Erik (of course that is not his real name), hurried to the beautiful black sandy beaches of Ende Island. In the early morning, he and his isle friends were squatting sporadically around the beaches with saroong wrapped tightly over their body. While immersing their little piece of butt in a choppy seashore, Erik had to wait several minutes until he felt he had finished his task, defecate on the beach.
But wait. That was not a contemporary story about Ende Island. The rites is always the same. Erik always rushed in every morning. But he is not going to the beaches to defecate anymore. Instead, he rushed to his newly built pit latrine. A simple one, but effective and healthy. Only covered by coconut tree leaves around it, the small latrine has no roof. “What for? I do not need it. As long as my shit is isolated in a pit, so making no harm to human health, that is more than enough to me,” Erik argued to me in a one hot summer day. Erik is just one example how people in Ende Island were mobilising them self to elevate into completely new health level. A revolution in health, I guess.
Some years previously, Ende Island had always been struck with high diarhea incident, which sometime, sadly, led to high mortality rate. Of course, children are the most vulnerable ones. But as the story goes, they became aware about the danger of shitting in the beaches. Hey, I am not saying this is an easy task, as easy as turning your hand upside down. Not at all. There were activities, done by dedicated people, government staffs, NGO activists, member of parliament, and most importantly, religious leaders. They are committed individuals, perhaps some are less committed, who did a great job, which is changing people’s behavior! What is obviously clear to me is the fact that Ende Island community is the real actors that drive the change. At least, that kind of insight is also reverberated on the newly published book by Ministry of Health, tittled, “Ende Island The First Indonesian Island to Declare Itself Open Defecation Free.”
The book, is about Ende Island and the effort that had been put by its people. The book will tell us what can be learnt from a series of activities that can change people’s behavior. It is not only about the activities that driven from outside, but also about community led effort, community initiative and their willingness to change. Yes, I can say this is a success story book, even it is writen in a lesson learnt language. Of course, lot of things, could not be covered within only few pages of the book. For instance, I heard epic story of how a Catholic helping his Ende Island’s Moslem friends to make Ende Island as the Mecca’s porch in the Eastern Isle of Indonesia. This kind of things are valuable and important pieces of information to be studied further. I hope, someday, I would be able to write something about Ende Island in a more academic point of view. Perhaps, my master study research project. Insyaallah, if it is God’s will. Let’s not limiting our hope.
1. Book can be viewed or downloaded on the given link below
2. Featured image taken from the Book. I do not own the photo. It may be copyrighted. Please Contact if you wish me to remove the photo.