Dated December 2, 2012.
Kids from every corner started to run and approach us to give salam tangan (hand shake of respect) as we entered Jogjogan Elementary School at the foot of Mount Salak, Sukabumi.
They were very vibrant and excited about our visitation, it was indeed an emotional moment for me, indescribable with words on how touching it was seeing the children’s emotions and smiles. They were pure.
I am very touched by the children’s enthusiasm although they have to walk miles to school (averagely 2 KM – up and down the hill because this school is located in the base of Mount Salak. Hint hint the mountain we can see in every Aqua bottle); it shows how excited they are when we teach them, play with them and ask them to participate. They love school, they fight with their friends but they care for each other.
The kids are also quite discipline, with an exception of a few brave ones. They will follow whatever the elders have told them and will listen diligently.
Wait till they sing Indonesia Raya on top of their lungs, I literally shed tears of happiness and sadness with the back drop of a broken window and torn maps. Which is actually in a better condition than some more rugged ones in the outskirts.
Little do they know that their education may stop at 6th grade, few lucky ones (about 60%) will go to Middle School and some privileged ones (about 20%) will have their high school diploma, according to the teachers.
Even though middle school is free, High School cost Rp 90,000 – Rp 120,000 (USD 9 – 12) / month, which some of us spend for one dinner and some of them can’t afford to lose.
What I notice is, some kids wear washed and torn shoes; yellowish uniforms, but bright smile all the way.
A few parents have told me that they have limited economic capabilities. Imagine one family usually has 4 – 7 children! Why? Because some can’t afford contraception which cost Rp 20,000 – USD 2 / month.
Good thing is there are free birth cares from the government in the nearest Puskesmas (clinic) as well as free vaccinations and healthcare control.
So their parents or even at times its on their own will chose to work. There are 3 garment factories in the area (mostly foreign owned), they usually end up there with minimum wage (Rp 1,6 million – USD 160) or even less for the clothes we wear. Same goes to the family’s breadwinner (the father – or even single mothers).
Many hopes come for the government’s School Operational Support (BOS) program in 2014, which gives them the opportunity to study in High School for free. Also from private supports, that several people shared with (I believe in Public Private Partnership PPP). Tid bits of supports here and there will help.
This is of course are the hopes of the dedicated teachers (only three are considered PNS and the rest are on honorary basis). Some parents have yet to know about this however some kids have eventually took Paket C (a program for mature students/drop outs to attain high school diploma) hoping for a better future.
I am honestly inspired by a teacher who grew up there, left to study in college and return to his village to spread hopes.
Perhaps one day these kids can eventually fulfill their dreams of being doctors, scientist, teachers, even soccer players like Irfan Bachdim and Badminton player like Taufik Hidayat, so they say or whatever they like. Then imagine the impact it will give to the living condition of about 300 million people and beyond.
I would like to personally congratulate Backpacker Indonesia Jabodetabek for the awesome 1st Anniversary celebration with social cause.
They have successfully attain donations and gave school bags, books, writing tools and hats to every single children. Not to mention clothing, school supplies, foods and more for the school. Awesome theatrical performance, games with the children, bring happiness every soul.
Traveling becomes much more meaningful as we share joy with others 🙂
Much love from Indonesia.