His mind was tired from too little sleep, his head itchy with a stomach that was groaning from barely enough to eat. As far as his home was concerned, he was just a number.
This can be a common description of many youths in Indonesia’s orphanages and childcare institutions. And from this, we see how wellness can be a relative term. For many of us, achieving a state of wellness can be met through a soothing spa session or a morning of yoga along the beach. We are fortunate to have the ‘basics’ covered. But when the basics are barely met, it is difficult to reach the next levels of development: learning retention, confidence, and pride in one’s self.
Indonesia has around 8,000 childcare institutions, housing up to 500,000 children, 85% of whom have at least one living parent who cannot care for them. This is NOT the child’s fault, yet they bear the brunt of these circumstances. Many of these institutions are privately owned/operated and do not necessarily come under any type of government supervision or monitoring. The task of parenting these children falls, therefore, primarily to caregivers, who are often overworked, underpaid and virtually untrained. As a result, many institutionalised children in Indonesia have received inadequate care preventing them from developing well (emotionally and physically) or eventually contributing to their society near their full potential.
This is where ReAct comes in, to work with the caregivers and children in these institutions. ReAct’s unique angle is to provide training and mentoring to caregivers and social workers in childcare institutions and orphanages. In doing so, ReAct impacts three categories of stakeholders: children, caregivers and parents. This helps caregivers build the confidence, skills and knowledge (good nutrition and first aid, for example) to provide better care to institutionalised children. The children in turn, exude greater confidence and are seen to be empowered to eventually punch above their circumstances.
Most recently, ReAct hosted more than 140 caregivers from across Bali’s orphanages for a two-day training event to cover many hard and soft skills required for effective care. This covered topics such as how to instil a growth mindset into the kids and how to properly recognise and deal with attachment and bonding disorders experienced when being separated from or losing their families. Some of the caregivers attended these workshops in the past, and it was moving to see how their confidence grew from their previous training.
This training was followed, on the third day, by a Career Fair for 250 youths who will soon graduate from high school and be required to leave their orphanages. Although this might sound like a recipe for a chaotic and pandemonium-filled day, it was in fact delightful to see how well behaved and attentive they were, despite some rising as early as 4 am to travel all the way to Sanur. They were broken into smaller groups that rotated amongst 15 professionals (hotel manager, teacher, musician, nurse, police officer, photographer, etc.) who shared insights into their respective professions, the training required, and potential apprenticeships/internships. Then, interspersed within these rotations were skills-building sessions covering resume/CV preparation, how to search for a job, preparing one’s self (grooming and appearance), preparing for the initial interview and more. It was truly inspiring to see their individual desires and attraction to certain professions. At the very end of the day, the kids were allowed to visit (or re-visit) their favourite professional. When all the groups settled down there was only one young girl who chose to re-visit the Lawyer. She asked such serious, sincere and in-depth questions of this professional that we all wondered afterwards if fast forwarding 10 years from now, would we see her working within the legal profession? Only time and attention to good care will tell…
ReAct is proud to be celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2013. To support or get involved with ReAct’s initiatives in Bali and in other parts of Indonesia, contact Dan Gedal at [email protected]