Last week, a group of Save the Children volunteers flew out to Indonesia to see first-hand how our Families First Signature Programme is transforming children’s lives.
East Anglia volunteer David Float is blogging daily on the experience; today he reports back from the Child and Family Support Centre in Bandung on the varied work being done there.
National standards of care
The team at the centre have done an excellent job establishing clear standards of care where there were none before. They’ve also encouraged and trained orphanages to become accredited in these standards.
Orphanages can support more children if they’re with their families than they can if they’re in an institution, and even the most resistant organisations are starting to see the need for change. One sign of the team’s success is the fact that most of the 300 institutions that applied for accreditation in 2014 entered the process themselves.
Our team has also been calling for consistent certification of social workers. In the past, there were no agreed standards, but 36 universities now provide standard courses. There are 100 certified social workers in Indonesia – a country with 249 million people. There’s still a long way to go, but the wheels are in motion.
40% of children in Indonesia have no birth certificate. It costs money to get one after the baby is two months old and you have to visit the local office at least twice, which incurs travel costs.
It might not sound like a big issue, but it can mean children aren’t able to attend their local school, where presenting a birth certificate is a necessary part of the admission process. Instead, they could end up having to attend a school run by an orphanage. It’s another hurdle that our team on the ground is helping families to overcome.
Another side to this work was highlighted by the story of one 18-year-old who was reunited with his family of nine after many years in an orphanage. Unsurprisingly, they found it difficult to adjust.
In a situation like this, families can’t just be left to get on with things themselves. The centre team supported the family’s re-adjustment for six months, by which time things had started to settle down.
“Only in the movies”
In the afternoon we met with social workers who told us about some of the real cases they have dealt with. We heard about a 13-year-old girl who had been staying with her aunt and uncle, working 18-hour days for them as a domestic help.
When she was hit with a pipe by her relative until she suffered severe wounds to her head, chest and neck, the project’s social workers intervened and reunited her with the father. The family were surprised, thinking that social workers only existed in the movies!
Another teenage girl suffered sexual abuse from a local man of high status. The social workers helped her poverty-stricken family get legal aid to take the case to court. Despite threats from the abuser’s important friends, the family won their case and the abuser is now in jail. They’re just two examples from many that show what a difference the centre is making in the community.
Watch this space: tomorrow, David reports back again on the group’s latest discoveries.