The 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service
CITATION for Aloysius Benedictus Mboi and Nafsiah Walinono Mboi
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 1986, Manila, Philippines
Chronic hunger, high infant mortality, isolation and a sense of hopelessness was the lot of most inhabitants of the 110-odd islands of Indonesia's southeast Nusa Tenggara Timur province. Cursed by the nation's longest and most erratic dry seasonbroken occasionally by heavy rainstormsand miserable rocky soil, the farmers (80 percent of the population) were dependent on slash and burn methods of cultivation and could seldom grow enough corn for subsistence. The coastal communities on the three larger islands (Sumba, Flores, Timur), trading sporadically with the modern
economies on Java, Bali and Sulawesi, were handicapped by lack of port facilities and roads into the interior.
Thus, excluded from Indonesia's growing prosperity, the islanders felt themselves forgotten by the national leaders in Jakarta. Native young people seeking a beuer future left the province. Outside investors had little interest in using the idle wild grassland for cattle grazing, or in exploiting the abundant fishing grounds in the adjoining waters because processing and shipping infrastructure did not exist.
It was difficult for ALOYSIUS BENEDICTUS MBOI and NAFSIAH MBOI-WALINONOboth medical practitionersto leave the comforts and professional and financial attractions of Jakarta for the backward province to which he was appointed governor in 1978, even though he had been born to a rajah family of the province, in Ruteng, Flores, in 1935, and she to a noble house of Sengkang in neighboring South Sulawesi, in 1940. They met in her first and his fourth year in medical college where he was president of the Student Council, and they were married when she graduated.
Entering the Army Medical Corps, Dr. BEN MBOI broadened his professional skills with special training in public health. Advanced study took him to Belgium, Norway, West Germany and Holland before he promoted to colonel and head of the army's Preventive Medicine Institute. Dr. NAFSIAH MBOI took graduate courses in pediatrics in Belgium and Holland. She became an ardent practitioner of socially conscious medicine and led in mobilizing women to create effective health organizations.
Since moving to the provincial capital of Kupang, where BEN is now serving his second five-year term as governor, this couple has initiated dramatic change in prospects for the province. Foodand water for growing cropswas the new governor's first priority. Where government agencies responsible for teaching and assisting farmers had often been moribund, he enthused their staffs with a sense of direction and purpose that has helped farmers make the province self-sufficient in grain for the past three years. Repeated trips to remote villages convinced him that better access was essential and his skillful persuasion in Jakarta resulted in funding to build over 1,000 kilometers of blacktop roads and more gravel feeder roads. Most vital is his instilling educators, technicians and officials with a contagious perception of what they can do with will and work.
So-called "child killers" became an urgent concern of NAFSTAH, who became director of the province's community health services. Neonatal tetanus, gastroenteritis and measles were the major causes of the mortality of infants under the age of one year, reportedly exceeding 124 deaths per 1,000. NAFSL\H vitalized the Village Family Welfare Movement and Dharma Wanita, the organization of wives of civil servants; a growing women's cooperative movement emerged as a result of her leadership. She also established a provincial board for coordination and advancement of nongovernmental efforts in the field of social development, bringing to these organizations recognition, self-respect, information and funds. The Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association came alive with new outreach.
The gregarious, jolly governor and his enterprising wife agree that the work has only begun. When they first arrived in Kupang he challenged his staff: "If not us, who? If not now, when?" The couple's infectious energy and optimism inspired the answers: "us" and "now."
In electing Governor ALOYSIUS BENEDICTUS MBOI and Dr. NAFSIAH MBOI-WALINONO to receive the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes their open-hearted invigoration of government and cooperating agencies, bringing practical rural progress and new self-motivation to nearly three million villagers in Indonesia's bleakest province.
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