Today was an emotionally challenging day. Although the only item on the agenda was to drive back to Jakarta from Tasikmalaya, it was overwhelming and emotional. It was time to say goodbye to our incredible hosts from Save the Children Indonesia; our new family.
As the van carried us through the winding streets of Tasikmalaya and Bundung, and then into the insane traffic of Jakarta, I remembered the children, parents, and teachers I’d met over the past several days. So much joy, love and smiles. Everyone welcomed us wherever we went and wanted to share their story.
I’ve never experienced communities that have so much pride for where they come from and what they have accomplished. And they should be proud! Without the support of the communities, teachers, parents, students and government officials, inclusive education for elementary school children would not be possible in Tasikmalaya.
The common theme from everyone was that before Save the Children’s Ideal programme, they were not aware children with disabilities could go to school; that they could change the status quo. These children and families stayed within their homes and felt stigmatised. Now these children, families and communities have support. Families know how they can support their children with disabilities and teachers now know how to give them the education they deserve. One success story includes a child who was provided with rehabilitation therapy and now goes to school. He receives regular therapy every two weeks and can now walk and run. Incredible!
The message that these incredible people from Tasikmalaya asked us to share with you is that they want to do more for the children in their villages. They want more education and training from Save the Children so they can pass it on to other villages and teachers. Right now, inclusive education starts at the elementary school level. They want it to carry on through to all grades so these children can continue their education.
I can honestly say that the funding the IKEA Foundation provided to Save the Children Indonesia was well-used and has made an impact. Even more important is that even though the programme ends at the end of 2018, it is long-lasting and sustainable. All of the key stakeholders involved are committed to passing on their knowledge to ensure that inclusive education remains alive in their communities. For that I am proud to work for an organisation that does have a positive impact on people and the planet.