Putting the building blocks in place

Day 4 of our trip in Bandung, West Java, started early in the morning. We left by bus and on went to Cimahi, a city only 40 minutes away from Bandung with a population of almost 450,000 people.

When we arrived in the Cimahi Convention Hall, the room was transformed, ready for the event, called “AkuBisaKoq”, which in English translates to “I can do it!”

Playing Angklung-Hyme Guru - by Caroline Thadate
Playing Angklung-Hyme Guru – by Caroline Thadate

The event was opened by an Angklung performance – Indonesia’s traditional music instrument from bamboo, performing a song for the teachers, called Hyme Guru. After that the Mayor of Cimahi province, Mrs. Atty Suharti gave a speech. Mr. John Lundine, the Program Director for Save the Children Indonesia, also attended the event, showing his support to the local community.

The event was attended by 125 parents and children with disabilities, coming from cities around Bandung area. For most of them, this is the first time they attended a gathering, supporting children with disabilities.

Later, we divided ourselves into 3 groups for the Children’s activity corner to puzzle, play with Lego, and color. I volunteered for the Lego group, and within seconds all corners were filled with enthusiastic children.

Having fun in Children’s activity corner - by Caroline Thadate
Having fun in Children’s activity corner – by Caroline Thadate
Having fun in Children’s activity corner - by Caroline Thadate
Having fun in Children’s activity corner – by Caroline Thadate

Beside the Children’s activity corner, there are also seminars on the importance of nutrition for children, storytelling, and free therapy session for physical disabilities.

In one of the Lego corners, I couldn’t help but notice a boy sitting in the corner alone. His name was Ripski, and unlike the other children, Ripski only used the leftover blocks to play with. I decided to sit next to him, and gave him more blocks to play with. You can see what happened after 10 minutes, small blocks turned into building blocks for tallest skyscraper. It’s amazing!

Ripski, building the tallest building in the world - by Caroline Thadate
Ripski, building the tallest building in the world part 1: start – by Caroline
Thadate

 

Ripski, building the tallest building in the world - by Caroline Thadate
Ripski, building the tallest building in the world part 2: continue – by Caroline
Thadate

I also noticed that there were two women watching him from the distance. They were Ripski’s mother and older sister. His mom then told me that during her six-month pregnancy with Ripski, she fell while still working in a factory. She immediately thought that the baby would not survive. But, Ripski is now 10 years old. “Ripski is a gift from God”, she said. “I know it is not easy sometimes to take care of him, especially with the father being unsupportive and hating Ripski for his disability. But I know that God will help me to take care of him”. She is now working in a hair salon, supporting her 3 children.

Similar to Ripski, putting the Lego blocks together to create tall buildings, Save the Children supports the CBRs (Community Based Rehabilitation), by giving them starting tools such as therapy, parent’s consultation, and educational support for the less fortunate families. In a way, these are building blocks to build a strong foundation for the local community for Children with Disabilities.
At 12, the event ended. It was a huge success, seeing the numbers of participants, and enthusiasm of both parents and children. Many are hoping that this will be an annual event, and that it will continue as a program. This ceremony is just a start, hopefully by working together with the government, and participation from local community, we will someday reach our goal of having better future for our children.

Happy faces - by Caroline Thadate
Happy faces – by Caroline Thadate