In 2020, we worked on building relationships with key community leaders and community members in the second cemetery community in East Java. We visited families, brought some educational programming for the children, and have worked to help provide some food aid during the global pandemic. We have identified 10 children that are in need of economic aid to continue attending school and have begun connecting with their families.
In January 2021, we hired a new case manager to help support families and children in the new cemetery community and help begin to develop relationships and build out our support for vulnerable mothers and children. We are excited to continue to build new relationships and see how we can partner with and support this new community!
2020 has brought opportunity for new depths of resilience discovery in all of us. I’m not sure challenges make us stronger as much as awaken dormant strength that’s already there.
Every year through friendship, entrepreneurship, and education opportunities, we have historically served about 50 families living in East Java cemeteries. Then COVID-19 came and things changed. Since the lock-down restrictions this spring, we have served 450 more through relief food distribution. Keeping in step with government regulations and social distancing measures, CF centers in East Java are actively engaging teens in the cemetery through one-to-one mentoring and small group academic sessions.
In addition to food and supplies, our team has been distributing activity packets to children in lock-down conditions throughout cemetery communities in East Java. Sometimes it’s the little things. Thank you for your on-going support of this very vulnerable and resilient community.
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!
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