The Eldest is Now Becoming Independent
Sahabat Anak (SA) Prumpung was born as one of the follow-up activities of the Street Children Jamboree in 1999. The initial hope was that establishing a tutorial class in the packed slum area in East Jakarta would encourage regular meetings between the volunteers and the children, and provide a place for knowledge transfer. At the same time, volunteers, children, as well as their parents could get to know one another better. As a result of the tutorial class, FRIENDSHIP was deeply knitted.
SA Prumpung is often called “The Eldest” because it is considered Sahabat Anak’s first tutorial area. SA Prumpung has also frequently been a pioneer in many activities. Programs and volunteers were spread and shared throughout the other tutorial areas after first being “tested” in Prumpung.
It all started with only 20 children, which gradually grew into 250 children – whose parents were street vendors, labourers, toy sellers, and street food sellers. Eventually their once-a-week tutorial schedule became more intensive with classes being held five times a week.
The tutorial programs also became more varied. During each annual evaluation new programs were initiated either by the volunteers or the kids. The kids’ thirst for education kept driving the spirit of the volunteers to transfer their knowledge and experience.
The challenge often faced by SA Prumpung was the turnover of the volunteers. Most of the volunteers were full-time professionals and the schedule of tutorial programs, which were usually held on weeknights (7 – 9 PM), was a challenge. However this did not stop their enthusiasm to meet and teach the kids. Starting with only one tutorial class, they continued establishing new programs; they had skills and language classes and they also opened a library. The library was a response to the kids’ request for access to books that were not merely school books.
The programs were mostly initiated by the SA Prumpung kids themselves. The ideas were generated through quality time spent by the kids with the volunteers. The volunteers helped and guided the kids to discover the things they really wanted. The library was one of the favourite programs of the volunteers and kids. It all started when one of the volunteers who loved to read brought some of her book collections in and started to read them to the kids. With a help from a friend they finally bought one small plastic container filled with books. It became the first collection of books at Sahabat Anak Prumpung. That one small container has now grown into one reading house with books, new and used, which were donated by many friends – schools, local communities and other organisations.
Besides the library, SA Prumpung also has a Gerobak Pintar (Smart Cart), which is a small cart filled with books that is pushed around the village to target other children who have not yet been reached by Sahabat Anak.
Throughout the 15 years of Sahabat Anak Prumpung’s existence a large number of children become role models for Sahabat Anak’s other tutorial areas. Many of us knew, deep in our minds, that one day they would become leaders. We knew that regeneration would carry on, slowly but surely. We knew that one day Sahabat Anak would hand over all the activities to the Prumpung Community to manage independently.
And now the time has finally come. SA Prumpung has grown, become an adult, and allowed the former tutorial kids to take over the administration.
Throughout the last three years, ever since the tutorial teenagers were given the opportunity to become the
administrators, the handover process has been smooth, with the main message being “keep the room clean and tidy.”
It has been a challenge for Sahabat Anak, as a “parent”, to let this “oldest kid” go in terms of the administration, funding, and other technical things. It was not easy because Sahabat Anak has a very strong bond with the kids. However, the longing to see Prumpung be independent was strong. We knew that giving the community the change to take part in raising their own kids was something that we should do.
In sum, (Sahabat Anak) Prumpung is now no longer attached, as an organisation, with Sahabat Anak. The relationship has changed – from Prumpung being a member to being a partner. However there will still be some collaboration programs between the two independent organisations. Both groups will continue to support each other.
Let’s support this small step that we have taken towards the maturing of the Prumpung Community.
Farewell, the Eldest….
Dear Prumpungers : Be well, do good work, and keep in touch. ~Garrison Keillor