I was so excited when I landed in Jakarta, because I didn´t know what awaited me there! Jasmin, who also worked as a volunteer at JabezKidz, picked Sarah and I from the airport. The next day we moved into our room at the JabezKidz school and got to know the children. It was a Saturday and that's generally a day where almost all the children come to JabezKidz. Overall 80 children, most of them Muslims aged 5 to 15 are at JabezKidz and so the teachers and volunteers have a lot to do. The director introduced me as "Kakak Carolin" (sister Carolin) and as I couldn´t speak any Indonesian, I tried to communicate in some ways with hands and feet and smiled at the children. I was really nervous but after I saw the light in the children eyes, my nervousness faded immediately and I looked forward to my time at JabezKidz. Classes are always from Tuesday to Saturday and Math, English, Ecology and Character building are taught. Sarah and I were flexible in our lesson planning and it was in our liberty to teach or rather to plan the activities which we wanted to do with the kids. Even before we arrived, we thought about how we can make our time useful and what we can do with the kids. As a yoga teacher, I've always wanted to do yoga with children, so I decided to teach the kids yoga and together with Jasmin English. Sarah assisted with Character building and once a week, she had a dance class. Furthermore we planned an "art workshop" and a computer course. Additionally, we prepared a sports festival, which took place at the end of our stay, created flyers for a fundraiser, we painted the classrooms, we set up the kitchen and helped at all other necessary tasks and activities. From the beginning I was really impressed that the children came two hours early to the class because they are so motivated! They look forward to be at JabezKidz, to get taught, and play with other children. Personally I was really surprised and in comparison to Germany that's a difference. In Germany you have to force the children sometimes to go to school and here everyone comes voluntarily earlier to class! When I taught the first time, I was super excited! It was my yoga class. I was concerned that there might be communication problems but then I just started to show the exercises and to explain in English. I was really scared that the kids would make fun of me or not want to take part but only after a few minutes I realized that my fears was completely needless! The children laughed, were enthusiastic and full of life and did all the exercises with motivation! The children are all so well behaved that even if once it was too loud, you just had to hold your hand up and within seconds there was silence!
After a couple of weeks passed I was asked if I could teach yoga for the mothers, and I was glad to have additional yoga classes! With the mothers, it was of course quite a bit different than with the children. I suspect the majority of women do not know sports let alone yoga, so it was something new for them! I felt also at the first time a little excitement in the room! Again I had shown all exercises and explained with fun that this is good for the "love handles" and after they all laughed, the tense situation had disappeared immediately :) The mothers were so happy at the end of the hour and so thankful. A mom had even claimed that she can feel that her love handles were already diminished ... :) I also had a lot of fun with the English class! I held this lesson together with Jasmin and we taught the children about figures, shapes, colors and many other English concepts. We practiced the spelling, writing and speaking, and it was really amazing how quickly the kids learned! When it was time to write on the board, the hands flew up, and they all wanted to come forward. They are so thirsty for knowledge. A few days after our arrival the kids lost all shyness and they came running into our room or hid in the front of our door. After a while, we had built up such a close and strong bond with the children that they hugged, drew pictures or just wanted to sit next to us and hold our hands. There were so many incredible moments and more than once I was so touched that I almost had tears! The kids are so cheerful, happy and energetic! It ranged from a little thing, and the kids were happy! No value has been placed on any great toys, once you spent time with them, the children´s eyes begin to shine! After a while our neighbors in the slum area knew us, and everyone knew that we lived and taught at the center. As soon as we walked through the streets, they called us "Kakak Carolin, Kakak Sarah, how are you?" The children came speeding and wanted to carry our bags or just chat with us. Although they were all so poor, living in a room with 5-6 people or on the street, they all were so friendly, cheerful and in good spirits, that I was impressed to see these people. People's lives played out on the streets. There slaughtered animals, plucked chicken, washed clothes and at the end of the day, eat together and discuss the day. Everyone knows each other and everyone has to do something. At first I found it strange to see guts or dead animals, but basically I was still glad that at least the people had something to eat. I have never had the feeling of being afraid or feeling insecure, even when I ran in the late evening or at night through the streets. I somehow had the feeling that I was protected by the people here as a "rich European" nothing will happen to me and somehow I "belonged to" to them now. Often, I just grabbed my camera, and then everyone just knew that the “Bule” is out with her camera and the locals came sprinted and wanted to be snapped by my camera.
The children and all residents in Jakarta actually call us "bule". Whether we took the bus or just on the streets, they were calling us "Bule, Bule". That means "White or simply foreigners, non-Asian". For many children, it was unusual to see blue eyes, white skin and blond hair, and so they took to my hair, compared their skin colors with me, or sometimes they even sniffed me :) The weeks passed so fast and my departure approached. When finally the day arrived, I was incredibly sad! The children had tinkered with Jasmin a book and each child made his own page! It was really nice what they have written, and I had tears in my eyes when I looked at it! The children had embraced me, they gave me stuffed animals, pictures and little notes with loving words. One child had even offered me a t-shirt! They hugged me and said "Kakak, I love you forever, please come back, we miss you". I actually had a lump in my throat and I was really sad to have to go and let the kids back. Nevertheless, I am happy and grateful that I was able to experience it all and I've really learned a lot and that has shaped my life!
The deep and sincere gratitude, the smile, the rays and glow in their eyes, will never be forgotton and each single child from JabezKidz is deeply enclosed in my heart.
It was truly an amazing experience and I would recommend a job as a volunteer at JabezKidz to anyone!
Since I was a little girl, I was always attracted to being active in the humanitarian work in the big world.
When I was five years old, I imagined how I would give little kids in Africa medication, and now nineteen years later, I sit in the airplane heading to Jakarta, Indonesia to work there nine months for the organization JabezKidz.
Just one meeting with a representative did it for me, no other preparation. I read a lot, I heard a lot, but can I be prepared? No. With the idea to live in third world country, I armed myself with enough Shampoo, old clothes which can be sorted out afterwards and drugs –you heard a lot; so at least I wanted to be prepared for everything.
Before I had arrived in Jakarta, I thought about how I could change the world there or how to implement my new ideas.
But once I arrived in Jakarta, I knew that it wouldn’t work out like this. I had to learn the culture first, before I could really do something there. In addition there were also the linguistic borders, which however broke quite fast. Two words (sudah= already and belom=not yet) are already enough to have a conversation for fifteen minutes. I can only suggest to everyone, to practice the “rolled” R. If not, just forget it! Jasmin: Guru Baru dating minggu depan di Jabez (a new teacher is coming next week) Kids: Apa guru baru kak Jasmin? (What does guru baru mean Kak Jasmin ?) Jasmin: Gurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrru Barrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrru (new teacher- this time with a tried-rolled R) Kids: Ohyayayayayay Gurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrru Barrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrru.
The first lesson I had to give very spontaneously, because the teacher scheduled couldn’t come. I didn’t know what age I had to teach, and I had never seen the kids before. Fortunately, there is something called Google Translator and somehow I was able to describe myself in Indonesian. When the class started, the kids carefully came to me and we tried to have a chat. Quickly I was changed in a measure of length and in turn the kids stood next to me, to see how short they are compared to me (1,74 cm).
It was the first time that Ecology was taught and it was a challenge for me, to prepare the lesson and make it interesting and understandable as possible for the kids. Theory was mixed with games and fun and I think the kids learned something. It is difficult to explain to the kids the problem of the environment, when they have never seen the interest to it. They throw everything on the streets and trash separation is a foreign word. You can hardly find public rubbish bins. Either the rubbish gets burned or they throw it in the ocean. The kids have no idols and they don’t know it better. It is pointless, to teach the kids how to separate the dust, if the rubbish collection puts everything on the same pile. The kids are curious, but it is a lot of work to explain to them, why it is important to look out for the environment in Indonesia. Next to ecology I taught English in each class. The kids not only learned Indonesian from me but I also had the chance to improve my Indonesian. In February I started a new project. I wanted to show the kids how the home from the volunteers coming to JabezKidz looks like. The center often gets international visits, but the most time the kids don’t know where the country is situated on the globe. With pictures and slideshows I tried to give the kids a first impression from the different countries. Every week we saw another country and from time to time a friend came over to introduce a new country. At the end we had always a little language session,, where the kids could learn some scraps of German, French and Spanish. After this everyone used different languages to communicate “Was machst du?”, “Gracias” and “de nada”. After Christmas I wanted to share with the kids about their holidays and just start smoothly in the New Year.
I remember that I always looked forward to it at school after the break. But at JabezKidz I was asked: Kak Jasmin, we want Ecology class. Next to the normal classes I was responsible for the new volunteers coming from Belgium and Germany. Together we tried to install a program, which the kids love and also which fits to the volunteers. I had good contact with the Belgian embassy; therefore I spontaneously took the part as representative from JabezKidz. At bazaars, charity activities and other occasions I tried to keep and to deepen the contact and I explained our mission and concept to interested people. It was exciting to work together with different cultures and people. The kids at the center are of course the heart and soul. It gave me a lot of energy and strength to feel, how much the kids love coming to JabezKidz. Indonesia has a lot to give, and it is an amazing country with a lot of possibilities. The people are so friendly and I never had the feeling of “being in danger”.
Every day is like a new Kinder-surprise, you never know what’s going to happen and this, makes it to a great adventure and a priceless experience for life.
ECOLOGY- LET‘S CLEAN THE WORLD TOGETHER!
Since the beginning of October, I, Jasmin has been teaching every Tuesday Ecology with the theme “What can we do to help our environment?“ I try to impart some sensitivity as well as critical thinking on topics such as environment, ecosystem, global warming, greenhouse effect and recycling. We analyze each topic by watching short videos, by participating in small group activities as well as by enganging in group discussions.
As my knowledge in Bahasa Indonesia is still limited, the lessons are given half in English and half in Indonesian, so the children end up not only learning about ecology, but also they extend their English vocabulary. I too benefit in class by learning Bahasa Indonesia.
The children understand the problems tackled and the goals set in our lessons. One example of which is the problem of garbage segregation. It is very hard to implement something in a country where garbage separation is still a loan word, where all the garbage is thrown on a big pile and where everything ends up in the ocean or is burned on the ground. My aim is to educate a small group of children with the hope that they would spread the word and motivate others in their community to also be environmentally friendly.