A Bag For A Friend
What is the most common answer given by volunteers when asked, “What encouraged you to join Sahabat Anak?” Most of them will give a short answer, “I wanted to share something with the kids”.
Yes, this spirit to share with the children is the unifier of the Sahabat Anak Movement. A movement which has attracted more than 700 active volunteers – who serve and mentor almost 800 marginalized children in Jakarta, including street children. This movement has continued to grow and evolve since it was first initiated in 1997 through the Street Children Jamboree.
The question now is, “where did this sharing spirit come from?”
There are a variety of experiences that serve as motivation for people to join Sahabat Anak. One volunteer was motivated by an experience he had with a teacher who was willing to pay for his tuition arrears. The kindness of his teacher, who the volunteer describes as a role model and a life savior, was the trigger for his sharing spirit. It has been the volunteer’s life principle ever since, and has lead him to form a strong bond with Sahabat Anak.
The sharing spirit can also be passed on by small actions. One volunteer always remembers the kindness of his Junior High School librarian, who allowed him to borrow more books during each exam term than he was technically allowed. His family could never have afforded to buy the books due to their financial circumstances. It is clear that the sharing spirit can be motivated by a single event or numerous events, a small act of kindness or a large one, the giving of money or the giving of time.
Just like the kindness of the teacher and the librarian, the Sahabat Anak Movement has also helped spread and nurture the sharing spirit. As a result, Sahabat Anak has been able to help and support tutorial children like Rohanita, a former tutorial kid from Prumpung, and Nining Maida, a former tutorial kid from Tanah Abang, attend college. Importantly the kindness shown by Sahabat Anak volunteers has also fostered a new sharing spirit; it has motivated the tutorial children to pass on the baton by mentoring the younger kids in their tutorial areas.
A Bag For A Friend, a program to distribute bags (backpacks) to children living in the far corners of this country, is a means by which this sharing spirit can be spread even more widely. The Sahabat Anak Movement no longer belongs exclusively to Sahabat Anak Community; it is a collective movement which aims to unite the various social organizations for children across the country. Today the Sahabat Anak movement has reached as far as Malang, Aceh, Lombok, Sulawesi, and Papua.
Those of us who live in the city may consider one bag with school supplies as being quite a small thing – but this is not the case for children who live in remote areas. We believe that, through this program, the inspiration of this sharing movement will continue to bloom; starting from small things.