Stories of Change

Ms. Selan in front of her school.

CWS efforts in Indonesia positively impacted more than 17,000 people in 16 communities this year.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Addressing early marriage and pregnancy in West Timor

Nuryadin Selan is the headmaster of the junior high school in Oebaki village in remote West Timor, where teenage pregnancies and early marriage are a serious concern. “At one point, I had only 30 girl students in my three classes because so many had dropped out,” noted Ms. Selan during a recent workshop about adolescent sexual and reproductive health education and training session for peer educators.

In response to a long-recognized issue of too-early marriage and pregnancy in West Timor, CWS is partnering with the Disciples of Christ through their Week of Compassion initiative to pioneer Berdaya (Empowerment) as a key element of Timor Zero Hunger initiative.

While the idea of a sexual and reproductive health initiative might seem like an obvious part of addressing issues of hunger, it actually is. For too-young mothers in food-insecure communities like Oebaki – where many people are malnourished – the risk of perpetuating the cycle of malnourishment and hunger is high. This is especially true for babies who are in their first thousand days of life.

So, Ms. Selan said, “I really support the CWS project for sexual and reproductive health for youth. It’s important for them to know so many things about these topics. I’m concerned that too many girls marry young and don’t continue their studies,” and so the lack of information and knowledge about the dangers of early pregnancy persist. “It’s important to involve schools and teachers like me; and you also need to involve the parents and religious and community leaders,” she added, so girls – and boys – get the same message from many angles.

At the end of the workshop everyone affirmed that the Berdaya project is important for their village, especially their girls, and promised to work together to ensure its success.