The ‘I’ in Indonesia

After our first day visiting schools and programs in Indonesia, my mind raced like the motorcycles darting through the evening traffic. I wondered how I could go back to the comfort of our cozy hotel after the experiences of the day. I worried about my ability to return to a great job and a fortunate life in the United States having encountered so many young people with fewer opportunities than I have. I tried to wrap my head around what I was going to do with myself after meeting adults using few resources to provide futures for children with disabilities.

Then, I hit the brakes on my thoughts: I was searching for answers to what I needed, caught in a moment that I made about myself. This wasn’t about me. This was about them, the children and students, teachers, social workers, in communities throughout Bandung, West Java.

It’s so easy to fall into a trap of personal guilt after an experience that jolts perspective. It’s a very human reaction, sure, but here it was a folly. See, although there is much to be done in Indonesia, because of the efforts generated via the Soft Toys for Education campaign through IKEA Foundation’s partnership with Save the Children, there is a tremendous amount of hope!

Sharing smiles with students and teacher
Sharing smiles with students and teacher

In the Bandung District, schools will embrace inclusive learning, nurturing proactive environments that meet the fundamental educational needs of all students, able-bodied and disabled alike. Communities that dot the district will continue to implement and expand community-based rehabilitation projects that empower families and villages to best meet the challenges and opportunities of children with disabilities through social work and localized care. Special schools will likewise grow in capabilities, expanding resources to address the individual and unique requirements of their young pupils.

Desi, one of the pupils at this inclusive school, is a compelling example of successful integration
Desi, one of the pupils at this inclusive school, is a compelling example of successful integration

There is so much to be excited about in Bandung! From the kind-hearted optimism of Save the Children’s Marwan Wan and Tata Sudrajat to the team of bright social workers from the Social Affairs Office, from the motivated staff and educators at the various schools to the relentlessly optimistic and motivated children: a difference will be made and it will be beautiful.

And, that’s where it comes back to me. This is where the journey comes full circle to each of us! I will always be linked to Indonesia, to Bandung, to Ciparay, to Baleedah, to the schools I visited, to Wisma Putra and the many of other places and people I am so fortunate to have part of my personal history. There will be a bond.

Taking a break from studies, students enjoy a warm, sunny morning on the courtyard
Taking a break from studies, students enjoy a warm, sunny morning on the courtyard

You share that connection, too. With your continued generous contributions to the Soft Toys for Education campaign and Save the Children, you extend the livelihood of hope. Even as we celebrate these foundations of success, this is not a time to idle. This is a moment to seize and embrace with selfless vigor and open hearts.

 

English
    Doug Johnson