After the reading session, the children were given a lot colour pens and paper to draw whatever they liked from the books. It is quite an interesting part, as they start to paint a lot of items according to their imagination and some things from the book.
Gresik, is a small area in the East Java, Surabaya, with many schools. Children don’t have enough materials to read as beginning readers and there is not a child-friend library provided to local children to enjoy reading. The literacy programme is dedicated to designing books and building a colourful and child-friend library for local schools, and bringing to children a totally new environment for reading.
The specially designed books, which target the beginning reader, not only bring new stories to children, with these colourful drawings. Children also learn how to draw the world by themselves. In the class, the teacher encourages the children to draw something they like. So some of them picked an item from the books, like chocolate cakes, cars, houses and smiley faces. These artworks are hung up on a line to show their creativity, which is refreshed once per month. This adds something from children to the new library, to make them feel more comfortable when they are reading here.
In every school, we did an ice break game with the children to have fun, and also to make them more comfortable to share their feelings with us. This is one of the examples we did in the SDN2 Cerme Kidul school. We are doing a game called “one, two, three, four”. Each time we need to find enough persons to make the sign of the number. This picture shows the “three” as a traffic light, with a bling-bling shining light on! Smile, laugh, a little shy, but happy to be with us, all these children are doing so well, and we really feel it’s a lot of fun to play with them.
During the Q&A session, the children asked where Jay, our Room to Read guide, comes from. When she gave the answer of USA, they were asked if any of them would like to go there. With an immediate response, all of them raised their hands to show their interest. They also would like to go to China to see the panda. Through reading the books, they knew a lot of things that happened outside their current living environment, and had more curiosity to explore.
When we were visiting the schools, we can see the mixed feeling of the childrenOn one side, they were a little shy, because it may be the first time they’ve see so many foreigners. While on the other side, they felt excited to meet us, so curious to see the people coming from the different countries that far away. The smiles on their faces were so natural that it touched me quite a lot. They were using different ways to show their happiness. Although we can’t talk in their language, the body language delivered the same message. I could feel that they liked the child-friendly and colourful library, and they enjoy the reading time with joy.
I’m so impressed by this IWitness trip in Indonesia. With the support of Room to Read, we have visited four different schools to see the changes the literacy programme has brought to them. Talking to children, teachers and parents, we learned they really appreciated the changes and like the new library. Parents will also support school by volunteering themselves at library regularly. Some even sold their handmade products to Malaysia to support the school library. The teachers are well-trained to tell stories to children in such a lively way, that we all can image the story characters are being with us.
In the final visit, we also discussed the sustainable operation of the school library, since the project support ends after three years, but helping the children with a good education environment needs to be continued. The good thing is school management and parents are all aware of this, and they are now working on some proposals to maintain a sustainable solution.
Bye bye Gresik, Surabaya, Indonesia, schools, teachers and children. I will keep all of these precious memories in my mind, and see you again around the world!