Showing Kids a Way Forward

JAKARTA, Indonesia. The Jakarta Globe. October 10, 2013. (English) by Olga Amato. –Every child has a dream. As adults, it is our job to support children to achieve those dreams. When it comes to cancer and underprivileged children, it is even more important to give them the confidence that they have the same rights to aim high and think creatively about their future.

With the goal of encouraging children with cancer from Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital, Jakarta and underprivileged children from Rumah Baca Fwe to chase their dreams, Count Me In along with 10 enthusiastic volunteers, recently teamed up with Blue Bird and KidZania Jakarta to introduce the kids to a morning of education and entertainment.

Located at Pacific Place and modeled after a real city, KidZania Jakarta opened its doors to the 55 intrepid learners, giving them the chance to have a real profession for a day. The children enthusiastically got a taste of the adult world as they were invited to fly a plane, simulate an arrest and stage fashion shows.

“Since I was little my dream has always been to become a fire fighter,” said Fadhlan Agung Abdillah, who participates in the English lessons provided to him and other underprivileged kids in the area of Benhil from Rumah Baca Fwe.

“Never in my life I could imagine to get the opportunity to personally try to experience my dream job. Today at KidZania Jakarta I was wearing firefighter clothes and I stopped a fire.”

The 12-year-old explained that his dream was drawn from a reality that he wanted to stop himself in the future.

“In the area where I live I often see houses burning in front of my eyes. That makes me want to become a firefighter to help people around me. This opportunity at Kidzania is giving me more spirit in trying harder to become what I want. I will keep studying to pursue what I want,” Fadhlan said.

Fadhlan, a 7th-grader at SMPN 181 in Tanah Abang, is the youngest of five siblings. His father has died while his mother sells bubur (traditional porridge) on the street. His story demonstrates the economic situation of most of the children attending the free weekend English classes at Rumah Baca Fwe.

Founder Nila Sari explained that no matter what kind of family background the kids had, it was very important to encourage them to find their interests and hidden talents.

“Rumah Baca Fwe encourages all its children to aim at a better future,” Nila said. “They have no excuses not to pursue their dreams. Chances like today are a motivation for them to keep studying to be able to get the job they want.”

Meanwhile, Endang Suharyanti, whose daughter has been battling leukemia for 10 years, agreed that no matter what situation children were in, they had to learn to be independent.

“My daughter was diagnosed with cancer when she was three,” Endang said. “She has spent a very big part of her life at Cipto hospital for treatments. Twice a week we still have to go to Cipto for chemotherapy. Her situation doesn’t allow her to go to school everyday like the other kids. But the message I want to deliver to her is that her disease shouldn’t be a barrier for her to move forward and keep trying to pursue her dreams. I hope occasions like today at KidZania help her to understand how important it is to be able to stand on your own.”

Count Me In volunteer Nicola Menda described her time spent with the kids as something more precious than simply donating money to charity.

“If we spend time with the kids we realize how much they appreciate it, because they can personally see us,” Nicola explained. “We can personally interact with them and encourage them in getting what they want in their life. They really need people around them that care about them.”

KidZania Jakarta key account executive Muhamad Yusuf said his company felt good about providing a space for the program.

“We are happy to give to those children the chance to come to KidZania,” Yusuf said. “Our hope is that children walk away with a more concrete feel of the job that before they could only imagine about. This can be an anticipation to their future careers.”

At the same time, Blue Bird CSR representative Nova Hapsari Yudhopurwono emphasized the importance of making small moves to keep motivating these children.

“To keep coming up with educational events is the key in opening the minds of the kids,” Nova said. “This is a motivation for us to carry on organizing other activities in the future.”

Children’s aims might change with the time passing, but it’s important they keep dreaming and learning in order to find their real passions.

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