Things in Jakarta are going better than ever before! In the last four months, things have been so busy I haven’t been able to find time to update the blog. Despite the lack of communication, we’ve had many wonderful things happening.
In the end of May, I performed at Yayasan Emmanuel’s annual gathering. Almost 2,000 children attended the event and it was a blast. The event was a celebration for all of the children that are supported by Yayasan Emmanuel’s orphanages and tutoring centers. They enjoyed a day of outdoor games and live entertainment on the stage. It was really nice having the opportunity to participate in such a great event.
When I returned to Jakarta in the end of July, I came back with a new focused plan here in Jakarta. We’ve increased the number of visits per week to Cilincing. We now visit Cilincing Wednesday and Friday. We’ve also finally added our English lesson component to the project. The kids now enjoy 2 hours of circus training followed by two hours of English lessons. We’re lucky to have another new member to the Hidung Merah Circus team, Deddy Purwadi. Deddy is a phenomenal mentor and English teacher for the kids. They have absolutely fallen in love with him and its great to have him around to help.
After our second class of English lessons, several things became blatantly obvious to me. Many of the students don’t know how to read. Some of them have been out of school for two or three years. I have one girl, who dropped out of school after grade 1. She can’t read or write and can’t even tell time from a standard clock.
The same day that I began to realize the serious lack of education these children were getting, I was approached by one of my middle school aged girls. She came to me after class crying, saying that this would be her last circus lesson and that she’d miss me a lot. When I ask her why, she shyly said that she had to return to the kampung to live with her grandparents. I ask her why again and she responded that her parents could not afford to pay the fees for middles school, so she’d have to return home and help care for her grandparents. I told Ondeng, to give me two days before she returned home. I told her, I wasn’t sure what I could do, if anything at all. But, please give me two days to figure out a solution. On the way home from Cilincing, I made a few calls and was able to come up with the funds for her schooling. The total cost for her to go to school for an entire year was US$165.
I returned to Cilincing the next day and went straight to the middle school that she was supposed to be attending. I spoke with the principal, who was reluctant to allow her to join, because she’d already missed 4 weeks of class. I gave him my word that I’d help catch her up with what she missed out on. I also told him that I’d need to receive monthly reports on her attendance, grades, class participation and behavior. We both agreed and I went to share the good news with Ondeng. Before we agreed to sponsor her school, I explained that her parents would have to take responsibility for financing her school as well. If they couldn’t afford the entire US$5 per month, how much could they honestly afford? Ondeng’s mother said that she could handle paying US$2 per month. This was my way of empowering her family to be part in educating there daughter, as well as making sure they were invested in her making it to class on time every day. They were all shocked that someone they didn’t even know was willing to sponsor her to go to school. We went to the local market and bought her the appropriate uniforms, school supplies and then to the school to register her for class. She began the next Monday and when I saw her on Wednesday, she was so happy to be able to continue her education.
This situation with one of my students got me thinking. Why can’t all of the kids go to school? Why does one kids deserve to go to school more than the others. In class, I asked the children to give me details on there schooling, if they were still in school. What grade, how many times they’d failed (if at all), times they had class, school name. During the circus portion of our class, I gathered the students who no longer went to school and asked them if they wanted to return to school. Almost all of the students wanted to go to school, but they were afraid to ask their parents for the money.
I returned to Cilincing the next day and gathered all the mothers and children in one house and laid everything out on the table for them. I explained to them, that we didn’t have endless funds, however I would work my hardest to find as much funds as we needed. This being said, I explained that I was not yet equipped to “make there lives easier” by paying for all the school fees. I told them that I could only help with what they honestly couldn’t afford. I said this to everyone in a large group, so that they would feel obligated to tell the truth. And they did. One mother was just so grateful that I had “convinced” her child to return to school. She said, they could handle the school fees them selves, they just couldn’t convince him to go to school. I offered to go to school with her and talk with the principal, to ensure that he would accept the child’s late registration. He did.
From this meeting, we registered two more kids in middle school. We have three more students who want to go to school, with permission from their parents, and now its just a matter of finding a school who’ll allow them to join the school year late. It’s proving harder than you’d think. But we’re working on it still!
Our Sunday performance troupe at JIS is going strong and the kids are making amazing improvements! They are working hard and learning skills that I never imagined they’d be working on so soon. The first few weeks, the KDM kids weren’t able to join us, because of other obligations and it was great to see how much the Cilincing kids were longing to see their older circus partners. They’ve really begun to build a strong bond and it makes me very happy to watch.
We had a great benefit performance last week, starring some very talented and popular Indonesian musicians. It was really wonderful to see how many people were interested in performing for free in celebration and in hopes of raising funds to support our project here in Jakarta.
Things continue to roll faster and faster every day. With the acceleration of events and plans in the field, comes of course the added need for financial support. If you or your organization would be interested in helping to sponsor any of our projects here in Jakarta please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org