By Anne Scott,
Vice President of Global Programs
Note: Anne is currently traveling in Indonesia visiting ChildFund International programs in that country.
Tucked behind Soekarna Hatta International Airport, just across the three lane highway and hidden behind the Sanyo and Samsung billboards, lies a very poor neighborhood of the capital city Jakarta. It is called Kemal. You would never know it was there. The rapid infrastructure development serving Jakarta has passed it by.
The residents of Kemal earn their living by processing garbage and plastic discarded by the 14 million or so residents of Jakarta. Garbage and plastic are piled head high along both sides of the one lane road leading into Kemal. A maze of alleyways leading off the road contains makeshift houses and free-standing structures. A mobile phone tower rises high, smack dab in between the houses. The Kemal residents have put it to good use to hang their laundry out to dry.
Buried deep in the heart of Kemal are three development centers serving 600 ChildFund International sponsored children and youth. At the first early childhood development center – as a plane takes off overhead at about 1,000 feet – 40 young children in bright red and purple uniforms sing us a greeting song, and show us their center, which is covered in simple, but colorful number cut-outs, paper chains and lanterns made of drinking straws and bottle caps. In this crowded slum, the 8 by 10 foot playground with a hand-painted seesaw and slide is a luxury. A bright yellow SpongeBob Squarepants adorns the entrance.
We proceed through alleyways to an after-school program for older children. They are busy learning to draw in perspective, using pastels that bring vividly to life, as only children can – the green trees, brown rivers and blue mountains of prettier parts of Indonesia. The children are also learning to play traditional Javanese music.
We walk on to the youth development center, where there is a bucket of soggy paper pulp and a bucket of bright red dyed water. The youth are making recycled paper waste products into colorful handmade paper. Once it has dried in the sun, they use the paper to make hanging ornaments and hand-written notes for their sponsors. They also sell the paper to the childhood development centers.
The sounds and colors emanating from the child and youth development centers of Kemal offer an oasis of calm and beauty in an otherwise harsh environment.
The ChildFund Indonesia team is working in nine areas scattered across the huge metropolis of Jakarta. Thanks to them, the children of Kemal can experience the benefits of development, too.
Additional photos of Anne Scott’s trip to Indonesia can be found on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChildFundInternational.