In early March Anatman made a second journey to Aceh for Save The Children, this time to make a documentary explaining the benefits of breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months after birth to women in remote villages.
Our destination was the coffee growing highlands of the Bener Mariah Regency in Aceh Special District, so we flew to Medan and planned to catch a connecting 50 minute flight to Lhok Seumawe, and it would be a further four hour car drive from there. As it turned out, our connecting flight was delayed more than 6 hours and once we were in the air and ready to land, the pilot informed us that we would be turning around and heading back to Medan as outside conditions were too dangerous. So we found ourselves back in Medan, late at night, devoid of any plans on how to reach our destination as there were no alternative flights and no cars and drivers available to drive us at such short notice. After waiting several hours for our flights to be refunded and the airline putting us up in a hotel for the night, we finally made a contact and arranged for a car and driver to pick us up at 7am the next morning to make the long journey. As always, we had our toddler son Samudra with us and this threw another spin into our journey. 30 minutes into the drive he was sick and so had to be held for the remaining 12+ hour car ride to Takengon. We made a couple of quick stops to stretch our legs and fill our bellies and get some air to refresh ourselves.
The scenery as we drove along was absolutely stunning, with lush green rice fields, rivers and mountains and people going about their daily lives. That part of the trip was beautiful, but entertaining a toddler being sick was not so beautiful and arriving at the hotel late at night felt like a welcome relief for our whole team.
An early morning drive through the mountains to the Save The Children offices for briefing brought back great memories of our last trip with fresh air and a lovely team to work with.
Our first stop was to visit the Dinas Kesehatan (public health office) in Bener Mariah District where Putra held his first interviews and I had an adventure with Samudra at a preschool next door where he had a great time playing with all the beautiful local children.
We then headed out to the villages where we spent the day meeting with various people including midwives, heads of villages and mothers and drove around trying to find the main talent for our story. Samudra met many beautiful children and families throughout the day and so had fun running around playing.
Putra and Sigit stayed in the village overnight for filming and Samudra and I returned late to Takengon to our hotel only to find Putra had our key and the hotel had no spares. What an interesting trip this was turning out to be..
It was a divine drive through the mountains the following morning in the early sunlight, watching people preparing for the day ahead, and kids taking the long journeys to school walking through winding roads. We spent an hour at the bustling local market filming our main talent and meeting with the lovely food sellers which was very entertaining.
The next stop was the midwife clinic, which was a quaint little building covered in beautiful bright bougainvillaea flowers, and there were so many adorable babies there being weighed and receiving their immunisations out in the sunshine and fresh air. Samudra entertained himself chasing ducks and being carried around by government staff while Putra shot more footage in the lovely surrounds.
Samudra and I had a quick stop at Nurul Baida’s (the main talent) house where he played with her daughter and we listened to their infectious giggles as they ran around the house, jumping up and down and playing with the bike in the garden.
It was then back to Takengon for Samudra and I while Putra and Sigit continued around the village conducting interviews and filming. To escape the heat and confines of the hotel room we took a walk around the surrounding area and played upstairs on the kids rides at the local supermarket, where Samudra made friends with all the female staff who instantly became paparazzi as they don’t get many foreigners visiting their little part of Indonesia often.
On the final morning Samudra and I took a quick trip by becak motor to the stunning lake in the early morning while the mist rose and the clouds hung over the surrounding mountains making it look magical. It was the perfect way to end our journey before the long drive back to Banda Aceh for our flight home the following morning.
A huge thank you again to the team at Save The Children for allowing us the opportunity to travel to Aceh to be able to assist with your campaign and we wish you great success with all the beautiful mothers and babies in your area.
We look forward to sharing the documentary video here soon so stay tuned….