The weaving classes in the SOS Children's Village Flores Maumere,…
Even for Indonesian standards, Flores is poor. Poverty dominates the Regency of Sikka, where the SOS Village at Waturia, Maumere, belongs. Most inhabitants are peasants - a hard lot in a region where nine months go without rain; traditional fishermen are not better off.
The weaving classes in the SOS Children's Village Flores Maumere, Indonesia.
Even for Indonesian standards, Flores is poor. Poverty dominates the Regency of Sikka, where the SOS Village at Waturia, Maumere, belongs. Most inhabitants are peasants - a hard lot in a region where nine months go without rain; traditional fishermen are not better off. Here is what I found out about Flores and how SOS Children is helping there.
Education being expensive in relation to income, many children drop out of school early. However, jobs are rare. So we have to think of ways to secure our children's future under these particular circumstances. Besides motivating them to strive for a good formal education, it is vital to teach them as many practical skills as possible. But at least, each child has to master one particular skill to support his or her living and make a contribution to society.
Sewing. Other activities have been restricted for the time being. But of course, our Florenese still do sports and they won't stop singing, alone or in choirs!
Furthermore, this year, they have been responsible for the entire production and distribution of the Internal News Magazine of the Indonesian SOS Villages. Training at the Workshop is the new one among the projects; the other ones were practised before.
Vocational Skill Training is organized and coordinated by a new staff member with related experiences. Educators and other co-workers are involved according to their talents, skills and interests, like a driver who is a graduate from a technical school, handymen, gardeners, a couple of mothers and aunties. Hence, these co-workers will develop their own skills as well, for the good of the children as well as for their own satisfaction. First, space had to be found within the Village compound and adapted. (Of course, these rooms are not up to professional standards yet and there will have to be some improvement in the future). Tools and utensils stored away were checked, repaired, and listed; new ones will have to be bought.
At the Workshop, vocational training started in the beginning of March. Although essential equipment and tools were lacking, the boys began working with what was available. The Village's family-houses were examined to find out what needed to be repaired or replaced, because most household utensils are more than ten years old. The boys are engaged in one of the three departments on Thursdays and Fridays for three hours in the afternoon. During the first 15 minutes they are given instructions and then they go ahead and practice! The grownups make sure that work is done in a cheerful atmosphere; it shouldn't be considered a burden but rather a game. The fact that the boys can witness the result of their efforts right away, gives them a feeling of achievement.
Traditional Weaving, Sewing as well as Farming were reorganized. If you can sew, you can always earn some money in this country. Traditional Hand Weaving is part of the cultural heritage. Traditional textiles are much in use.
As for Farming, in order to foster the children's love for their environment, they will be led in the cultivation of various saplings, like fruit trees, mahogany, teak, and others. As to Fishing, our students from the Vocational School for Fishery are to create and maintain two marine aquaria, one of which is to embellish the Office. Besides, they will cultivate mangrove saplings, because mangrove is a great habitat for fish and a safeguard against tsunami waves.
Children from the nursery at Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
This year eleven students from the community supported by SOS Children's Village Awassa have gained university places. Freworke is one of them.
Temesgen Wairo, who is head of the Social Centre in SOS Children's Village Awassa reports on Freworke's success:
Freworke was born in 1986 in the Awassa region of Ethiopia, as one of six children. His family was poor, the sole income being his father's $17 per month from his work as a guard, which was not even enough to feed every mouth, let alone send six children to school. Thus, some of Freworke's siblings dropped out of school because their parents could not provide them with school materials.
When Freworke's father died in 2002, he almost lost hope of continuing his education. At that time he was going into grade 8 (age 14-15) with a good academic position in class, but he now had to focus on providing for the rest of the family.
Always looking for learning opportunities and worrying about how he could get educational support, in September 2002 Freworke saw the announcement by the SOS School Awassa about the extended community education programme which would support students with good academic rankings.
Even though Freworke had not studied to take the entrance exam required by the programme, he forced himself to do it. He was not successful but, nevertheless, perhaps because of the attitude and potential he displayed, he was admitted as a beneficiary of the programme. It was the beginning of a new life for Freworke.
The community extended programme to orphaned and vulnerable children, which provides local children with uniforms, stationary and psycho/social support, was started by SOS Children's Village Awassa in 2002. In the Awassa region about 75,000 children are living in difficult situations and many of them drop out of school.
About 280 children on the verge of dropping out were admitted to the programme in 2003 and are continuing their education. Eleven of them, including Freworke, have just gained places at university. Freworke expressed his appreciation by stating:
"I will never ever forget the chance that SOS Children Villages has given me. Not only for me, but also for the rest of my family". (He supported them by earning income in his spare time and they are all still at school).
Meanwhile, along with the other ten students, seven boys and four girls, Freworke has just joined his university. Before the students left a farewell party was organized and each student was given a blanket, bed sheets, exercise books and the cost of transport. Those students who scored really good results were rewarded and all were counselled and advised about university life.
But the support does not end there: to maintain a relationship between the students and SOS Children's Villages, each one will be closely followed and supported by the SOS Children's Villages sited closest to the universities, in this case Bahir Dar and Awassa.
For Freworke, the timing of the Awassa village's support programme was perfect and it has great significance in his life. He has said that he wants to be a sociologist, and to make a difference in his family's life. And one day, he added, he would also like to support other vulnerable children in the same way that he was supported by SOS Children's Villages.