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Project Background

SurfAid believes that mother and child health can only be improved if basic health structures are in place and adequately equipped; that staff and volunteers are well trained, able and motivated to deliver appropriate health services; that mothers and caregivers understand and practice healthy behaviours and there is a positive environment to support and foster improved health behaviours.

In order to achieve this, SurfAid creates interventions for all these different people and institutions, and aims to reduce barriers to change. Barriers to change include a lack of access to basic health services and clean water, limited access to nutritious foods, a lack of knowledge on basic hygiene and child health, and a lack of a supporting environment.

This project will focus on improving basic health services, specifically the community health posts and the health volunteers and staff who work in them, as well as increasing the healthy behaviour of community members.

Project Overview

In Nias, a beautiful holiday and surfing destination, infant and maternal mortality are significantly above national figures.  It is SurfAid's mission to improve the health, well being and self-reliance of people living in isolated areas like Nias, using our "a hand up, not a hand out" philosophy.

Surprisingly, you actually don’t have to look very far to find remote communities in our ever-connected world. Just behind the palms of one of the world’s top surfing destinations are villages that are so off the beaten track that basic government services don’t reach them. No clean water, health services, education or electricity.

One example is Sisobahili -- a remote and extremely isolated village in Gido, Nias. To reach it is a journey unto itself.  It begins by car with a four-wheel drive to a small dirt path. From there, it’s a 2 -hour hike, or a hair raising dirt bike ride, through the woods, crossing a river and a stream. During the dry season, it is quite a trek to get there, but easy enough compared to the wet season when the road becomes a sea of mud, and the rivers and streams completely flood. And did we mention there is no bridge? 

SurfAid recently added this village to our outreach program. This project will support 6 villages like Sisobahili.

The inhabitants of Sisobahili Gido are mainly subsistence farmers, growing rubber and cacao. Their homes are scattered over a large area, and closer to their agricultural lands, rather than centralized around a main traditional chief house, as is more typical in Nias. Basic services, such as health care, clean water, and education are either of poor quality or non-existent. There is no midwife available to deliver mother and child health services. Two out of nine children are malnourished and the number of women dying in childbirth is unacceptably high.

Key Project Objectives & Activities

Donations to this project will ultimately benefit 6 isolated communities of Gido, Indonesia. These communities are comprised of 1,374 individual family members, including 515 children under five.


  • Increase knowledge on child health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation for the parents of Gido
  • Increase quality of basic health services (community health posts)
  • Increase coaching skills of health volunteers to support the parents in their communities


  • 42 volunteers across 6 communities will be empowered and inspired through dynamic training on mother and child health and coaching techniques
  • 6 community health posts will receive basic health materials to monitor the health of toddlers, pregnant women and mothers.

Community Volunteer Driven

All of SurfAid’s programs employ a philosophy of a “hand up, not a hand out”.  

To achieve this, we work to empower communities through training and behaviour change.  In this project, groups of community health volunteers work together with the local health department to deliver health messages on nutrition, hygiene and sanitation to their neighbours, focusing on at-risk households. They are our front line, receiving ongoing training and support from SurfAid staff. These volunteers are the bridge between their own community and the community health services.

Monthly, a health service is run by the volunteers, where children under five and pregnant mothers receive basic health services. These include monitoring, weighing, immunisation and provision of health information. To help the volunteers give clear and correct health messages to families, it is very important that they have training and educational materials. 

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