Charlie Auterac – Jakarta and Bojonggede 2019

Arriving in Jakarta was a surreal experience. Having never set foot on the island of Java before I wasn’t too sure what to expect when visiting one of the world’s busiest cities, and busy it was. After an hour on manic roads, I eventually made it to a lovely home in the South of Jakarta. Ibu Hanum, my adoptive mother from FMCH Indonesia, asked me to spend a few days at home and acclimatize to the city. My first few days were, therefore, spent wandering around the city, sweating profusely, and trying all the foods Jakarta had to offer.

I arrived at what seemed like a quiet residential home, however, I was soon to find out that this was not the case. I opened the brightly coloured gates and was greeted by a group of mothers working away on what I was to discover was a class aimed at improving the employability of mothers, in order to provide extra income for their family. The mothers were slightly taken back by a “bule” walking in and introducing himself as a volunteer with a crisp English accent, however, after a few hand gestures they pointed me towards the office of Ibu Hanum. She introduced me to the team of nutritionists and health workers I would be volunteering with over the coming weeks, and after a few welcoming snacks, I was briefed on what I would be doing whilst volunteering with FMCH Indonesia.

The next day I gave a talk to the mothers about my life and diet back home. What I thought would be a straight forward 10-minute presentation turned out to be 1h30 of comical entertainment, with the mothers finding the life of an English man extremely entertaining.

Whilst getting settled into life at FMCH, I was lucky enough to visit the nearby region of Bojonggede, West Java to watch the team conduct a nutrition health class. It was extremely interesting watching the team teach the mothers about basic nutrition. The class was interactive and got the mothers competing against each other in a game of stick the food on the food pyramid, which was constructed by the mothers at FMCH during an employability class on sewing. The class was followed up with weight, height and BMI calculations, allowing the mothers to assess their health and learn the skills required to take measurements for their children.

After my visit to Bojonggede, I was lucky enough to join in with a healthy cooking class organized by the nutrition team. The mothers and children were taught how to cook affordable and tasty home-cooked meals. The children made a homemade pizza topped with beef, a useful protein source for developing children. The mothers made Tempe brownies, which was high in protein and a healthier alternative to the growing consumption of easily accessible processed snacks on offer in Jakarta. I was lucky enough to try both foods and, like all Indonesian food, it tasted amazing!

There have been many enjoyable experiences during my time at FMCH Indonesia. I simply cannot fit them into this short description of my stay. I truly feel privileged to have got to know so many welcoming and kind-hearted people who taught me so much about the culture of Indonesia. I will leave here more knowledgeable in the field of nutrition, which I simply could not have experienced in the UK, as well as several Kg heavier. I am looking forward to seeing how my career in nutrition will develop following this experience. Thank you FMCH Indonesia!