Attendance, diligence and effort – star qualities
In Manggarai on the afternoon of Mother’s Day, 22 December, on a quiet street in a public hall there is a lot of noise. It is rowdy with the noise of marginalized children preparing for a bazaar and performances for their end of year celebration.
Mother’s Day goes largely unnoticed in Indonesia. There is no equivalent day for fathers. The children of Manggarai are aware of it has been their learning theme for December — mother. They have drawn pictures, created pieces of glittery artwork, written stories and poems during the month which are on display for the patrons of the afternoon to view.During the year the children from two venues in Manggarai have accumulated points for attendance, diligence and effort in the classes they attend with Sahabat Anak. Friday night classes are for English lessons only and are held in a multipurpose room the other side of the train station.
Sunday and Monday classes have a range of subjects for the children. All the children have points to spend. The points are represented by stars.
There are over 30 dedicated volunteers, young professionals, helping out the children and the young families of this community. Some of the volunteers are the same age as the parents of these children. A visual representation of life path differences.
The children get to cash in their points for items at the bazaar. A backpack is worth 13 stars. There is much excitement as the children go in class groups to select their rewards.
The volunteer teachers start the performance session of the afternoon’s activities with a dance. The kids are riveted watching their teachers. This display gives them confidence to get up in front of an audience to perform when it is their turn. There are nine performances to follow.
The Friday night classes that focus on English put on two of those performances. The first is from the class of smaller children singing ‘You are my sunshine’ and the larger children recite a poem called Mother and sing a song also.
There is a mask wearing dance performance from the Orange Class, and the Banana Class is a set of 13 girls dressed as pink dancing mice. A choir of little cherubs sings also. After all of the children’s performance the teachers head back to the dance floor singing a song especially for the children and hand out flowers.
Some children hadn’t spent all their star points so more shopping had to be finalized before the event was finished.
One of the children in the audience was an older boy, maybe 14 or 15. He is a boy that has been through this system going to the same weekend classes as the children that now attend. A couple of years ago, he was sponsored to attend Sahabat Anak’s non-formal school in Pegangsaan. He wasn’t attending school as he was needed to help out with a growing family. He had been out of the school system for five years.
From the non-formal school he made his way back to the formal schooling system with the assistance of Sahabat Anak. Getting back into the school system is a significant milestone but not the end of the road.
He still comes from a marginalized family with younger siblings who now attend the tutorial lessons. He still attends extra curricula activities that he enrolled in with SahabatAnak before getting back into school. So, he is still a part of the Sahabat Anak family, under their care until such time as he secures the job he can get as an adult with the skills he has accumulated or he no longer needs the assistance.
He sits and cheers on the children with their recitals and performances. He encourages his younger siblings, you can do that too.
His presence is a layer of reassurance and confirmation that things can work out for the best when you have star qualities such as diligence and effort.