Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Early Childhood Development : A Fair Chance for All

By Sun Wook Jung, Education Officer

Meeting teachers at the Puspa Hati ECD Centre, Surabaya. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015

I was a ‘drop-out’ of my kindergarten in Korea many years ago. I would always fight with the boys and one day just decided to stop going. But I did well in my education so went on to underestimate the value of Early Childhood Development (ECD).

However, I realise now that I was so lucky to have a mother who read me books and taught me how to count. So, even though I dropped out of the Kindergarten, I did get appropriate early childhood education at home.  This is not the case for many children around the world, especially children who are in marginalised and poor families in Indonesia.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Young Indonesians (creatively) prepare for disaster

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

Junior Secondary School students at an Adolescent Kit for Expression and Innovation Workshop. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

A classroom in East Jakarta is buzzing with activity. Around 20 adolescents are drawing all sorts of words, shapes and patterns on large white sheets of paper. It’s a lively atmosphere but the topic couldn’t be more serious: the next devastating flood.

Jakarta is well-known for its severe seasonal flooding. And the areas in the eastern part of the city often bear the brunt each wet season. Most adolescents at this workshop have a collection of painful stories about the floods. Some have even faced near-death experiences.

“I was in a very serious flood back in 2007,” explains 14-year-old participant Vicka, “It was late at night, around 2am, when the flood happened. In no time the water was up to the ceiling. It was dark and my whole family was very afraid.”

“My dad calmed us down and took us onto the roof where he called for help. Eventually a lifeboat came. We all had to jump onto in from the roof. I was scared but luckily we were all ok. The craziest part was that my mum was very pregnant at the time. She ended up giving birth to my sister the next day."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Today a student, tomorrow a bride

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

Girls in the village of Manggaru* are at risk of child marriage. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker.

Fourteen-year-old Nira* was a bright student. She always worked hard and received good grades – excelling in subjects that ranged from art to science to cultural studies. But Nira’s time at school just came to an abrupt end. Because tomorrow is her wedding day.

Nira lives in the village of Manggaru. It’s a small, rural community around 70km south of Jakarta. Child marriage is common in this village. In fact, Nira is the third student to leave school and get married this year.

“I like to play petak umpet (hide and seek),” says Nira, when asked to describe herself. She seems resolute about the wedding. “If I wait until graduating to get married, my spouse will not be available anymore. It would be too long for the groom to wait,” she says.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The story of Safira and Ali: Two unaccompanied children holding each other tight

By Kinanti Pinta Karana 

Safira, 8, at a temporary shelter for Myanmar Rohingya refugees in Kuala Cangkoy, North Aceh. She is one of more than 345 unaccompanied children in the refugee shelter who were part of a group of refugees that arrived in North Aceh on 10 May, 2015. (©UNICEFIndonesia/2015/Kinanti Pinta Karana). 

Kuala Cangkoy, Aceh province, INDONESIA - A field of dry grass greets me as I arrive at the fish port in Kuala Cangkoy, where 576 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar found temporary shelter after being rescued from the boat that also carried a group of Bangladeshi migrants off the Aceh waters on May 10.

Next to the tents and some medium-sized buildings, a number of cows roam the field, some gauge the trash pile looking for food.

On my way to a hall that has been converted into a sleeping quarter for male refugees I have to be careful, trying not to step on cow dung. The hall is empty because the male occupants are preparing for Friday prayer.

And then I hear a child’s laughter. I turn around and see a little girl putting biscuits on the face of a boy who is sleeping next to her.

Her name is Safira (names changed). She is eight years old and a world away from the life she deserves. The little boy is her brother Ali. He is 10.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Rohingya Sisters: Leaving Home for a Better Future

By Kinanti Pinta Karana 

From left to right: Seemal*, 13; Alma*, 14 and Mira*, 15. The three Rohingya sisters were put on a boat by their parents to save them from rape and other forms of injustice in their home country. They currently stay in Kuala Langsa temporary shelter in East Aceh, where the photo was taken. (© UNICEF Indonesia / 2015 / Kinanti Pinta Karana)

Langsa, INDONESIA, 25 May 2015 - It is almost midday when I finally arrive at the compound in Langsa that has become a temporary home for some of the refugees and migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Between 10 and 20 May, a total of 1,829 boat people from the two countries have managed to reach the shores of Aceh and North Sumatra provinces, in West Indonesia. Among them are 599 children, including 345 unaccompanied minors.

They braved the perilous sea journey from their respective home countries some of them fleeing persecution and discrimination, others to escape poverty. Many more are still stranded at sea.

As I make my way into the women’s and children’s barrack, I see three adolescent girls clinging together in one corner of the room. I smile at them and they shyly smile back. Only later I realize how precious that smile was, considering the ordeal they had gone through at sea.

“My name is Mira*, I am 15 years old. These are my sisters Alma* who is 14, and Seemal*. She is 13,” the oldest girl explains.