Reading Legacy

A reading legacy for a healthy, flourishing community

Kak, can we read books now?” asked the three bright-eyed children.

Yayasan Pendar Pagi’s Kalianyar community center houses several collections of books provided by donors. The colourful books invite children take a peek and look through their pages. Seeing this happen again and again, we realize how attractive, quality books are needed by neighbourhood children.

Ironically, the children we serve live in a large city but have difficulty accessing quality books. The main reason for this is lack of awareness of the importance of reading. For parents, education is going to school or extra lessons and getting good marks. Often food and school supplies are felt to be more important than reading. This is understandable, especially for low income parents. Yet sometimes television and online games also contribute to the declining interest in reading.

YPP’s vision is for healthy, flourishing communities,  and this calls for people who are creative and well informed. What better to set children on the right path than exploring pages of brightly coloured books filled with knowledge, rich in inspiration?

Beyond all expectations, friends of YPP contributed large quantities of books in good condition, which had once belonged to their own children. Happily we were able to announce to the local kids that they would soon have their own library.

Now, twice a week the children can feast on good quality books provided by these generous donors, in an open area on Mondays and inside on Tuesdays.

One day a young mother came by, spoon feeding her two-year old daughter. Attracted by the bustle inside, she brought the child in and began reading parenting and recipe books. Soon she was followed by her husband, a newspaper seller, who read with great interest a book we gave him about entrepreneurship. In the meantime, their daughter ran back and forth to his mother for spoonfuls of food while looking with fascination at several books. The food disappeared quickly that day, said his mother!

We asked one of the regular patrons of the library, an 11 year old child, “Do you like having the library?”

“I love it!”

“Why?”

“Here I can learn so many things. And sometimes what I read shows up in my school exams!”

Two simple but encouraging stories. We hope that more and more Indonesian children and families realize how their world can be enriched with access to quality books – and that they pass on these riches all the way to their grandchildren.

Safe storage

Promoting healthy money management

A hubub of voices accompanied by jingling coins; dust and exhaust; the lingering aroma each time a motorcycle passes, following the screech of rails. “Train, train! Stop!” Residents by the railway track shout at motorcyclists wanting to cross. This is the railway’s edge near Duri Station, Kalianyar, where a handful of families find the food, clothing and shelter they need to live.

Asep Gunawan works for a cottage clothing manufacturer in Kalianyar, and on the side sorts organic and non-organic waste near the railway tracks. The 23-year-old is a member of the savings group started by the YPP community centre in Kalianyar and now managed by a local leader named Pak Ujang.

“I don’t have a bank account, but I plan to (because my savings keep growing). I used to just stash my money at home. But I started to save once we had the savings group, so I don’t use it for non-necessities. If I keep it at home, I can’t resist spending it,” Asep explains while sitting in a warung food stall at the edge of the tracks.

“I plan to use my savings for needs in the fasting month. It’s also good to be prepared for sickness,” he adds, hurrying off to work. Asep works from 8 am through 9 at night, every day.

One of the benefits of the railway savings group is that it promotes sound money management. Not all those who live by the tracks have become members; but Asep sees the benefit of the savings group not only as a means to save. He intends to open his own bank account once his balance grows larger.

Asep saves regularly, and it’s not surprising that he has the highest savings in the group. This is our hope, not only for Asep, but for all who live by the railway tracks of Kalianyar.

 

Kalianyar Community Day 2015

NEWS | Community Day 29 November 2015

Kalianyar Community Day is an annual event involving the wider Kalianyar community. On the afternoon of Sunday, 29 November 2105, YPP brought a focus on education assisted by some 20 volunteers, both from within and outside Kalianyar. Activities included colouring competitions in two categories; “keen observation” for grades 4-6; an educational campaign; garbage pickup involving local children; and, to close out the festivities, a men’s cooking competition.

Education opens doors

In the educational campaign, Mr Stuart shared that elementary school graduates earn less than junior secondary graduates, and senior high graduates earn less than those with a bachelor’s degree. This was to encourage local residents to understand the importance of formal education. YPP also shared about the benefits of acquiring informal education to equip themselves with necessary skills. The mother of Raja, the child who won first prize in the “keen observation” competition, commented, “Raja’s a smart kid, but he is shy in front of people. God willing I will do everything I can to put him through school.”

Caring for the environment, building community

YPP shared a second important lesson, love for a clean environment, by inviting the children as a group to pick up garbage the length of Kalianyar 8 Street to Kalianyar market. A local resident was impressed: “That’s excellent, teaching the kids to pick up garbage, so that they can learn about sanitation and not toss out their garbage carelessly.”

The fried rice cooking competition was a sensation! Usually it’s the women who cook, but this time we invited the men to show us what they could do. Several joined the competition to make the healthiest and tastiest fried rice. The final product was evaluated by Ibu Kafiah, chair of local neighbourhood 09: “The rice is delicious and the presentation is also good. Who would have guessed that the men could cook, too!”

bapak-bapak masak
anak-anak pungut sampah

Fried rice produced by the male chefs

Children picking up garbage on Kalianyar 8 Street

“When it rains outside, it rains inside”

When finances are tight, putting food on the table comes first and other expenses go on hold. And when things are tight for years on end, once sturdy houses can fall into perilous disrepair, with crumbling walls, gaping leaks, and structural decay threatening collapse.

So it was for three families in a Bekasi Regency village whom YPP knew through a work relationship. “When it rains outside, it also rains inside,” said Bapak Taqi, a father of five. Their neighbours across the way showed us the structural mayhem inflicted by termites.

In discussion with these families, the YPP team arranged for partial financing of home repair loans. Of the total amount available, half would be repayable in fortnightly installments, coinciding with their paydays, over a couple of years.

One of the conditions for receiving the loan was successful completion of three months of “savings” payments, in order to demonstrate their ability and commitment to making the repayments. All three families met these criteria, and the loan was released at the beginning of September 2013.

Each family decided what repairs were necessary, and within weeks all the renovations had been completed. The outcome has been overwhelmingly positive, with significant improvements to their homes being carried out efficiently and wisely.

One man dismantled his entire collapsing roof and erected a fresh, termite-free wood frame covered in durable roof-sheeting. Another thoughtfully decided to build one concrete-walled, waterproof room in the centre of his bamboo-walled house as the first part of the new home that he hopes he will eventually have.

The changes were dramatic, to our shared delight! All the more so as the months have passed: rainy seasons have brought heavy downpours and floods and the family with the new roof have stayed dry, while the family with the waterproof room have been able to take shelter with their small grandson from the knee-high floods.

One family sought supplementary loans from friends, which meant they were able to change bamboo matting for concrete breeze block walls for part of the kitchen, and replace the entranceway that was in dangerous condition. Their kitchen and bathroom still need work, but the rain doesn’t come in any more, and they are able to sleep in peace without fear of tiles falling on their heads. This is a big first step, and we hope they will do more when they can.

All the recipients of the loan have been diligent in making repayments, in one case exceeding what is required so that the loan can be repaid more quickly.