Monday, July 15, 2013

Ready to go back to school

By Nuraini Razak, UNICEF Indonesia

All that 11-year-old Dani wants is to go
back to school and play with his friends.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2013/Rizal
Bener Meriah – Fitra Ramadhani, or Dani as his friends call him is a cheerful 11 year-old boy who went to a local school in his village.  About to start the sixth grade, he likes to play soccer with his school friends. His village Cekal Baru was badly affected by the recent earthquake.

Dani’s father is a coffee farmer who has three children and another three other family members to take care of. His family had just barely recovered from losing his grandmother, and now the earthquake hit them.

In Aceh Tengah and Bener Meriah district, more than 372 schools have been badly damaged. The local students are anxious about their return to school, with the new school year due to start next week.

Dani's school was a quick walk from his home, but now he does not know where to go. His classroom has been destroyed.

He now spends his days at UNICEF’s temporary learning centre. His desires are modest, "Our house had been damaged, and sometimes I still think about the earthquake, but all I really want to do is to go back to school and play with my friends," he said.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

After the earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia – Putting a smile on children’s faces through learning and playing

Yusniate engages her daughter Liana
with a puzzle game inside UNICEF's
temporary learning centre.
© UNICEF Indonesia / 2013 / Juanda
BENER MERIAH, Indonesia, 9 July 2013 - "It was like kiamat, doomsday," – that’s how Yusniati (25), a coffee farmer from Serempah, Ketol, recalls what happened on 2 July when a powerful earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale ravaged villages in Bener Meriah and Aceh Tengah district in Indonesia. The quake in the province of Aceh left 39 people dead and more than 2,400 people injured.  "We were in the plantation, and we could feel the earth moving up and down.  The sound was incredibly loud," she says.

About 50,000 people from more than 12,000 households in over 70 different locations in the two districts have left their homes.  This includes families whose houses have not been damaged but who still prefer to camp outside, in fear of aftershocks.  Around one third of those affected are children, younger than 18 years of age.

“After what felt like 5 minutes of shaking, I saw friends and neighbours running around.  We saw some people trapped and crying for help.  Many people were bleeding, but we helped each other and finally we managed to move to an open space.  We were shocked and confused, and we still are," Yusniati adds.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Markus and his honai – The rough road to secondary education in Papua province

By Michael Klaus, UNICEF Indonesia

Markus left his village at the age of 14
to enroll in secondary school.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2013/Klaus
Megapura in Papua Province, Indonesia, July 2013 – It has been four years that Markus last saw his parents, and it will at least be another one until he may be able to go back home again to his village Kalbok - a 10-day walk away in the highlands of Papua province. The 18 year old is in 12th grade and he knows he would not be in school today had he stayed home. 

Markus has grown a lot during these four years, and he now is the leader of his honai in Megapura, a big traditional hut that serves as a boarding home for 50 adolescents and young adults. They all visit either a secondary school or a professional training institution in nearby Wamena, in the heart of Papua province in Indonesia’s Far East.

“The Highland districts in Papua have the worst child indicators of the whole country,” explains Margaret Sheehan, Chief of the UNICEF Field Office that covers both Papua and West Papua. More than 120 out of every 1,000 children die in their first five years of life, more than three times the national average. Only a third of the population has access to safe water and less than one in four can use a latrine.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How a volunteer is preventing violence against children at school in Central Java

Erry in one of his group discussion
sessions on violence prevention.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2012.
Preventing violence in schools is complicated and takes a strong vision, specialist knowledge, experience and patience.  UNICEF cannot do this alone and therefore works with the government and local non-government partners (NGOs). An army of volunteers is also playing a hugely important  role.

A fabulous example of this is Erry Pratama Putra – a man of 37 years from Klaten in Central Java, Indonesia. He first became involved with UNICEF six years ago, when he volunteered during the emergency response after the earthquake in Yogyakarta and Klaten.

“It is our responsibility to ensure children are fully protected from all forms of violence, whether at home, in school or in the community. I don’t have anything to offer except my heart, my soul, my mind, my spirit and my idealism to create a decent world for children as their future is entrusted to us today.”