The beginning of a long journey

“For children with a disability, it is not just a matter of getting them into school. They need to fight to survive in school.” –Mr. Wiwied – Project manager of Save the Children’s IDEAL project

These past five days have been an eye-opening experience for the six of us. Knowing that those places we visited are in the same country as where we live, yet they hold many unresolved issues we never realized exist. Being with the Save The Children team and learning about the project they’ve been working on gave us a mixed feeling of frustration and relief. It is frustrating to know that in this country we still treat people with disabilities as second-class citizens; it is becoming more frustrating when we see how children with disabilities will face the same discrimination throughout their life, if nothing is done. Yet it is a relief to know that things have started to emerge in order to resolve this problem.


Early Childhood Education School in Cimaung - by Rimba Patria
Early Childhood Education School in Cimaung – by Rimba Patria

Save the Children’s IDEAL project, as a continuation of their previous project, aims to create a community where children with disabilities can live among their society without being discriminated against, especially at school. The local government has put out a regulation that requires public schools to accept children with disabilities for at least 2% of their total student body. The question now is, have schools been equipped enough to fulfill such requirements?

The inclusive education that the local government recently adopted requires a long preparation involving all elements of the society. Schools need to be equipped in order to ensure that children with disabilities can follow the learning process without any obstacles. Teachers need to be trained on how to interact with children with special needs. And most importantly, the community needs to learn to accept the presence of children with disabilities among them. There have been many cases where children with disabilities have become the target of bullying and mockery. Thus, there is an urgent need for education or training or sharing sessions to raise this issue to stop discrimination and create better everyday lives for children with disabilities.

Campaign against Child Abuse by student of SDN 1 Jamika, Save The Children, Local Government, and IWitness Team - by Rimba Patria
Campaign against child abuse by students of SDN 1 Jamika, Save the Children, local government, and our IWitness team
– by Rimba Patria

This trip teaches us to never give up; things that are worth fighting for are never easy to do, yet we should keep giving our best. We experience how rewarding it is when we can use our specialty to contribute to the community. We met people who are passionate about what they do and never see their limitation as an obstacle. We learnt that all children, regardless of their circumstances, are very eager to learn and they all deserve the best education.

IWitness Team Play Games with Children in Cimaung - by Rimba Patria
IWitness team play games with children in Cimaung
– by Rimba Patria

I would like to quote Mr. Wiwied when he explains about disability. “Disability is when someone has a certain limitation that creates an obstacle in their social life. When they are able to overcome those obstacles, the disability is no longer there. Our job is to help them to overcome those obstacles, so that they can live among the society.”

There is a long journey ahead and most things still remain to be done. And now, since we have come to know about this issue, we cannot turn away from it. To do what we can do even as simple as creating an awareness to people around us. Because, when we have a chance to give voice to people who do not have a voice, it becomes an obligation.

“Most things still remain to be done.” – Ingvar Kamprad

    Ririh Dibyono