Be ready to be inspired by children with disabilities in Indonesia

We have a group of IWitness Global Citizens going to Indonesia to visit Save the Children projects funded by our Soft Toys for Education campaign. This guest post by Wiwied Trisnadi, a Save the Children project manager, explains the difficulties children with disabilities face in Indonesia, and how our funding is helping change their futures.

Wiwied Trisnadi from Save the Children
Wiwied Trisnadi from Save the Children

One can only imagine the numerous threats posed to children with disabilities, as they are most vulnerable to negligence and physical, emotional or sexual abuse, particularly if they are hidden by their parents at home or placed in institutions. Parents’ limited knowledge, social stigma, and even the economic cost of raising children with complex needs have been claimed to be the causes of multiple deprivations. This leads to even greater exclusion for children with disabilities, which hampers their development.

With around 130,500 children with disabilities living in poverty, Indonesia has invested in improving opportunities for children with disabilities and children’s rights to survival, protection, development and participation. However, a lot more needs to be done, and Indonesia is not alone.

Aiming at inspiring breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieving immediate and lasting change in their lives, Save the Children with support from the IKEA Foundation has implemented a project called Facilitating Family-Based Care for Indonesian Children with Disabilities, mainly in West Java Province. With around 18,700 children with disabilities, West Java has one of the highest populations of children with disabilities in Indonesia. Around 80% of these children are having difficulties getting access to school and other services, such as health and rehabilitation services.

During 2013, our IKEA Foundation-funded project provided training for nearly 1,000 caregivers on how to support the development of children with disabilities. We also provided training for 962 caregivers on good parenting and active learning methods, and we established 76 community family forums to serve as advocates and support groups for caregivers of children with disabilities.

Bearing in mind that these activities may not be sufficient to improve access to education for children with disabilities, we joined forces with the district education offices to provide services for 22 inclusive schools. By improving the physical environment for children with disabilities who attend school, and training teachers on inclusive education, we have ensured that around 87% of the supported students continued their schooling during the new school year.

Yet all hands must be on deck when we aim for behavioural change. Therefore, we assisted the community in establishing 73 community-based rehabilitation committees consisting of volunteers (cadres) whom we then trained in basic rehabilitation and therapy techniques.  These 312 cadres had delivered services to 551 children with disabilities as of December 2013.  We have also mobilised communities and youth around disability issues to reduce stigma and to advocate for better services.

Nobody said it will be an easy journey, and great commitment is needed to make this world a better place for our children. Thanks to the IKEA Foundation, these children now have the opportunity to show what they can achieve, rather than what they cannot do.

IWitness team, we look forward to your coming. Be ready to be inspired.

    Juli Riegler