In Kampung Per, Geni Eats His Rice Heartily

In Kampung Per, Geni Eats His Rice Heartily

ACTNews, ASMAT – If we walk quickly, our footsteps will sound very loud here in Kampung Per. The feet of small Asmat children rattle every time they hit the wooden platform. The roads in this village are made of wooden platforms that were constructed decades ago. These platforms were erected on the swampy, muddy soil: typical topography of Asmat.

Walking along the small aisles in the village, some wooden boards were seen rickety, cracked, broken, perforated, even missing. These wooden boards make loud, thudding sound every time the local children run and step on them.

Even though Kampung Per is still a part of Agats District, the capital of Asmat Regency. It is located quite far away, around two hour journey on a fully loaded longboat. If the weather condition is bad, or if the water recedes, it is impossible to get to Kampung Per.

We, ACTNews team, visited Kampung Per on Sunday (11/2). When we were walking along the wooden path and greeting local children, we saw a boy sitting in front of his house, eating heartily. On his green plate, there was only plain rice, without side dishes nor seasonings.

“His name is Geni Siso. He’s four year old. Every time we have rice, he always wants to eat plain rice, without any side dish. Geni loves rice very much,” said Laurensius, Geni’s uncle with whom we talk in front of their house.

He explained that the rice eaten by his nephew was the rice that had just been distributed by the village chief in Rumah Bujang (traditional meeting hall).

“Just few hours ago, there were 20 sacks of food donation from Agats evenly distributed in Rumah Bujang. Geni’s mother immediately cooked the rice for Geni to eat,” said the uncle.

Our guess was right. The rice that Geni was eating was the rice from the Humanitarian Ship for Papua that had just been distributed in Kampung Per.

“From Agats, before ACT team came to pay a visit, a longboat had come to bring 20 sacks of rice, approximately 500 kilograms, to Kampung Per. The rice was then distributed immediately in Rumah Bujang, an Asmat traditional meeting house,” said Diding Fachruddin, ACT’s team coordinator for the distribution of the food aid of Humanitarian Ship for Papua.

Malnutrition and Malaria haunt the children of Kampung Per

Geni really enjoyed every morsel of rice that he ate. He ate the warm rice heartily, without caring about his nakedness. According to his uncle, Geni doesn’t like to wear clothes. He likes to swim in muddy rivers. Geni’s mother goes to the river to fish every afternoon, and his father passed away when he was an infant.

“Just a week ago, I rushed to the health clinic carrying Geni. He was having a high fever. According to the nurse there, he suffered from Malaria,” explained Laurensius.

Since late January, the health crisis of Malaria and Malnutrition outbreak has been spreading in Kampung Per. The numbers of children suffering from Malaria rose drastically. Tens of children are infected by malaria in the last two weeks.

“In the last two weeks, we don’t have enough sleep. Every night, at 1 AM, 4 AM, or any other time, there are villagers who come to bring their children to the clinic. They all suffer from malaria,” said Hendrikus Hermin, a nurse in the supporting medical clinic in Kampung Per, Agats district.

Hermin recorded that, since January 27th, no less than 36 children in Kampung Per have been suffering from Malaria.

“Even one of our fellow nurse is also suffering from malaria. Moreover, two children are suffering from malnutrition, and many of them suffer from nutrient deficiency,” said Hermin.

In recent weeks, malaria has been terrorizing Kampung Per. Geni is among the children infected by Malaria. “However, Geni is slowly recovering. He was temporarily transferred to Agats Regional General Hospital. After a few days of intensive care, Geni was allowed to go home,” said Hermin.

In the end of that afternoon, we, ACTNews team, sat on the wooden veranda, accompanying Geni who was finishing his plate of rice. The little boy from Kampung Per still hid his smile. However, since recovering from malaria, Geni is getting much better. The nutrient from the rice, although not quite complete, is helping him to recover.

“Alhamdulillah, every grain of rice that we have distributed in every village in Asmat can be very helpful during the recovery phase. The nutrition improvement process will be done gradually. Insha Allah, along with the rice distribution, there will also be biscuits and mineral water distribution to other villages in Asmat hinterland,” explained Syuhelmaidi Syukur, Senior Vice President of Aksi Cepat Tanggap. []    

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