This letter at the end of summer will provide you with news from the SOS Children’s Village Semarang. We will include information from last year that we received after the deadline for our Christmas letter.
On 30 October, the SOS Village organized the 10th Global Peace Games for Children and Youth. They succeeded in getting various groups interested, like the local department of the Education Ministry, so that it turned out to be an impressive event, involving 22 schools with 220 students plus 30 school directors and teachers, as well as a children’s group, and a number of sponsors. The event took place in our own football field and at the pavilion, but matches were also taking place in the field opposite the gate. Visitors crowded the Village since early morning; we were glad, therefore, that independent children helped with the organization. But even the little ones were involved: The kindergarten’s Marching Band livened up the opening ceremony with its defile. After the purpose of the Global Peace Games was explained, 416 children and youth (including 56 from our Family Strengthening Programme and 60 from the neighbourhood) made the pledge as defined in the Manifesto for Peace. Then all of them put their signature under the Manifesto. By doing so, they promised to respect all life; reject violence; share with others; listen in order to understand; take good care of Planet Earth; and contribute to society.
Another interesting initiative of SOS Semarang last year was a mini-seminar they arranged for the leaders and educators of the orphanages in the city. The seminar, which took place at a hotel, was made possible through the support of friends and companies who care about children. The subject was, Building the Character of Educators to Serve the Children with their Heart. The speaker was an experienced educator of our Village.
Last August, during Ramadan, the Muslim families in our Village community were observing the fast and the traditions connected to it. Even the younger ones were eager to join their siblings and over the years, they gradually learn to control hunger and thirst, with the sympathetic support of their families. The Mothers have to get up in the night to prepare the meal the family takes some time before dawn. In the beginning of the month, it is hard to wake the children and persuade them to eat. However, if they miss this sahur meal, they will not be able to persevere until sunset. The younger kids normally break their fast at noon. As Ramadan wears on, body and mind will adjust to the new schedule, as they have their usual three meals plus snacks, only the timing differs. The first week, there is no school and then, classes start late. What makes Ramadan and the Idul Fitri holidays at the end of it special, are prayers and rituals at the Village or at the mosque – as well as special food. An important feature of Idul Fitri is the tradition of visiting relatives, teachers, and neighbours and begging their forgiveness. (Christian children likewise take pleasure in making such visits, because by doing so, they get a share of the festive meals and exquisite snacks!)
By now, life is back to normal. Children, mothers and staff of SOS Semarang say “thank you” and send warm greetings to their Friends, wherever they may be!
SOS Children’s Villages Indonesia
Gregor H. Nitihardjo