion should focus on, as Jakarta’s health services have been getting better. Plus health education is very relational and long-term, which suits our model of operation really well.

A couple months ago I met with our community partners in North Jakarta and asked them if they would want us to offer health seminars and they said they would love it! I was able to find an awesome doctor from my church who volunteered her time to teach a class on first aid in the community. We spent time planning and preparing  and coordinating with the various parties involved and set the date for Saturday, November 21.

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While preparing the logistics for the event, I learned an interesting cultural fact. Apparently when women attend this kind of event it’s expected that they get “simbako” which is a package of rice, oil, sugar, and instant noodles that they can take home with them to their families. Though the concept was a little weird to meet at first, I jumped on board and went to the store to buy all the stuff. While I was loading up my card with 35 packages of 1KG of sugar one of the ladies passing me asked if I was opening a little store. I laughed and told her no, that I was making simbako packages for one of our communities. It kind of felt like I was opening a store, though, as I had never in my life bought so much food at one time before.

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At home my roommate, Korry and I put on a Christmas movie and packed everything up into 35 simbako bags.

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On the day of the seminar I was so nervous. What if something went wrong? What if the doctor had a terrible time and never wanted to help again? What if the moms hated it and our relationship doing health education was closed forever? What if our partner thought it was a disaster? Though the thoughts were all slightly irrational, I was a bit apprehensive. But the event could not have possibly gone any better.

I was able to open the seminar with my first speech fully given in Indonesian! Though it was just a simple greeting and thank you to the various people who helped, it still felt like such an accomplishment to get to say it all in Indonesian without a translator.

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Doctor Elva did a fantastic job teaching. She was funny and interactive and all the moms were on the edges of their seats listening to what she was saying and fully participating in her interactive portions. At one point one of the moms had to get up and blocked the projected and she was immediately told to sit down by the other ladies because they all couldn’t see around her. Even after the seminar they spent about 15 extra minutes asking various follow up questions.

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I could not have asked for it to go any better. I am so excited about continuing to expand our health education program!

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