ChildFund Indonesia National Director Sharon Thangadurai provides an update on issues most affecting children and youth in Indonesia. Many children are malnourished and child abandonment is not uncommon, so increasing children’s access to healthcare and education are pressing priorities for ChildFund.
by Virginia Sowers
Today begins a three-part series on ChildFund’s recovery efforts in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India following the 2004 tsunami.
More than 200,000 people lost their lives on Dec. 26, 2004, when, without warning, a tsunami hit countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. ChildFund was among the first responders, attending to children’s needs, distributing emergency supplies and helping families and communities organize for survival and recovery.
Like most of you, I watched the catastrophe play out on television, shocked by the devastation across Asia, and moved to make a modest contribution to disaster relief. But as is often the case in the U.S., the media cycle moves on to keep pace with Americans’ notoriously short attention spans.
Since joining the staff of ChildFund this past year, I’ve happily come to realize that our organization has a long attention span in the wake of disasters. Our field staff in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka recently updated me on the significant progress since the tsunami—and the continuing need to support children in the region.
Restarting sustainable livelihoods for devastated communities and helping children cope were the top priorities for ChildFund Indonesia in 2004. Immediate focus was placed on helping communities provide safe and healthy spaces for children, with special attention to orphans, children separated from their families and households headed by one parent or grandparents.
ChildFund Indonesia was able to assist communities with income-generating skills and improve educational opportunities for children with no access to schools. As schools were rebuilt, ChildFund established a mobile library to put books in the hands of children on a regular basis. Another program provided families with gardening tools, vegetable seeds and fertilizer. ChildFund also helped with the formation of “Self Help Groups” to start up small businesses and microenterprises within communities.
Today, community-based organizations and youth clubs continue to pave the way for improvements in education, child protection, nutrition and employment skills.
Tomorrow: Much work remains in a country still recovering from a 30-year military conflict and the deadly tsunami of 2004 — Sri Lanka.
Natural disasters create chaotic situations that put already vulnerable children in grave danger. In the past week, ChildFund International responded to two emergencies in Asia that have killed hundreds of people, destroyed homes and disrupted livelihoods.
In Indonesia, a deadly earthquake in Padang leveled schools, hospitals, businesses and homes. ChildFund Indonesia National Director Sharon Thangadurai says response has been quite slow because there are blackouts in the earthquake area, phone lines are cut and roads connecting neighboring cities are damaged.
“Our assessment team was able to reach Padang area … but they have no access to phones with the electricity being out,” Thangadurai says. “They will conduct the needs assessment and then travel to a nearby city to report back the status of the situation and what are the most critical needs for children.”
ChildFund Indonesia is currently working with the local government to establish Child Centered Spaces for displaced children.
“Our priority will be to provide the needed emotional support to children who always bear the brunt of major disasters like this,” Thangadurai says.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Super Typhoon Parma made landfall over the weekend, but the area where ChildFund works has been spared from the worst.
“Because the typhoon went more along the coastal area, there has not been significant damage in our ChildFund program area,” ChildFund Philippines National Director Dennis O’Brien says. “The damage will be manageable; however, our vulnerability is that typhoon season is still with us.”
This typhoon comes on the heels of Typhoon Ondoy, which caused severe flooding in the country. ChildFund continues to work with the local government to meet the basic needs of more than 18,000 children and families.
“We have five evacuation centers, housing 500 families, where we have set up Child Centered Spaces for children,” O’Brien says.
We will continue to update you on theses situations as information comes from the field. For the latest information and to donate to the relief updates, click here.
By David Hylton
Public Relations Specialist
On the next stop in our “31 in 31” series, we visit Indonesia, a country comprised of many islands with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. ChildFund International has worked in this country since 1958, with a big focus on education. We have built preschools, provided educational tools, trained teachers and counseled parents on the importance of beginning the learning process early for their children.
Today we meet Ardyan, a 12-year-old boy who has a passion for kites. One common theme found in all the countries we work in is children’s love for play. And that love can be found in ChildFund’s traveling toy exhibit, “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure.” The exhibit includes toys such as Ardyan’s kite, which was creatively fashioned from castoff items.
Ardyan, who is an only child, eagerly provides the details on what is needed to make a good kite: bamboo, thin paper, glue, a knife, string or thread and coloring items. Ardyan has also developed specific instructions for kitemaking:
1. Cut two pieces of bamboo of the same length to make two sticks one-half inch wide. Smooth with sandpaper.
2. Mark a point that is one-third the length of the first stick and at the center of the second stick. Tie the sticks together at the cross section.
3. Tie the string or thread at the four edges.
4. Spread some glue on the thread and the sticks.
5. Place a thin paper on the frame and set it correctly.
6. Cut the paper based on the pattern.
7. Apply some glue at the border of the paper.
8. Insert a string at the middle and bottom of the kite.
9. Adjust the string according to the right measure.
10. Color the kite as per choice.
Last, but not least, on a breezy day (of which there are many in Indonesia), grab a group of friends and go fly the kite.
For more information on Indonesia, click here. For more details about ChildFund’s traveling toy exhibit, which is currently at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, click here. There you’ll find even more stories about toys from Indonesia.
More on Indonesia
Population: 240 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 312,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Indonesia is known for Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world according to Forbes.
Next in our “31 in 31” series: We head to Mozambique.
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.
By Anne Scott,
Vice President of Global Programs
Here at last! I left the United States on Wednesday morning, and by Saturday morning, after too many hours in the air, I arrived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Then I went on a seven-hour drive, up a winding road into the mountain district of Bener Merieh. An additional 4 kilometers by dirt track leads us up to the village of Pancar di Lombok, which sits on the high mountain top at about 8,000 feet above sea level.
In the dirt front yard of a simple wooden house surrounded by colorful fruit trees and coffee plants, with oxen tied to a nearby fence and chickens running about, about 20 village children are gathered, singing and laughing and playing games.
Parents and grandparents are happily watching their enjoyment. For a long time, before 2006, children could not come out to play or go to school. Due to conflict in this area of Aceh, they were confined to their homes. Day-by-day they lost opportunities to learn how to communicate their needs and ideas, explore their world, gain knowledge and make friends.
The children gathered today in Pancar di Lombok are recapturing lost time through structured play. Guided by their facilitator Kemalawati, the children play games and sing rhyming songs that build physical coordination, literacy and numeracy skills, memory recall, and a sense of belonging with fellow playmates. Tapping his toes and snapping his fingers to the beat of an introducing song, 6-year-old Ari takes his turn in the children’s circle to shout out with confidence, “Namanya saya Ari!” (“My name is Ari!”)
In this area of Banda Aceh, ChildFund International is working in 33 villages like Pancar di Lombok, helping children and communities to rebuild after the end of the long conflict. The ChildFund team has trained village community facilitators such as Kemalawati in how to engage and teach children through structured play. Kemalawati’s ability and enthusiasm, and the obvious affection that the children have for her, demonstrate that the ChildFund team has succeeded in its task.
The facilitators work with the children for two hours after school each week day. This activity is part of a larger project to rebuild communities like Pancar di Lombok. The ChildFund team is also helping to strengthen school curricula and bolster families’ incomes.
I’m coming down from the mountain now, feeling good about the difference that ChildFund is making in the lives of children affected by conflict in Aceh.
Anne Scott joined ChildFund International in August 2008 as vice president of Global Programs.