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25 Apr 18

VOLUNTEERING WITH ARS86CARE

admin86care
English

Having decided to volunteer for Ars86care at their office in Jakarta, I thought it would be helpful to visit some of their projects in the Demak Municipality, Semarang, Central Java. Before coming to Jakarta from the United States and while in Jakarta I studied Ars86care mission and did the best I could to fully understand their impact on young children and the communities in which they live. Wanting to see the full impact of Ars86cares projects from start to finish I was granted the opportunity to visit school projects from all stages including: planning, construction, and a fully finished project as part of their Space to Build program. Along with visiting the project sites in these three phases I also had the opportunity of attending a teacher training workshop that included about one hundred kindergarten principals.

 

After arriving to the first school project on my trip in Penadaran the first thing I noticed was the warm greetings from both the teachers and students. This Kindergarten was still in the planning phase and so operated out of its original building. Going inside the building I had to watch my step navigating across the uneven floor that was partially concealed from the dim lighting. I could also observe the walls have been crumbling along with small glams of light coming through the neglected ceiling. Despite these conditions the room was filled with inviting paintings and child friendly decorations. The effort made by the teacher and enthusiasm of the young students brought a positive energy to the room that seemed to overpower the dismal physical environment. After enjoying the hospitality of the teaching staff and entertaining the immense curiosity of students for having a foreign “bule” visitor we departed for the next school site.

The next project site was located within a scenic rice field in the village of Bumiharjo. This project site had both the original school still in operation and the new school in the construction phase. The original school was in a similar condition as the first site with dim lighting, uneven floors, and a dilapidated roof. Behind this old wooden one room schoolhouse in stark contrast was the construction site for the new kindergarten. The new kindergarten was fairly far along in construction and the difference in physical improvement was immense in comparison to the old school. The new school contained two bright rooms, a future office for the principle and in my opinion the biggest change, an onsite bathroom equipped with a sink for washing hands. In the old school students had to walk across a field to use a bathroom at a government building, which had no sink for hand washing. After visiting the construction site we departed to a completed school, Ars86cares first school, and finally to view a teacher training.

 

When I first arrived to Ars86cares first completed kindergarten in Ngemplak village I was greeted in English from the whole class, which had practiced in the morning before my arrival. This new school had been in operation for about six years and built in a similar design as the school being constructed in Bumiharjo village. Something that struck me right away within this school was how the positive energy brought on by the teachers and students, the similar feeling found in the first site visit, was matched by the excellent physical structure built by Ars86care. Through these observations I realized to a large degree that the enthusiasm from the children and willingness of the community and teachers already existed before the involvement of Ars86care. The physical buildings and capacity training brought to these communities was simply a tool given to these willing communities to allow this already existing energy to be put to use and allow young children to grow to their fullest potential. This realization has really motivated me to continue to support Ars86care because I know with the proper support their projects will succeed long term because providing a safe learning space is not just what Ars86care wants, but also what the communities want. In the end it is the existing motivation of the community using the tools provided from Ars86care that will make these kindergartens successful far into the future.   

25 Apr 2018