Orphans in Indonesia

Peregrina's Journey
Peter and Margie Benziger
Sun 31 Jul 2011 14:23
Position Report - 10:09.375S  123:34.454E

Orphans in Indonesia
Margie and I were lucky to grow up with two loving parents and our daughters have had the “dubious” pleasure of our company for 30 years now.   The word “orphan” doesn’t pop up much in middle-class American conversation.   But, that’s not the case in most of the rest of the world as we found out recently.

Peregrina is now in Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia. While ashore, we met Alfredo (English translation of his Indonesian name) who runs an orphanage named ‘Sesawi Panti Asuhan.’  We arranged to travel the next day with him to the orphanage.

This is the main entrance to the orphanage. It is about an hour outside of Kupang, in a very rural area accessible via a dirt road.  

This is Alfredo and his aunt, who is the head manager. The orphanage was started by Alfredo’s father many, many years ago.  He grew up without parents and knew the pain and hardship of life as an orphan and vowed he would do everything he could to help others who were in the same position.

While a number of the kids were left here by parents who simply could not afford to feed them, surprisingly, most of the children at Sesawi Panti Asuhan were orphaned because of water-related accidents.  Many of their parents drowned in boating/fishing accidents and some in catastrophic cyclones (hurricanes) or typhoons.  It’s amazing that, in this island nation surrounded by water, many people don’t know to swim! 

Over the course of the past 28 years, Alfredo’s family has taken in hundreds of children and, currently, there are 92 kids - newborns to age thirteen - at the orphanage in buildings located on land leased from the local government.

The older children attend public school but the pre-school kids go to school operated by the orphanage which is very small and with almost no educational books or visual aids. We visited the school for the younger kids, which is located several kilometers from the orphanage on another plot of leased land. Because it is quite a distance from the orphanage, the kids have to be taken by multiple motorbike trips (three kids plus the driver!) back and forth each day.

The kids had not seen Westerners close up but, after the initial shyness wore off, they became intrigued and friendly. We practiced our Indonesian phrases and it was pretty clear that our pronunciation was terrible since they would just giggle when we talked.

This is the boys’ room. They sleep three boys to each bed but there still are not enough beds.  Some children do have to sleep on the floor but they seemed to have additional mattresses piled up in a corner.

This is where the food is prepared. The food is very basic with rice and root vegetables, such as cassava, being the staple items.

This is the cooking shack. Cooking is done over open fires.
The government provides 2,500 Rph per month per child which is about $3.00. This does not begin to cover the cost so the orphanage grows their own food in gardens and rice fields. The kids wake at 4:00am to begin their day of work and school.

This is the toilet for the orphanage. There is no roof so if it is raining and nature calls, I guess you gottago...

Prior to leaving Australia we went to several stores and thrift shops and bought clothes, toys, school supplies and silly gifts to give away while cruising throughout Indonesia.  We took a couple of bags to the orphanage.  The looks on their faces when they received these gifts was priceless.  You truly get more than you give…
One of the biggest hits was the balloons which we blew up for them. We started a game where the balloon had to be kept in the air and each time you hit it you had to give a big yell. It went on and on and on...

The children sang and danced traditional folk music for us and at the end of the program they belted out a rousing version of the Indonesian national anthem.

We had a wonderful time and hope that the kids did too.

Sukses ya!        (All the best)
Semoga bias cepat bertemu lagi          (Hope to see you again soon)

Peter and Margie