Dr Johanna Kurscheid and A/Prof Darren Gray attended a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and Australia Indonesia Institute hosted event at the Australian Embassy Jakarta on 20 February 2018. The event showcased a hygiene promotion pilot, known as Rama the Worm, recently undertaken in Indonesia in collaboration with Prof Don Stewart of Griffith University; Dr Dan Bendrups of La Trobe University; and Dr Budi Laksono of YWBS Foundation, Indonesia.
Rama and the Worm
Shadow Puppets and Neglected Diseases is an Australia-Indonesia Institute funded project that aims to promote health in Central Java, to reduce the impact of parasitic diseases such as soil-transmitted helminths (STH). The project uses Javanese shadow puppetry as a vehicle in village communities for disseminating health education and promoting behaviour change to prevent diseases caused, primarily, by inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. The health education messages contained in the play, although using traditional characters and themes such as the meta-theme of conflict between Rama and Ravana, has required the creation of a completely new narrative script, using characters and plot lines familiar to the wayang kulit repertoire, but placing them in new situations that relate specifically to health promotion objectives. The musical accompaniment is a musical-cultural fusion involving both the traditional musical accompaniment of Javanese gamelan and Western instruments, especially rock band instrumentation. This project has been tested in a village in Central Java (Wonosobo) using a pre/post design with both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The results provide proof of concept with scaling up the next step forward. The wayang kulit production provides a significant additional component for an integrated, comprehensive approach to reduction and elimination of STH infection.