Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Launch of the Integrated Child and Family Welfare Services – A Dream Coming True

By Astrid Gonzaga Dionisio, Child Protection Specialist

Vice Mayor of Tulungagung (sixth from the right) with the Vice Chairperson of the Parliament (third from the left) and heads of agencies (from Left: Head of Women Empowerment, Child Protection and Family Planning; Head of Bappeda; Chairperson of East Java Provincial LPA; Head of Sub-Directorate for Neglected Children, Directorate of Child Welfare, the Ministry of Social Affairs; Director of Public Hospital; Astrid Dionisio – Child Protection Specialist and I Made Sutama, Child of Field Office from UNICEF; Head of Social Welfare Office; and Secretary of the local Government of Tulungagung. © UNICEF/2015/Astrid Dionisio

I have been to Tulungagung in East Java before. But this time, the excitement of my trip has been different. It was like a dream come true.

Developing a child protection system was once a big dream. Figuring it out was already complicated but not until recently when the district of Tulungagung, East Java, has finally launched the first model of an integrated child and family welfare services - the Unit Layanan Terpadu Perlindungan Sosial Anak Integratif (PSAI).  The road was not smooth, and the journey was long. Tulungagung is one of the districts in East Java  known to be one of the major sending areas for female migrant workers, commonly referred to as "buruh migran perempuan."

In 2011, UNICEF Indonesia embraced a new approach to child protection focusing on system building. From then on UNICEF together with the Ministry of Planning (Bappenas) and the Ministry of Social Affairs initiated processes toward developing a comprehensive child protection system locally known as SPA (Sistem Perlindungan Anak).

Monday, 18 January 2016

Out of School: Student Absenteeism in Papua

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer 

Teo faces an uncertain future. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

It’s Monday morning at 8am in the Papuan village of Poumako. As a brass bell rings, groups of children emerge from their houses and begin the walk to class. But not Teo – the nine year old isn’t going to school today. He actually rarely does.

Teo’s story is common around his village and across Papua province. This area is one of Indonesia’s poorest and most isolated in the far east of the country. These conditions see countless children drop out of school to help support their families. Instead of pencils and books, many children here are more familiar with hammers and shovels.

“I sometimes work at the harbor,” Teo says. There is a large harbor a few kilometers from his village which services the region. Children like Teo are able to make a few extra rupiah by loading and unloading the ships that regularly dock there. “I carry things like furniture, cement and rice," he says, “These usually weight 15-25 kilos.”

Friday, 15 January 2016

Learning to Read, Write and Succeed: UNICEF’s Literacy Work in Papua.

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer 

Kristopher is improving his literacy. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

“Please write down your name,” a group of primary students are asked in Poumako, Papua, in the far east of Indonesia. It seems like an easy task. Some in the remote village school take out their pen and slowly begin. But some find it almost impossible.

Second-grade student Kristopher is one child who struggles. He takes his time, has a number of attempts and then stops. “It’s hard,” he says.

Kristopher is like many young students across Tanah Papua which includes the provinces of Papua and West Papua. They belong to the group of about 87 percent of early grade students in rural and remote areas that are either non-readers or readers with limited comprehension.

And for children like Kristopher – not having this basic skill will severely impact the rest of their life.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Preaching About Poo: Open Defecation in Sumba

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

Reverend Charles Detha educates villagers on an uncomfortable topic. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

A local pastor in Kadahang village, Sumba (NTT) is about to make the most unlikely of sermons. Today, Reverend Charles Detha won’t talk to his congregation about chastity or charity. Instead, he will talk about defecating.

Indonesia is in the grips of an open defecation crisis. More than 51 million people do not use a toilet. This is the second highest number in the world after India. The effect on communities and particularly on children is severe – with the practice resulting in a raft of health problems.

The island of Sumba is greatly affected by this crisis. And an issue of such scale requires innovative solutions. So UNICEF is working directly with religious leaders in this particularly devout region to help get the message out.

“We now know that open defecation is dangerous for the health of children,” says Reverend Charles, who has been participating in programmes facilitated by UNICEF that aim to put an end to open defecation. “It can give them all sorts of diseases. So we must get involved, we must speak up.”

Monday, 4 January 2016

Building Toilets, Saving Lives

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

Vikensa Hamakonda’s future is a little brighter. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

Ten-month-old Vikensa Hamakonda looks curiously at the latest addition to his family home. It’s an outdoor toilet built from bamboo and tin. But this simple structure may end up saving Vikensa’s life.

On the island of Sumba (NTT), open defecation has been an accepted practice for as long as most people here can remember. Unbeknownst to many, this is endangering the lives of countless children in the region.

The pathogens from faeces left in the open can easily enter a community’s food and water chain. This leads to a raft of health problems, which particularly affect children.

Around Sumba there are stories of young children dying from diarrhea  – which can be caused by poor sanitation.  It also impacts on their growth as poor sanitation is linked to high rates of malnutrition.

UNICEF is supporting a number of programmes to end open defecation in Sumba. One of these is helping local health workers to hold “triggering sessions”. Triggering sessions are health and sanitation workshops that are conducted in individual villages. They involve dramatic demonstrations of how faeces in the open can make children sick.

A triggering session was recently held at Vikensa’s village. His father, Letu, attended. “It was a very powerful experience,” he says. “I learnt how germs from faeces from outside my house could get back into my family’s food.” The final message was simple: build and use a toilet.

The event had a lasting impact on Letu. Previously, his family would defecate in a small area behind their house. But not anymore. Letu has built a toilet. And many other villagers are doing the same.

This means that children like Vikensa will help get the best possible start to life.