Our impact in Indonesia
Isolation and poor education means opportunities for success are scarce for children living in rural Indonesia. In a country where road is the primary means of transportation, around 11 million people live in remote areas inaccessible by car for much of the year. In these areas, lack of contact with the outside world causes communities to stagnate, while faltering trade affects the local economy.
Out of the frying pan
The resulting joblessness forces many people to migrate to the city in the hope of finding work. More often than not, however, the move leaves migrants disappointed, and despair of finding a job means many people risk exploitation by traffickers.
Particularly vulnerable are children, tens of thousands of whom suffer in the commercial sex trade. The vicious industry of child sex tourism centres especially around urban areas and tourist destinations where rural families often end up in their search for work.
Building stronger families
Another group vulnerable to the child sex industry are young girls who have run away from home. A culture of young marriage is endemic in Indonesia. 20% of children are affected by this; in the countryside, the figure increases to one in three. Many of these marriages end in divorce, and young girls, unable to return to their families, are often forced into prostitution, the only way to make a living.
We believe a strong, supportive family is essential to ensure children are able to build a prosperous life. We help mothers and fathers improve their parenting skills and enhance awareness of their children’s needs. When food is scarce, we provide it, and where families struggle in important dealings with the authorities, we step in to offer them support. For parents of young children, our nurseries offer not only early education for infants, but a safe place for parents to leave their children while they go out to work.
Our aim is to get families back on track, making sure they can stay together and give their children a stable upbringing. Coupled with the full education we offer children within the reach of our Villages, we are giving these children a real chance of success.
Learning to play
In the capital Jakarta, the SOS Playbus is a travelling social centre targeting areas outside the reach of our Village there. Stimulating group play is an essential part of growing up, but many communities do not recognise this or lack the money and resources to provide large-scale social interaction for youngsters.
The Playbus offers children a selection of stimulating activities designed to improve attention and encourage intellectual development, visiting hospitals, public parks and deprived estates. For a few hours per visit, children enjoy verbal and intellectual games, team sports contests and a mishmash of challenging and exciting activities such as juggling, painting, modelling and even puppet theatre. Activities vary from site to site, tailored to the intellectual and physical needs of the children they reach.
By making families stronger, we are ensuring more children grow up with a chance of success, helping families break the cycle of poverty and build a bright and prosperous future.
Here comes the Playbus!
When the Playbus arrived to deliver books to children, pupils in Bogor came running out to investigate the strange vehicle parked near their school. When they realised it was a mobile library, their excitement was matched only by their anxiety that it would be the only time it would visit. They were overjoyed to learn that the bus would be returning regularly to bring their favourite books within reach.
Not only does the Playbus act as a mobile library in Bogor, it also provides educational activities to stimulate and engage. Raden Ayu Kartini is a national heroine who fought for women’s rights in Indonesia. She is celebrated annually on Kartini Day, and this year, the children were asked to judge a traditional dress competition for preschool pupils at a nearby village.
Before the Playbus came, children rarely had the opportunity to experience the pleasure of reading. Parents and teachers are equally delighted with the new worlds reading has opened up to these children. “They are more meticulous in their schoolwork because they are able to read more fluently,” said one parent.
One of the teachers could express her appreciation only in praise. “I am really thankful to SOS Children’s Villages” she said.