Today – on our last day of this fantastic trip to Indonesia – we visited a shelter for neglected children – another Save the Children project in Bandung. In this center live 80 children from all over West Java. Children who are either orphans or neglected by their parents and always very poor. The center works according to a new governmental standard of care which is better than that of most private institutions. One of the main tasks is to support the children´s re-union with the parents when that is possible.
Looking back at these days in the West Java Bandung district, one thing that strikes me is how many astonishing people we have met – children and adults. In every school and Community Based Rehabilitation center (CBR) we have visited we have received such a warm welcome by children, teachers, parents, community members.
I would like to introduce you to some of these strong and dedicated persons.
Marwan Wan is the Sr. Project manager for this Save the Children project and he has also been one of our guides. Marwan is so very devoted to this task to support children with disabilities to get an education and a good life. He started working with disabled children in Ache already 7 years ago. Marwan tells me that one of the very important parts to sustain this project is to find skilled, educated people. But what is more important is Heart – and he places his hand over his heart (also a greeting gesture in Indonesia).
And heart is really what Marwan has. We can see and hear (without understanding a word of Indonesian) his dedication and engagement when he speaks with people in schools and villages. But it is not only heart. Marwan describes very clearly the strategy in this project which is to develop and spread the already existing good examples of schools, CBRs and family forums. All very important elements in the work to support children with disabilities to get a good education.
One of the admirable and strong women we have met is Ibu Nur (Ibu is Indonesian for Madame). Ibu Nur is not only the founder and headmaster of the special school in Katapang. She also supports other centers to start up and develop activities for children with disabilities.
I asked Ibu Nur what her dream is. And she answered: “It is to make it possible for every disabled child in the district to have a good education.”
And what is then the biggest challenge – to reach this dream –I asked? She answered: “It is money. We know what to do but everything – including good teachers, school facilities, material etc. – costs money.”
Finally I´d like you to meet a group of young social workers whose task is to support the parents of the children in this project. To support them with knowledge about their child´s disability, what tools are available and how to use these tools to train the child in their home.
These are just some of the wonderful people we have met. To get to know all the others you have to visit these places yourself.
Terima Kasih – Thank you – for the opportunity to meet you and get to know you a little bit.