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.

 

My second home

By Randi Sanjaya

The many benefits of learning English at the English Zone

I officially became a member of the English Zone in February 2010. When I became an EZ member there were many English skills I still needed to improve. At the EZ I met with many young people from Indonesia and from other countries who loved to talk, and new friends who wanted to develop their English languge abilities. In the English Zone I meet many new people, have many close friends, and attend special events every month. Long story short, in this group we have evolved into friends, students, and siblings. I cannot say how much the EZ has shaped me into the person I am now, I am so grateful. It is a base camp where people with the motivation to learn English can gather.

Being able to speak English makes us stand out, in college, in seminars, in competitions, even in the workplace. Other opportunities surface when we have this skill. By speaking English we are able to access and understand information more quickly, communicate globally, and make friends. Many members have been able to travel to other countries because they enjoy speaking English and are able to do so well.

Personally, I was fortunate to be able to speak in English while I was in university. I could understand English books, I succeeded in campus competitions because of my English presentations, and I got an internship at one of the largest energy companies in the world.

The benefit that now makes me so grateful that I came to the English Zone was when I graduated from college and began looking for a job. Since my goal was to find a job in a multinational company, I applied to several. Being able to speak English in interviews was a great benefit, because it was a requirement for these positions. I passed screening interviews from two multinational companies and was able to move forward to the next selection process.

EZ is my second home, and it will always be home for me.

I want to be well

Ibu Haria’s story

My name is Ibu Haria. I am 39 years old and I live in the village of Teluk Kanidai. I suffered from cataracts starting in 2012. Because of my illness, I had trouble working and I was restricted in my everyday activities. The drop in my income significantly affected my family. Normally, I worked in a plantation and I tapped rubber trees, but it became too difficult.

Frightening stories

I had heard that cataracts can be fixed with an operation, but there were many terrible stories circulating from another village about the procedure. They said that your eyes would be removed from their sockets and that the “grey area” would be scraped away until it was gone. After this, the eye would be cleansed with water and then placed back in the socket. They even said that the eye would be totally soaked with water and scrubbed clean before being put back.

I heard stories like this very often and it traumatized me. I decided that I would rather not have this surgery since it made me very afraid. Just the thought of it gave me the shivers! It sounded horrible.

Beginning to feel safe

All of this changed when the team from YPP came to my house. They explained the way cataract surgery  actually works, and it was totally different from way I had been hearing! They reassured me that this was a minor, safe operation and that I did not need to be afraid. Finally, after quickly praying for God’s blessing, I agreed to be helped by YPP and undergo the operation.

Right now, thanks be to Allah, I am able to see clearly and go about my regular activities. I am able to work in my rubber plantation again and I help my husband support our family. Thank you Allah, and thank you YPP.

Different – but gifted

Tapping young potential in the Creative Club

Kak, I’ll leave Septian with you okay? People say he’s autistic, but I’ve checked with a psychologist and he says he’s fine.” So it was when Septian first joined the Creative Club, brought by his mother.

From the outside Septian looks just like other kids, and mentally he is well developed; in fact he’s quite intelligent. But difficulties in communicating and expressing his feelings have made other kids reluctant to befriend him.

Now Septian has joined drawing lessons at the Creative Club in Kalianyar, West Jakarta. He’s happy to be in every class – he’s never late and he never misses a meeting.

“Oh yes, he likes to draw, Kak,” says his mother. “He always asked me to teach him, but, you know, I can’t draw. So I asked all over where I could find someone who could teach drawing. What do you know – I found it here, Sis. Praise God, Septian says he feels comfortable and likes it here.” We give thanks because children in the club have opened their hearts and accepted Septian. They often joke around, although sometimes Septian’s sensitive feelings make the other kids feel he’s a bit different.

Septian is representative of several children with special needs from low income families that YPP has come to know in the area. Working with special needs children calls for extra hard work, but YPP believes every child is God’s creation with the right to be loved, grow and become self reliant.

 

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

The best place to learn English

By Sugiono

Fifth semester student at Riau Islamic University

Learning English means having to speak

The English Zone is the best English Language program I have ever joined. Your ability to speak clearly in English is the main priority when learning in this program. It is emphasized that each member must have the ability to discuss common issues. Many people have the ability to read or write in English, but the clarity of their pronunciation is neglected. To address this problem, members are only allowed to speak English while on English Zone property. Inevitably, their English language skills grow over time.

The mentors and teachers in this place come directly from America, UK, Australia, Germany, and other countries so that the members learn how native speakers communicate in English. The native speakers also teach English pronunciation so that common pronunciation errors are addressed. Discussion groups are held every day focusing on topics about current events and culture. These discussions are interspersed with games, ice breakers, and other activities to encourage members in learning English.

Benefiting international and local communities.

Because of their English-speaking abilities, many English Zone members have joined student exchange programs with a variety of nations in Asia, Europe, America, and Australia. I myself joined a student exchange program in Japan, thanks to the English Zone program. I learned about this exchange program while at the English Zone, and was eventually accepted into the program based on the English skills I had developed as a result of being a member.

To  become a member you only need to offer a donation, and there are always discussion groups and pronunciation labs 4 days a week. Because of this, I am a faithful member. The more often I attend the English Zone, the more I practice and the more I improve. The English Zone is the best place to learn to speak English.

Are we learning today, Ma’am?

Dreams become possible in the village with a passion to learn

Teluk Kanidai is a village located on the outskirts of the city of Pekanbaru, in the Kampar District. In this community live dozens of children and teenagers who don’t understand the importance of education, or have the motivation to learn.

In the past, members of this community were not interested in education because they did not believe it could actually improve their lives. Sometimes parents even forbade their children from going to school. They believed it was better to work and to make money immediately than to go to school. In their experience, life only changed with hard work as laborers or plantation workers. Many families in this area still hold to this idea.

But things are beginning to change. For example, one child has a dream of becoming a police officer. He is incredibly motivated and passionate about learning. Every time we come to the village he runs to the teachers in excitement, asking “Are we learning today, Ma’am?” His mother supports him, too. She sits and waits for him to finish class and sometimes she even helps us.

After attending several sessions put on by YPP about motivating one’s children to study, parents in this village are more enthusiastic to send their children to school. YPP hopes to help these families further their understanding about education. Right now many are already showing more interest in their childrens’ education. They know that their children are the leaders of tomorrow and have the ability to move Teluk Kanidai towards a better future.

“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.