Giving Back to the Community

As I mentioned last week, I�d like to get involved in helping out by giving back to a local orphanage. There are millions of Indonesians living in sheer poverty in conditions most Westerners cannot begin to fathom � where do you start?

I�ve decided that if I can focus on helping one particular orphanage, I can help make a difference without facing the feeling of being utterly overwhelmed by a large charity organization. I support their efforts, but would prefer to start on a personal level, rather than simply donating money to a charity.

A bit of history � a few weeks ago, I was out taking photos on the streets of Jakarta when a young guy approached me. As foreigners are regularly approached by locals hoping to practice their English, I assumed that was his purpose. It turns out he was searching for a young autistic girl who had wandered away from an orphanage. At first, I�ll admit I was a bit skeptical � unsure if I was being asked to help �donate� money or something else to a cause I was completely unknown to. It�s natural to be a bit cautious while out on your own here � you never really know people�s intentions.

It turns out he was one of the good guys. From my broken Indonesian and his basic English, I managed to grasp that he was a university student, studying computer science and volunteering at a local orphanage. He invited me back to the community, unfortunately I had to get home, but gave him my email address and told him I promised I�d stop by soon.

About 10 days ago I decided to take him up on the offer of dropping by. So with some help of my Indonesian friends, I purchased some rice and eggs to bring to the orphanage. After a harrowing drive through the narrowest of streets, we found the place. Immediately we were welcomed inside with smiles and greetings. The community consists of around 100 children and a couple of families, all living together. The majority of the children are orphans; the others being from disadvantaged families, or with learning disabilities. The ages range from newborn to teenagers. The community also serves as soup kitchen for the homeless.

There is a wonderful courtyard that serves as a playground / park area surrounded by the dormitory, classrooms, and facilities. They have an outdoor swimming pool, and some other basic activity areas. I�ll provide photos as soon as I download them from my handphone. All in all, it was a clean and friendly environment for the children, and a place where compassion was evident in all aspects. Edit: Just found a photo gallery on their website. See it here, listed under “Foto Gallery”.

After touring the grounds, I asked what areas they need the most assistance with. I was shown to their �computer lab� � which consisted of 6 or 7 pieces of equipment that once upon a time may have resembled a computer, but are now non-working save for one. Their printers don�t work, and I believe the fastest working computer (in the administration office) was only a Pentium II. Since technology is a bit of my specialty, my mind started churning with some ideas of how to help them.

As great as it felt to donate some food to the orphanage, I realize it�s simply not enough. They�re in need of regular contributions on a larger scale than I can provide on my own. As I said, I feel that you have to start somewhere � so I�ve decided to make this particular cause my focus.

A few ideas I�ve started working on:

� Collecting food and clothing donations from the expat community
� Selling prints of my work to purchase items for the orphanage
� Finding older but working computers for their lab � local businesses?
� Utilizing the readers of this blog for help, ideas, contributions, or collaborations

I�m completely open to suggestions and creative ways of giving back to community. If anyone is interested in visiting or contacting the orphanage, I�ll gladly post their contact information and directions. I think it�d be great to pool our resources to help these children in any way possible.

Edit: Here’s the contact info:

Yayasan Amal Mulia
Proyek Pelayanan Penyantunan

Jl. Mesjid Al-Mubarok No. 16, Cipulir
Jakarta, Indonesia 12230
Tel: 62.21.723.9778

Contact the secretary at:
Dani Dharyani
Tel: 0812.932.7187

Bank Account (for donations)
Bank BNI – 0015022994

Lippo Bank Melawai – 50230402822

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  • Brandon

    By the way – sorry to be gone so long. Between work, time in the gym, and playing softball – my blog and photography have had to move down my list of priorities temporarily. I should be back on track now.

    P.S. – our softball team made it into the playoffs!

  • Stephanie

    Wow. what a fabulous idea. Have fun helping out!
    True, many Indonesians expect financial help, but there are genuinely good to honest Indonesians who sincerely could use a helping hand. Good luck.

  • So you managed to establish some stuff for them ya?? That’s fab! I hope
    you’re having fun! Most of the time, this kind of community are much more
    grateful for the human touch, the attention & affection they receive from
    outsiders, rather than the money or whatever items you bring in.

    Would you mind emailing me their address & maybe a name to get in touch with?
    I’m not sure what big contribution I can make at the moment, but will refer them
    to some people. Thanks, Brandon & good luck 😉

  • On the radio these days, I keep hearing that this-or-that organisation is accepting donations of used cars. From what I understand, the organisations may use the cars or sell them or even strip them in order to sell the used parts. I have NEVER heard of anyone in Indonesia donating cars, so perhaps this idea is not such a great one. Anyway, selamat bekerja dengan proyek ini.

  • Brandon

    Thanks Stephanie – I agree that for every bad seed, there are 10 good ones.

  • Brandon

    Ceplik – Well, I’ve managed to visit them at least and drop off a bit of food, but I feel that’s just a beginning. I also feel that if we have the ability to offer more assistance through other avenues – such as this blog, our workplaces, the expat community, etc – it’d be a great way to pool resources.

    I also agree that there’s a big difference on simply sending a check versus actually bringing something to the children. The look in their eyes and the smiles given are much more ‘real’ in person.

    Instead of emailing you the contact info, I’ve posted it on this site so that anyone may take steps to help on their own.

    If you have any ideas or resources, please feel free to contact me or stop by the orphanage if ever possible.

  • Brandon

    Ethnoscape – that sounds like a very lucrative idea, but one that may be more applicable in the States or other wealthier nations. On the other hand, there are quite a number of excessively wealthy individuals here who may enjoy the publicity from such a donation – any ideas?

    It’d be fascinating and certainly welcome if anyone could figure out how to make that work here, but I’m not crazy about giving up my 2005 Honda just quite yet. 😉

  • Brandon – this is a fantastic idea to help this orphanage out.

    Local businesses sound like a good way to help with donating old materials.

    No doubt you saw this article recently about $100 laptops? :

    Perhaps it’s also worth contacting some of the bigger tech companies that might be willing to donate some of their products. And various business councils eg American-Indonesia Business Council; Australia-Indonesia business council.

    Check out this link to Digital Aid: I don’t know much about them, but perhaps they or another similar organisation can help.

    Keep us posted on how this goes, Brandon. Nice to hear of people really getting into the spirit of giving at this time of year.

  • Brandon

    Nicole – you’re awesome!

    I agree that some local businesses may be the way to go for some of these items.

    I did see that article about the laptops, I’ve been following that a bit with this in mind. I believe they won’t be ready for a while though. It’d be great to get ‘in’ on that waiting list though!

    You’ve offered some fantastic ideas – I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. I’ll also check out Digital Aid as well.

    Here’s an excerpt from that article:

    “He plans to have millions of $100 machines in production within a year. Professor Negroponte said he had asked the most enthusiastic countries, Thailand and Brazil, not to give written commitments to buy the machines until they had seen the working model, likely to be produced in February. The laptops are powered with a wind-up crank, have very low power consumption and will let children interact with each other while learning.”

    “Every single problem you can think of, poverty, peace, the environment, is solved with education or including education,” said Professor Negroponte.

    “So when we make this available, it is an education project, not a laptop project. The digital divide is a learning divide – digital is the means through which children learn leaning. This is, we believe, the way to do it.”

  • No worries, Brandon. Always happy to try and help where it’s needed.

    You are ‘on the ground’, near people that need assistance, while I am feeling guilty sitting here with a roof over my head and air conditioning on a 30C 80% humidity Sydney afternoon.

  • nad

    congratulations on the really great idea! i’ll try to help spread the words. thanks for this great post!

  • Thx for putting up the info. I have to say the orphanage is far more established compared to some I’ve been to. I was trying to find out: do the kids all go to school (you mentioned classrooms) like regular school-age kids? Who are the teachers? Do they have volunteers for teaching?

  • sup man!

    great stuff.

    i look forward to seeing your orphange pictures up on flickr!

    oh and we are slowly getting a group together called “help people” ill send you an invite once we get moving a bit more.

    keep us posted. cant wait to see more.

    rock on.


  • AJ

    Hi Brandon, would you please email me, i might be able to give you some contact numbers.


  • Anybody know how we get an RSS feed for this blog? I am not very tech savvy and would really like to get updated info on this blog. Thanks!

  • Really amazing! Useful information. All the best.