Meet Yessy Lehan. Since she started working as a midwife in Kepayang, a small town close to the Sumatra Merang Peatland Project, our partner project in Indonesia, she has confronted and surmounted enormous challenges. Yessy is a true health hero and project staff interviewed her recently to learn a bit more about her story.
Yessy’s hometown is a small village outside Kepayang. She completed her nurse training in Palembang, the nearest big city, and returned to the village to put her training to work. At the time, the Kepayang health centre was poorly resourced, with nobody there to staff it. “I started volunteering at the centre because I knew the community needed it, and I gradually began to fix it up on my own,” Yessy said.
The SMPP project learned of Yessy’s work at the local health centre in February 2020 and offered her a salary to stay for the long term. “[SMPP] helped organise the local youth group to renovate the health centre and paid for supplies and critical medical equipment. Now, we offer vaccinations every week, several children have been born here and we even have exercise classes,” Yessy said.
With Yessy on the payroll, SMPP has financed the renovation and outfit of the health centre. Trained as a midwife, Yessy supports women who give birth at the centre or at their homes in surrounding communities. Previously, most births lacked proper equipment and care, or women were forced to make the two-hour trip to the next closest health centre for maternal check ups or to give birth. With Yessy at the helm, women in the areas surrounding SMPP have this year begun to deliver in their own communities.
Yessy is also the local contact for the 1,000 Days Anti-stunting Program (see our blog on this here), and was a key player in guiding project staff to implement the programme in Kepayang and the surrounding villages.
Yessy is a true health hero. Starting as a volunteer to help those in need, it’s rewarding to offer her a full-time, paid position doing what she loves for her community. Support from Ecosphere+ clients enable leaders like Yessy to have a positive impact on their community. We’re proud of the work done over the past year to support health heroes in the community and provide critical equipment and services for vulnerable families. These interventions uplift women, improve child health and build resilience against future climate and health threats. We’re looking forward to catching up with Yessy over the next year to learn about all that she’s accomplished. It’s likely she’ll have much to tell.