Home shelter struggles to improve street kids’ changes


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Making his own bed: Twelve-year-old street singer Nanang is tidying up his bed in the Ciliwung shelter in Manggarai, South Jakarta, before going for work. (JP/Utami Diah Kusumawati)

Twelve-year old Nanang looked quite timid and hid in his 4 square meter room when new people visited him at the Ciliwung home shelter in Manggarai, South Jakarta, on Monday.

He came out from his small room awkwardly after his caretaker, M. Hafidzudien, a social worker from the Jakarta Social Affairs Agency, called him.

“What are you doing, Nanang?” Hafidzudien asked the boy, who answered that he was planning to go to work that evening. The boy said that he preferred working to going to school.

“I get Rp 200,000 [US$21] per day from street singing and taking a car ride (joki) for payment,” he said smiling, adding that by working he could help his parents make a living.

In fact, Nanang is merely one of many street children who refuse to go to school and prefer to work in the street. According to the data from the Jakarta Social Affairs Agency, there were 7,315 street children in Greater Jakarta in 2012. They worked as shoe polishers, street singers, beggars and itinerant traders without ever going to school.

In 2010, the government tried to reduce the number of street children by introducing Child Social Welfare and Joint Enterprise Group programs for both street children and their parents. Under the programs, the government provided financial support for street children’s education and for their parents.

To implement the programs, the government cooperated with non-profit organizations for children’s social welfare and home shelter foundations.

“The government, represented by the agency, provided the financial support for the children and their parents through the organizations and foundations,” Hafidzudien told The Jakarta Post on Monday, adding that each of the children received a savings account worth Rp 1.5 million for schooling per year and 
his/her parents Rp 1 million for doing business.

According to the chairman of the Communication Forum of Jakarta Home Shelters, Agusman, 23 home shelters and seven non-profit organizations took care of 6,818 street children in 2012.

The programs, however, did not run very well as many of the street children preferred to skip school for work, he said.

The director of the Indonesian Street Children Organization, Meriah Tinambunan, said that only four out of 40 street children assisted by the foundation in 1999 had graduated from senior high schools, while the other 36 preferred to work.

“It is very hard to prevent them from going back to the street,” she said.

The problem, she said, was with the parents. Most of them did not want their children to go to school because their income depended on the children.

“By working, the children can earn up to Rp 200,000 per day. So, they order their children to work for them,” she said, adding that the government’s programs, therefore, could not solve their problems.

Meriah said that to make the parents aware of the possibility of improvement of their future welfare, her organization had established a parenting communication forum to educate them on the importance of education for the children and making a change in their paradigm of parenting responsibility.

“We have given them understanding that children are not allowed to work and it is the parents who should go to work,” she said.

Meanwhile, Anwar, the staff member of the Ciliwung home shelter said that many of the street children were not interested to come to his shelter.

“We have difficulties in bringing street children to the home shelter. Only a few of them come to the training that we organize,” he said, adding that the shelter lacked human resources to go to the street children’s houses and to organize training for them.

Hafidzudien, who assisted at the Ciliwung home shelter, agreed on that matter. He acknowledged that his agency provided only a small number of social workers to assist the street children in Jakarta.

“My partner and I take care of 238 street children in areas like Blok M, Mampang, Manggarai and Fatmawati, all in South Jakarta. It is too much, actually,” he said. (tam)

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