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!
In East Java, our Community Development Program helps women and their families facing poverty and systematic prostitution. A major part of that program is encouraging the strength of the families in this community. To that goal we host several major events for families, including a recent Thanksgiving feast.
About 200 kids, moms, dad, grandmas, and grandpa's from the cemetery community joined us thi year. Women from the community provided desserts to top off the catered feast. Teens and kids provided full entertainment. They performed flawless magic routines, recited original poetry pieces, belted out duets and boy band specials both in english and Indonesian AND DANCED AND DANCED AND DANCED.
The community chose "Be thankful in all Circumstances" as the theme of the evening. The focus was on celebrating the gift of rich friendship we share with the community there.
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