YFER ‘s International Debut!!

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Now that we have two new websites we need to share some news stories with you that many of you may be interested in and yet know about!

Last year Deb and Tracy were invited to present Core of Life in Bali – yes we can hear you say "what a shame"...............

YFER had been corresponding with a Yayasan Community Birthing service in Ubud, Yayasan meaning charity foundation, which is run by truly amazing midwives with a vision to offer midwifery model care to the general community as a choice alternative to the general public hospital system which as you can imagine, is not necessarily the most optimal choice for many families.

It became apparent that there was an opportunity to run Core of Life in a local high school for young women, and of course Deb and Tracy jumped at the chance. COL was translated into Balinese; most of the images/content was changed to reflect local Balinese culture with pictures provided by Ibu Robin the leader at Bumi Sehat (birthing centre). Following a scrounge around for supplies to donate and kit contents we had enough equipment to fill a small jumbo! To make matters even more interesting, coinciding, it also came about that we were invited to visit some NGO's in Cambodia as well. We also needed to prepare for a whirlwind trip to Penhom Pen and Siem Reap.

Thanks to Air Asia's budget flights we pulled together a very reasonable itinery and away we headed.

Cambodia was what Deb and I would describe as a solemn place. Many of the people have strong memories or the enormous atrocities that occurred there in recent history (well recent to us anyway!) The evidence of such being still very prevalent in the physical and mental makeup of the communities, and we only really saw the main cities, only really scratching the surface. We met with UNFPA, Dept School Health, Friends society, US Peace corps all telling us stories of extreme hardship, dismal life opportunities and appalling Maternal & Child Health outcomes amongst a very paternalistic society.

We came away from this visit with a bad belly (well Tracy did anyway!) as well as enlightened and far more aware of the complex and multitude needs of a society stuck between living on a withdrawing world aide and a government who appears to be struggling with any form of structure and effective support for its people. There is an abundance of needs in this country, and what we can provide in the form of educating for a healthier future for mothers and babies would only be the tiniest of contributions but we and other organisations including school health and the US Peace corps, do believe there is a place for this type of education – we now are faced with the task of seeking funding support to do so.

Whew.....so then on to Bali, which although would appear to be the happy trouble free island we all see on Aussie travel itineries, does have its own mounting issues. As the influx of tourists resumes to enormous levels post the Bali bombings so too does the levels of STI's and pregnancies. Bali, for those who are unfamiliar, is a very dedicated cultural melting pot. Unlike other parts of Indonesia that are Moslem, Balinese people's beliefs are based on a form of Hinduism called "Hindu Darma" which is believed to have arrived on the island during the 11th century. This religion plays a heavy part in the family customs and community lifestyle and its influence expands extensively into the arts. Each stage of Balinese life is marked by a series of ceremonies and rituals known as Manusa Yadnya. The first ceremony of Balinese life takes place even before birth. Another ceremony takes place soon after the birth, during which the afterbirth is buried with appropriate offerings. The first major ceremony takes place halfway through the baby's first Balinese year of 210 days. The Balinese have managed to preserve their culture in amongst the onslaught of visitors to this point but many worry how this can continue.

There is currently very little health education available In Bali. Youth are not offered sexually transmitted diseases, reproductive health nor any information on HIV, all of which is increasing in incidence at a rapid rate. Parents and organisations we spoke with are concerned that as the incidence of the above problems increase there appears to be little being done to address it.

So with this in mind we held our day COL workshop for 25 young women and 8 staff at Pelangi School in Ubud. With the incredible support from locals we taught, played, catered for and slowly chinked away at the consciousness of 25 teenage girls. The girls were initially shy and cautious of what the day would bring, but as with most groups they relaxed, opened up and embraced the opportunity to learn information they had previously not been privy to. They shared stories from their homelife and we shared stories from ours. They sat amazed watching the waterbirth video and laughed their way through the birthing role play – the same as our young audiences in Oz do. We have to say though the funniest sight was watching Deb show the group how to put a condom on a glow stick container (it was the only similarly shaped object available). After telling the group she "hadn't needed to do this in a while" and "this is not the usual shape of a penis" the girls managed to stop laughing long enough to ask some incredible questions and through the aid of our handy gorgeous translator Ina, we answered them frankly and honestly. The day was completed with all receiving a certificate for attending and a goodies bag, complements of Disney Australia, which of course they adored.

This trip left us a little overwhelmed but simultaneously inspired and energized, to now see what we can create and bring to the table to share with families in these two very different countries. Again the challenge is to locate the funding assistance required to make a start.