For Jakarta’s Underprivileged Children, Sahabat Anak Insists the Sky Is the Limit

By webadmin on 09:25 am Jun 05, 2012
Category Archive

Thomas Roberson

Every child has a dream. Whether it is becoming president or playing football for Barcelona, many dreams are big, but no dream is ever too small.

A few weeks ago, volunteers at Sahabat Anak, an organization that teaches English and fosters a can-do attitude among marginalized children in Jakarta, asked the kids what their dreams were and what careers they hoped to have when they grew up.

Many of the students dreamed of becoming doctors, some wanted to be chefs and one boy even wanted to be an architect. All noble goals to be sure, but the dream of two young girls really caught the attention of the volunteers. Melli and Anissa, both age 12, told the volunteers that they wanted to be flight attendants, so they could travel a lot and see the world. Not an everyday aspiration, but one that intrigued the volunteers so much that they had asked international airline AirAsia if it could lend a few flight attendants to come and speak with the kids.

Air Asia was kind enough to agree, and on Saturday two flight attendants attended class. Made Indrawati and Andri Saputra came to Sahabat Anak in their full uniforms, surprising Melli, Anissa, and 20 other kids age 10 to 18.

“It was a memorable day for me,” Andri said. “It was the first time I’d met the kids from Sahabat Anak. The most important thing for me was meeting the kids — it was so inspiring. As flight attendants, our job is to be fun and friendly, and spending time with the kids from Sahabat Anak today inspires us to keep being fun and friendly.”

Made and Andri spoke with the kids for more than an hour and a half about what it takes to be a flight attendant and what it’s like to travel the world, answering questions and explaining the ins and outs of life in the skies.

“Sharing with the kids and hearing their dreams was amazing,” Made said. “These kids we met today — Annisa, Melli, Muji, Asep, Jiwo, all the kids — they all have dreams. Hopefully they learned a little something from us; we definitely learned something from them.”

The Grogol, West Jakarta-based Sahabat Anak and its volunteers are dedicated to helping the poor children of Jakarta reach their fullest potential. But the biggest obstacle is not a lack of money or education, it’s attitude. “ Tidak bisa ” (“I can’t”) is endemic among the lowest rungs of society. And it is a falsehood. Every child has the opportunity to live out a dream, no matter what their circumstances.

Just donating money will never be enough. The children of Jakarta need your time.

Two hours every week can change the life of a kid who lives under a bridge, or begs and busks on the dangerous streets of Jakarta. Don’t pity them, empower them. In the face of great adversity, no task is ever too big or too small. Anyone can help. Just ask the people at AirAsia, or anyone else who donates their time volunteering.

Count Me In is a volunteer initiative created by BeritaSatu Media Holdings that aims to connect like-minded people with meaningful causes in Jakarta and across Indonesia. For more information, visit thejakartaglobe.com/pages/countmein or follow @CountMeInID on Twitter.