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

Usually travel agencies are able to assemble exemplary air travel deals, complete with reservations at the orlando hotel rooms as well. The hotel reservations are also a part of discount travel and you can also get a travel advisor who can explain to you in detail about the way we charge.