In our Christmas letter of 2006, we told you that the children of the SOS Children’s Village Flores, including its Youth Community, had their first workshop on writing skills and that, consequently, the Village’s wall journal had been revived. Since then, they have been exercising writing, in particular as a follow-up of the National Children’s Congress 2008, when there was a workshop on writing especially for the educational staff. This way, the educators were better equipped to motivate and guide the children to express their thoughts and feelings clearly, correctly, and creatively in the Indonesian language. Both girls and boys like to communicate their feelings in poems. They are also encouraged to word their opinion and to write short stories about ordinary experiences, for instance about their weekly outings to one of the lovely beaches (the photo for our Village sponsors was taken on such an occasion). They still collate their work and put it up as a wall journal, together with drawings and photos. Clearly, our endeavours to improve the children’s writing skills are not in vain. We can prove it, too!
When a popular children’s magazine arranged a writing competition for elementary school students of the whole country, an SOS child, was among the winners! The subject, My Food, My Healthy Food was to draw attention to the value of traditional local food, in view of globalization invading every realm of life. Subsequently, the boy was blessed with a unique experience, as he won a ticket to attend a five-day conference on the same subject in Jakarta. So, last October this grade-6-student, accompanied by an educator, was the youngest ever of SOS Flores’ children to board a plane! Small wonder that the whole family of House 4, that is Mother Lina and seven siblings, saw him off at the airport. It was quite a journey; the first leg was Maumere-Kupang – yes, they had to travel to the southeast first although their destination was northwest! The good thing was, they could meet a number of the Village’s university students in Kupang and stay overnight with some of them. Early next morning, they continued their flight via Surabaya to Jakarta, where they met the other conference delegates, 36 children selected from all over Indonesia. These were soon separated from their escorts – in most cases a parent – and had to stay in a different hotel. (For most of the time, the escorts had their own program, like visiting a project for organic gardening. Sure, the parents, too, had to understand the importance of healthy food, if the aim of the conference was to be achieved!)
The children’s activities took place in different locations. They had a tight schedule with lectures on food hygiene as well as on healthy nutrition and even experimented at a food laboratory. They also visited a factory. In the wood belonging to the Center for International Forest Research in Bogor they had to find plants and fruits that could be processed into food. They had been trained in discussion techniques and were to make use of these in the discussions following the outings. Besides, the children were proud to meet a number of public figures, like a former Minster of Research and Technology, a popular guitarist, and others. Seso, as our little hero was called in Jakarta (the name meaning, ‘he who arranges’ in the local dialect) is a calm and responsible yet adventurous boy, originating from a remote village in Flores. Nevertheless, he could adapt well to the changing situations and to his peers. At the closing ceremony, after the children’s conference declaration was read out, Seso was the one chosen to have a medal placed around his neck on behalf of his fellow-delegates. After the official part was over, the children were invited to Jakarta’s Fantasy World in Ancol’s seaside amusement park. When crossing an artificial lake in a boat, Seso asked the young man in charge to jump into the water with him. He was not afraid, Seso said, because at SOS Flores they would swim in the sea every Thursday. The young man talked him out by explaining that the lake was not as clean as the sea at Flores. (He didn’t mention, though, that in Jakarta, it is not common to jump into the water in your ordinary clothes…)
Dear Friends, although our story relates the experiences of one boy only, let’s not underestimate the positive influence Seso’s success has on his SOS brothers and sisters and the motivation it may inspire; for their brother stood his ground in the metropolis most of them only know from television!
On behalf of young and old at SOS Flores, we at the National Office thank you for all your kindness during the past year and wish you and your family a Joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year.
SOS DESA TARUNA INDONESIA
Gregor H. Nitihardjo