Mama Marta (in photo), as she’s often referred to, has been a teacher at SD Masehi Katura, Letekonda Village, Southwest Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) for 11 years. The elementary school, which was founded in 1982, now has 158 students enrolled. Unfortunately, reading ability of children at the school is still quite low. Literacy in NTT in general is still low compared to the national standards.
The province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) ranks third for the highest illiteracy rate among 34 provinces in Indonesia. The latest data from the Central Statistics Agency of NTT showed that 7% of population aged 10 years and older is illiterate (BPS NTT, November 2019), compared to 2% nationally. In Southwest Sumba Regency of NTT the figure is even more pronounced at over 17%.
Improving literacy is an urgent need in order to improve the quality of human resources in the region and this has become a homework for Marta and her colleagues. This task is not easy and one that is not to be burdened by teachers alone.
The support that Marta and her students have received from Happy Hearts Indonesia's #iamchange campaign in the past few years has made her optimistic. After previously receiving support in the form of two new classrooms with proper furniture and toilets as well as training programs, SD Masehi Katura has also been equipped with a library.
Starting in late 2019, Happy Hearts Indonesia provided extended support for the three libraries built in Southwest Sumba including the one at SD Masehi Katura. In collaboration with Taman Baca Inovator, these libraries are supplied with more books, librarian training program and related activities such as reading club and English Language class that attract more students to visit the library.
"Our students have become much more excited with the addition of new books and literacy-related activities as seen in their frequent attendance at the library. As a second-grade teacher, I find the library helpful. The books, the new ones with illustrations, help our students practice their reading and comprehension," explained Mama Marta. Albina, a sixth-grader who often spends her time at the library, echoes the sentiment, "I don't have novels at home, so I like to visit the library to read a variety of stories."
Seeing the enthusiasm of students in preferring to stay at the library during recess and after school, Marta is convinced that soon, reading ability of her students would equal the national standards. She knows that creating change takes time and is not easy. However, with the support from Happy Hearts Indonesia and its partners and donors, she is witnessing a positive change in the lives of her students one day at a time.
We have just completed the rebuilding of 2 schools in East Nusa Tenggara, with 3 more that are almost completed. Thank you for your support!
A Little Goes A Long Way
One of our programs supported by monthly giving is Happy Kids. Through Happy Kids, schoolchildren receive uniforms at the beginning of each academic year, nutritious meals 3 times a week, health examination twice a year, as well as a monthly activity to teach them about the environment.
Bila (in photo) is a student at PAUD Pelita Kasih, a preschool we rebuilt in Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara, where Happy Kids program is running. Bila and his two younger sisters (twin) who also go to Pelita Kasih, live with their uncle not far from the school. With a mother who left home, a father being migrant worker and an uncle who works all the time, Bila needs to care for his sisters. Early every morning Bila and his sisters would go to the school principal’s house, next to the school to have breakfast and use the bathroom to shower. They will then wait for other children to arrive.
Bila and his sisters depend on nutritious meals provided at the school through Happy Kids program. These meals are usually simple: rice with spinach soup and tempeh, sandwich with milk, or mung bean porridge. Nevertheless, to some children at the school, this simple meal might be their only meal of the day. A little goes a long way. For Bila, on good days when there is leftover side dish, he would cook rice so he and his sisters could have lunch after school. Otherwise, they would change their uniforms and go back to school to play in the playground.
Your monthly giving makes a difference for children like Bila and his sisters. Give monthly today and get your donation matched by GlobalGiving. A little goes a long way.
As we're closing 2019, we're thankful for your support. This year we rebuilt 26 schools in East Nusa Tenggara, making a total of 57 rebuilt schools in the province since 2016. Thank you!
Setting a Path of Change Out of Poverty
In September we visited schools that have been rebuilt in West Sumba regency in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. One of the seven schools rebuilt is PAUD (abbreviation for Early Childhood Education) Palu Boga. We decided to check in on Maikel, one of the students at the preschool whom we met in 2017, back when we were solidifying our plans to focus rebuilding efforts in the province.
Not far from the school, we saw a humble Sumbanese stilt house where Maikel and his family lived. Maikel was on the way home from school and his father welcomed us warmly into their home, "He just moved up to third grade. He will be home soon." Shortly after, Maikel walked into the courtyard of the house. Smiling faintly, he greeted us Selamat Siang – meaning good afternoon – while we were sitting on the porch of the house with his father, grandmother, and two younger siblings.
It was great to see Maikel in his red and white, a typical uniform worn by elementary school students in Indonesia. We remembered Maikel as the five-year-old little boy in a preschool uniform, which was more than two years ago. Today, Maikel stood tall at the age of eight. He timidly kissed the hands of everyone on the porch - a form of respect to the elders - and then kissed his sister's forehead before removing his backpack and joining us.
After changing clothes and finishing lunch, Maikel took out a book and slowly read a poem he found on a page. There were times when he stopped and seemed to second guess himself in pronouncing certain words, but he would then proceed with a little nudge from his father.
In West Sumba, where 14% of male above 10 years old could not read and write, Maikel's reading and writing ability at his age made us full of hope. We could see that changes were taking place and hope was being restored for the next generation of East Nusa Tenggara.
We asked Maikel on his impression of elementary school, to which he replied that he liked it very much, especially the subjects of Mathematics and Indonesian Language. Ms. Lusia, a teacher from PAUD Palu Boga, who accompanied us that afternoon said, “Teachers from elementary schools told us that our graduates showed great adaptability. They are more familiar with letters, numbers, colors and shapes compared to children from other preschools.” She also iterated that graduates of PAUD Palu Boga were more socially developed because they were used to interacting with teachers and peers and not clinging to their parents, which immensely helped the process of adaptation.
"We are grateful to have a proper preschool close to where we live. Our children learned a lot and the early childhood education prepared them before advancing to elementary school," said Maikel's father.
Maikel set a path of change for his younger siblings. His brother Yohanis, who was also a graduate of PAUD Palu Boga, just entered first grade in the same elementary school. His four-year-old sister had just joined PAUD Palu Boga. His family stayed hopeful that education would lift them out of poverty. That hope was clearly seen in the eyes of his father and grandmother that afternoon as he read the poem. Maikel’s dream remained the same as two years ago, which was to become a police officer.
Below is the first verse of the poem that Maikel read.
Aku suka ke sekolah, (I like going to school)
Banyak teman-temanku, (Many are my friends)
Waktu belajar atau main, (During study or play time)
Guru ada dekatku. (A teacher is by my side)
Since our last report we completed the rebuilding of 9 schools, making a total of 36 rebuilt schools in East Nusa Tenggara since the start of #iamchange campaign in March 2018. Below are 3 of those 9 schools.
We rely on your support in raising awareness and funds for safe schools in East Nusa Tenggara. Help share our campaign to your family and friends by starting a fundraiser. Thank you!
Since our last report, we completed the rebuilding of 6 schools, making the total of 27 schools rebuilt in East Nusa Tenggara. Over 250 schoolchildren are now going to safe schools with proper facilities, thanks to your support!
Two more schools for Sumba and 3 schools for West Timor are currently in progress, including Bakti Luhur Paulus Janssen school for children with disability, which is scheduled to finish in August.
In addition to school rebuilding, we also provided WASH training at additional 7 schools. WASH or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene training is crucial for young children to develop good hygiene practices at school and in their homes.
Promoting Reading Culture in Sumba
The library initiative is part of our community development program that we started last year. It aims to spark reading habit not only in children but also in the communities where the libraries are located.
Access to reading materials, especially in rural Sumba, is very lacking. The community libraries we built and located in 3 different villages are now equipped with donated books for all ages. We see children and adults getting excited with reading; girls in particular make up 60% of the readers. These community libraries are a start in combating illiteracy on the island, which is one of the highest in the country.
We are gearing up to rebuilding more schools in East Nusa Tenggara for the second half of the year. We thank you for your continuous support to our #iamchange campaign.
About East Nusa Tenggara
Also known locally as Nusa Tenggara Timur or simply NTT, East Nusa Tenggara located in East Indonesia is the third poorest region in the country. Happy Hearts Indonesia began rebuilding schools in the region in 2016. The great need of decent and safe schools urged us to focus on East Nusa Tenggara and rebuild more schools, and in 2018 we launched the #iamchange campaign that aims to rebuild 200 schools in East Nusa Tenggara over the next few years.
Since the launch of the campaign in March 2018, we have rebuilt 21 schools, serving 1,438 children and supporting 7,190 community members on the islands of Sumba, Flores and Timor.
After schools are rebuilt, Happy Hearts Indonesia also provide the following programs.
School Management & Teacher Training - in collaboration with several organizations, we facilitated a number of school management and capacity building training for teachers in the areas of our rebuilt schools.
Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Training - to encourage good hygiene behavior in the schools we rebuilt.
Happy Kids - to improve student achievement at rebuilt schools. The Happy Kids program provides:
Community Development Program - we built mobile libraries not just for children of our rebuilt schools, but also for members of the community.
Quotes from Our Beneficiaries
"Our school is much better now! We have a lot of toys, that's why we love to go to school." – Irene, student of PAUD Mawar Laensukaer, Timor
"The children are now a lot more excited when they come to school. The classrooms are bright as they have a beautiful color. The chairs and tables are very strong and of good quality. We are also grateful because HHI has rebuilt the toilets for our students. Thank you so much to HHI and donors who have rebuilt our school." - Gabariel Lahar, Principal of SD Munting Kajang, Flores
"My daughter has become a lot more enthusiastic to go to school, she loves to learn and play with her friends at school. Thank you donor and HHI for helping us rebuild a better school" - Lusia Tefa, mother of a student at TK St Maria Ratu Karmel, Timor
We aim to rebuild 26 schools in East Nusa Tenggara this year. Help us get there! Support the #iamchange campaign by sharing and donating at https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/iamchange/.
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