Name: Kira Schuetzenhover
Volunteer from: Austria
R umpin is the abbrevation for „Rumah Pintar“, which can be translated as „Smart House“ in English. One of the main aims of this project is to help street children at the traditional market to get an identity, so that they are able to enter formal education in school. In addition, they provide the children with vaccination against common diseases, such as Polio for example. Besides that, the Rumpin volunteers usually go to the market three times a week and learn with the children about anything they are interested in or that they have to do for school. The Rumpin project also has kind of a centre in the area of Johar market, consisting of a little library that has a vast array of different school books: There is everything from Arabic to Maths, as well as many novels and comics for children of different ages and school classes. The location and also the library are provided by a very lovely Indonesian family who are enormously guest friendly.
The “street” children in Johar area are living under very bad conditions, often sleeping in little huts built into the old market building that burned down the year before, often (half)orphans or with only one parent. Especially for people like me it is really inspiring to see the friendliness and optimism that the children show despite their situation. They are really warm and open-hearted, always willing to welcome other volunteers and very quick to open up to them. The weekly visits usually last for an hour from five until six in the evening. During these visits, several of the Rumpin volunteers go to the market or to other locations where there are children in need. The children, who have known these volunteers for years, always come and join the programme and they can choose what they want to learn. Quite often they are interested in Maths, or the volunteers help them do their homework in any subject, or they simply draw with the material the volunteers brought with them or learn how to do some origami, which always makes them very happy.
The development of the waste management campaign ideas in the village was another key activity in the work camp. I feel that it will be impactful as it provided an avenue for the villagers and future volunteers to tackle on the issue of poor waste management system in the village. Lastly, a mutual cultural understanding was developed between the villagers and the participants through home visits. It was a unique experience for me as the host families had show great hospitality and it really made me feel as though Mangkang is my second home. I had learnt more about the culture and the way of living of the local villages during the home visit programme. A strong friendship was forged between the villagers, camp leaders and the international volunteers through all these interaction.
I would say that the base of the work in Rumah Pintar is trust. It is run by long-term volunteers who are very close to the children and have earned their trust over a long period of time. The Rumpin project is hard work, trying to help children get a better life, but the results cannot be seen after a short while, but you need to be very patient and be prepared that they will not be successful without some problems. Because of all this, I would advise people who want to join Rumpin to think about becoming a long-term volunteer, because only that way they can really achieve something for the children and also be able to see their development. If you only join the project for several weeks, you will hardly be able to treat the whole situation with the respect and understanding that is really necessary. It is important to realise that it is nearly impossible to control the children 24/7, so they will still be exposed to the influence of their surroundings, but if there are more long-term volunteers, it may be possible to see the children more often and therefore be able to have an eye on them. It is obvious that Rumpin has a good effect, but the results in the long run will only show in a few years.
Written by Kira Schuetzenhover
‘I would say that the base of the work in Rumah Pintar is trust. It is run by long-term volunteers who are very close to the children and have earned their trust over a long period of time. I would advise people who want to join Rumpin to think about becoming a long-term volunteer, because only that way they can really achieve something for the children.’