“I want to be a police officer and catch the bad guys. I want to be an inspirational motivator and a broadcaster. I want to be an English teacher and a language expert. I want to change the world!”
These voices could be from children anywhere in the world. These are dreams that are filled with hope, passion and a longing for a glorious future. These are the voices and dreams of three Indonesian children who daily create a better everyday life for themselves – these voices are our heroes!
Today we heard the voice and the dreams of 13 year old Ismi – a girl who sang straight into my heart with her beautiful voice and inspirational presence. She was accompanied by Haniff, a 14 year-old boy, who recited his life and dreams in poetry.
There’s a hero, when you look inside your heart, you don’t have to be afraid of what you are….
Ismi and Haniff are both visually impaired, but they have a clear vision and dream of the future.
Ismi radiates confidence and her happiness is so contagious! She proclaims “I am never sad, I am always happy – my dream is to be a motivator and a broadcaster!” Ismi actually learned to sing in English from the radio even if she doesn’t speak a word of the language. She is a girl who has encouraging parents and supportive friends at school – a young woman with an amazing dream for tomorrow.
Haniff comes across as an artist by heart but his true passion and dream is to be an English teacher and a language expert. “I truly enjoy my life,” he says. “Your project has helped us with educational programs that make it easier for us. I would say that I have changed my life from being useless to being useful. Believe me, I will change the world!”
Ismi and Haniff attend an inclusive senior public high school instead of going to a special school. 1,066 students attend the school in Bandung and three children with special needs are included in the student body. They receive a general education with an emphasis on physics, language and music.
Save the Children, supported by the IKEA Foundation, is helping to train, coach and motivate the teachers on how to care for children with special needs including providing resources that are needed. They also work with awareness-raising for parents as well as students since there is a stigma that is unfortunately associated with these children and how to behave towards children with special needs.
Headmaster Wawa Swwanda says, “We want to include more children with special needs in our school and we want to give them a normal life. They have to be able to compete with normal children and experience exactly the same things.”
One way is to link the junior- with the senior high school and make sure that there is a possibility and opportunity to continue the education. One of the success stories in this particular school is a student with special needs who started in 1991 and continued to university!
The dreams of mothers For six hours a day, they patiently wait for their children with special needs in the development school in Katapang. They spend their time interacting with other parents as well as social workers. Ibn Hamidan, Suparsih and Nokuswati explain, “We come here to provide opportunities for our children. Our dream is for them to be self reliant just like other children. We want to know how we can care for our kids in the best possible way so we can help them achieve their goals.”
Nine social workers help the teachers to educate 62 children with various special needs such as autism and Down’s Syndrome in the school. But they also support, coach and encourage parents to help them care for their children. The idea is that the kids should be able to go to a regular inclusive school and not be in a special school if possible, but also to help them help themselves. To support the parents, an evaluation of the children is provided in their students’ home every three months.
Save the Children along with the IKEA Foundation is working with a holistic approach on all levels in order to support the children with special needs. They build relationships with the government on both national and local levels to step by step support the children’s rights. But it is also important to work on a community level with local partners and family forums. It is a key for continued success and a sustainable approach.
This particular school will actually stand as a model to be replicated in the future.
At the end of the day I meet Regi in his classroom in Katapang. He is 13 years old and every day he rides his bike 5 km to school in order to receive a proper education- because he has a dream. Regi explains, “I want to be a police officer so I can catch all the bad guys in the neighbourhood.” Regi is a very clever boy but he is slightly mentally impaired. He loves being in school with his friends and he spends a lot of time drawing. Regi is meticulous about his drawing and he shows me how to paint with bright colours and stay inside the lines.
Ismi, Haniff and Regi all have a dream of a glorious future and they continuously work towards their goals. Save the Children and the IKEA Foundation are helping them along the way to help themselves. I so am grateful and touched to have met three out of the millions of children who the IKEA Foundation is creating better opportunities for. These children are truly our heroes and I am sure that the best is yet to come for all of them and they will change the world because most things truly remain to be done!