“There are children raised in sorrow,
on a scorched and barren plain
There are children raised beneath the golden sun
There are children of the water, children of the sand
And they cry out through the universe, their voices raised as one
I want to live,
I want to grow
I want to see,
I want to know
I want to share, what I can give
I want to be, I want to live”
(taken from the song “I Want to Live” by John Denver)
Like other developing countries, Indonesia has had recent success achieving economic growth but so, unfortunately, is poverty. Indonesia still faces increasingly complex development challenges and poverty is still a dominant factor hampering Indonesia’s efforts to improve the well being of its people, especially the children.
There are many dimensions of poverty as they affect children, therefore, it is difficult to compress into a single measure. UNICEF recently funded an empirical study by University of Bristol and the London School of Economics that looked at seven aspects of severe deprivation as they affect children in developing countries: adequate food, safe drinking water, decent sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. The study concluded that over 1 billion children-more than half the children in developing countries-suffer from at least one form of severe deprivation. This is what we call children poverty.
In my beloved country, Indonesia-here we still find the children poverty in many places. This children here experience poverty as an environment that is damaging to their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual development.
I will bring you to travel to Jakarta, the capital and largest city in Indonesia. Jakarta is a huge, sprawling, metropolis and home to 9 million people. During the day the number increases with another 2 million as commuters make their way to work in the city, and flock out again in the evenings.
Let’s take a closer look to this wonderful city.
Jakarta is a city that could offer almost anything you want! It is an ever dynamic city, a city that never sleeps. As some part of it rested, rapid development march on under the accompanying moonlight.
Jakarta is the country’s economic, cultural and political center. It is the most populous city in Indonesia and in Southeast Asia, and is the tenth-largest city in the world. Jakarta’s economy depends heavily on financial service, trade, and manufacturing. Industry includes electronics, automotive, chemicals, mechanical engineering and biomedical sciences manufacturing.
In big cities, like Jakarta, you will find a very diverse life style. There are many rich people, but at the same time there are poor people too. Here you can find many luxurious shopping mall, skyscrapers and big houses which may be more expensive than houses in Beverly Hills.
But in the other side of the city, you also can find the slum areas or the homeless people live on the street. It is very common here in Jakarta you can see the million dollar homes sit side-by-side with hovels, or in street intersection you will see the luxurious cars on the street and beggars going from car to car begging for money, or children as a street singer and shoe cleaner, simply just asking for money. It is the two sides of a coin that defines most developing countries, so does Indonesia.
The government has been trying to clean up some of these neighborhoods, but merely kicking the poor out is not the answer. To truly help slum dwellers improve their lives they must be given the right tools. This is a long-term process, but it is not impossible.
To start with, the government and private organizations must work harder to provide proper education for the children who live in these slums. Many smaller projects are currently underway, some led and funded by individuals, while others are funded and run by NGOs, but more can and should be done to help educate and equip these children for productive lives outside the slum.
Short of drastic action, according to the UN Habitat report, the world slum population will probably grow by six million people each year, thus widening the urban divide between rich and poor even further. Indonesia will continue to be a significant part of this trend unless we begin immediately to tackle the problem at its roots. It might take 50 years, but if we put in the right policies and foundations today, we can look forward to a day when slums no longer exist. So there will be, still, millions of children in Indonesia miss out on their childhood as a result of poverty.
Children experience poverty with their hands, minds and hearts. Poverty deprives them of the capabilities needed to survive, develop and thrive. It prevents them from enjoying equal opportunities. It makes children more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, violence, discrimination and stigmatization.
Since investment in children is the key factor in poverty reduction and economic growth in a nation, the reason for investing in the human potential of poor children are both compelling and self-evident, especially in my country, Indonesia.
It becomes my dream that someday I could contribute to invest in the poor children in Indonesia, especially trough education. Maybe it is such ‘a road less travel by’ but I am sure, no matter how big or small the steps I took in this path, it will make all the difference… toward poverty reduction.
“We are standing all together
Face to face and arm in arm
We are standing on the threshold of a dream
No more hunger no more killing
No more wasting life away
It is simply an idea
And I know the time has come
I want to live I want to grow
I want to see I want to know
I want to share what I can give
I want to be I want to live”
( “I Want to Live-John Denver)
Clearing Indonesia’s Slums through Education
Poverty in Indonesia
Childhood under Threat. The State of the World Children 2005. Defining Child Poverty.
Story of Indonesia. Every picture tells a story.