Indonesia has followed suit with the rest of the world and has shut down all non-essential business and travel. Both of our drop-in centers will be closed in compliance with the government’s mandate. While this will protect our staff, it will not protect the community. The neighborhood is a very “stacked-up” population. If one person gets sick, it is likely to spread very quickly. At that, many of the women we serve are undiagnosed HIV positive. Our experience is that when someone gets sick, the results can be devastating. It has us asking God - and asking everyone else to ask God - to protect these precious women and children during this fragile time.
With COVID-19 safety precautions in place, the fragile economy of the cemetery community is beginning to suffer. Motorbike taxi service, grave maintenance, and other respectable opportunities for income have decreased by 50 percent. Daily necessities are becoming a struggle for some families to afford. Within the Yellow Flower Community, there are four districts with an estimated 130 families per district totaling over 520 families. We are estimating 77% of families per district are in desperate need of food and basic necessities.
CF is engaging a temporary food program to secure food for families during this ongoing crisis. All food distribution will be case-managed and temporary with a secondary focus toward economic opportunity as restrictions are lifted. All community development staff members will be assigned to this project for the duration of this crisis as well as assigned assistance from other operations.
Even amidst this difficult time, we are celebrating the incredible milestones of children who have fought hard for a different life trajectory than they have known - two young women are graduating vocational high school and enrolling in university. They have yet to bump up against the boundaries of their potential and we are beyond proud of them.
Thank you for your continued support as Compassion First staff help families navigate this difficult season and keep children safe from exploitation by mitigating food insecurity. We are sincerely grateful.
As you know, our Community Development project has focused on an impoverished community scratching together a living amid one of Indonesia's largest cemeteries. We have helped them created new job opportunities, allowed the children to attend school, created community centers nearby to serve their needs and offer classes for new life skills. It has been an amazing process to share with these families that we have fallen in love with.
And things just keep getting sweeter! Thanks to your continued support they have been able to offer two fun new developments: a line of gourmet baked goods and desserts in Yellow Flower Collection (the retail line started by a coalition of the women in the community), and a performing arts program at our Community Center that the kids absolutely love!
Thank you for continuing to serve this beautiful community with us!
One of the foundational principals in our partnership with the community at the Yellow Flower Cemetery is to trust in their incredible capabilities. We learned early on that they don't need handouts and photo ops. They don't need a white knight to ride in and save the day. Even though they live in poverty and are systematically subjugated, they are strong. They are survivors. And at the end of the day, what they need most is someone to support them, someone to believe in them. What they need most is what you and I need most, someone to love them and to fight for what's best for them.
That's why we focus on working side-by-side with these friends of ours to support and encourage long-term opportunites for them. And even though this is was an early lesson for us, we continue to be surprsied with what they can do. Like Ruth's Boutique - a retail service selling items handmade by the women - which was conceived of and created by the community and which, with the support of our network, is now selling items all over the world with online partners like 139Made.
Another example is the veracity with which the children have tackled their new educational opportunities, children whom many in their city would discredit. Children like Rico, who recently graduated from vocational school to become a mechanic and who is considered by his peers and teachers as a respected leader with a bright future!
This inspirational community has faced more challenges than most of us can imagine. And yet, with a little help from their friends, they're finding a new way forward. We can't wait to see what they do next!
The community we serve in East Java fights against severe poverty in a place where economic opportunities are very scarce. From the beginning we have recognized this as a principal obstacle to their development as a community and a major contributor to their subjugation. It's why we have worked hard over the years to help them find new paths to economic freedom. But poverty is a complex, systemic issue that extends far beyond East Java.
It's for this reason that we have partnered with like-minded organizations through the Accord Network to petition Congress to continue to support and fund the Poverty-Focused Development Assistance, a federal funding program that helps organizations like ours that fight poverty. This important fund allows many excellent organizations around the globe to do what we do in East Java. It's a source of pride that our government supports missions like ours aimed at making the world a better place for everyone, and we want that support to continue.
If you would like to sign the petition, please see the link below.
Last month we hosted our annual Family Camp for the community we work with in East Java. When we first began working with this community, we asked them what their biggest need was, what they most wanted from us. Their reply was, "We want to have healthier family relationships." Given the fact that they live in abject poverty and systemic persecution, this was an unexpected and eye-opening response for our team. But it also humanized them. Who among us doesn't want a better family relationship? A healthy, loving family is a basic human need and something everybody wants more of.
So, we started putting on annual Family Camps focused on fun family outings - usually at the nearby water park - and workshops on how to build healthier families. It has become one of our favorite events of the year, and a highlight for the community we serve. And this year was no different. Dozens of children and parents joined us for a day of fun and family development including communication skills, the importance of honesty, and conflict resolution. We brought a team from the U.S. to facilitate and everyone in attendance had a blast! We can't wait for next year!
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