Wa’ Agu, the Woman Behind the Change in Botto Mallangga Village

Stories from the Field by Sadaruddin*

Botto Mallangga is a village located in Maiwa District, Enrekang Regency, South Sulawesi Province. Boto Mallangga Village has an area of around 23.75 km2. This village is inhabited by around four hundred heads of households spread across six hamlets, namely Mallangga Hamlet, Cakke Hamlet, Kadeppe Hamlet, Salusawah Hamlet, Sarassang Hamlet, and Jati Hamlet.

Botto Mallangga Village has one posyandu in Kaddepe Hamlet. Health service activities at the posyandu are not carried out in a special building, but in the private house of the hamlet head. This service is also provided only at certain times. Even so, the village residents can still receive regular health services. This is because by coincidence the Maiwa District Health Center building is located in that village, precisely in Cakke Hamlet.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of rubbish scattered around the Maiwa Community Health Center. Patients and residents who come often smell unpleasant odors. These health centers often lack clean water supplies. As a result, a strong odor is often wafted from the health center toilets.

This condition is now slowly changing. Everything thanks to Agustina. The middle-aged woman who is often called Wa’ Agu is an ordinary housewife. Wa’ Agu does not have a higher educational background. He only graduated from elementary school (SD). Even now, he is not fluent in writing.

This situation did not prevent Wa’ Agu’s enthusiasm for bringing change to his village. Facilitated by PATTIRO, Wa’ Agu together with other Botto Mallangga Village Community Activists (PW) carried out several social actions.

The first social action was to clean the Maiwa Health Center environment. Wa’ Agu and the PWs actively invited residents in six hamlets in Botto Manggala Village to get involved in community service activities to clean the community health center environment. In fact, Wa’ Agu made several announcements using the mosque’s loudspeaker.

Due to Wa’ Agu’s hard work, on November 27 2015, more than 50 residents from six hamlets raided the Maiwa Health Center. Some brought brooms, mops, broom sticks, and so on.

The cleaning action shocked the community health center officials. How could it not be, Wa’ Agu and the residents took this voluntary action without any prior notification. However, in the end, the health workers at the community health center were also involved in the clean-up action.

After the action, the Head of the Maiwa Community Health Center also appealed to his staff to always look after the environment around the community health center and no longer throw rubbish anywhere. He also said that he would try to meet the community health center’s water needs.

The second social action that Wa’ Agu helped realize was the cleaning of a warehouse belonging to the Family Welfare Development Organization (PKK) in Saluwasah Hamlet to be used as a posyandu. Wa’ Agu took the initiative to do this because according to him if he waited for the village government to take action it would take a long time.

Wa’ Agu said that the residents had actually asked the village government to provide a special building for the village posyandu. However, Village Secretary Botto Mallangga said he had not been able to realize this proposal. The reason is that the government has not found the right location and there are no people who are willing to donate their land for the construction of a posyandu building.

Not wanting to delay, Wa’ Agu immediately took action. He invited the village residents to do community service to clean up PKK warehouses that were no longer in use. Not long after it was cleaned, precisely on January 18 2016, the warehouse was immediately used for activities providing health services by the posyandu.

Thanks to Wa’ Agu’s initiative, posyandu activities are no longer carried out in the private house of the Head of Kadeppe Hamlet. Now, Botto Mallangga Village has a special building for posyandu providing health services in Salusawah Hamlet.

Apart from problems with health facilities, it turns out that Botto Mallangga Village also often lacks blood supply. In fact, quite a few village residents experience bleeding during pregnancy and childbirth. One of the residents who experienced this was Irma. Even though she was referred to the General Hospital in Parepare Regency when she gave birth, Irma still had difficulty getting a blood donor. He even had to dig deep into his pockets to get blood that matched his own. The incident that happened to Irma was also experienced by the wife of one of the PWs in Botto Mallangga Amir Village. At that time, Amir’s wife experienced a miscarriage and was bleeding profusely. It took a long time before Amir got a blood donor for his wife.

The social action initiative again came from Wa’ Agu. He invited other PWs to carry out other social actions, namely identifying blood types. Agreeing with Wa’ Agu’s proposal, everyone started to move to carry out their respective duties.

While the PWs began to invite residents to take part in the action, Wa’ Agu went to the person in charge of the Maiwa Suryani Community Health Center Laboratory. He invited Suryani to help him and other PWs carry out checks on residents’ blood types. He also asked Suryani for help in recording the names of residents who were willing to become blood donors if there were cases of bleeding in Botto Mallengga Village, especially bleeding during pregnancy and childbirth.

On 18-19 December 2015, blood group examinations were held in two different places. For residents who live in Cakke Hamlet, Kadeppe Hamlet and Sarassang Hamlet, the inspection was carried out at the house of one PW Suarni in Cakke Hamlet. For residents who live in Mallangga Hamlet, Jati Hamlet and Salusawah Hamlet, the inspection was carried out at Wa’ Agu’s house which is located in Saluwasah Hamlet. During this action, 137 residents also had their blood types checked. 32 residents are also willing to become blood donors for pregnant women and those about to give birth.

Wa’ Agu is one of the PWs of Botto Mallangga Village who is involved in implementing the Transparency for Development (T4D) Program regarding Maternal and Newborn Health. In collaboration with the Ash Institute and J-PAL, PATTIRO carried out this program in one hundred villages in two provinces, namely Banten and South Sulawesi.

*) PATTIRO Facilitator in the T4D Program in South Sulawesi Province | Editor: Ega Rosalina




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