Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Thoughts On Helping The Community

As some of my regular readers know, we have tried to look for some volunteer work to do but failed. The people here seemed more interested in our money and we always end up helping out by giving rice (instead of cash).

So the whole volunteering thing sort of fizzled out and we focused on helping those immediately around us instead. So far, it has been very fulfilling. Yet, each day, I still come across situations that make me want to do more.

I need to put some of my thoughts into action. I just don't know how to do it. And I think I need some sort of local collaboration to make it effective. I don't want to be condescending about it. After all, I have absolutely no experience in this sort of thing and there is so much more I need to learn about the attitudes and culture here.

These are some ideas I've had for contributing to the community here:

1) Educating young girls (from poorer families) on the importance of an education and pairing them up with mentors that will be able to meet with them periodically.

2) Organizing a "Toys and Books Drive". I'm getting the impression here that the poorer kids literally have zero toys.

3) Setting up some sort of weekly mother/child session for kindergarten aged children. I think a free kindergarten would just be interpreted as free babysitting. So, the idea is for moms to come along as well. This will also give them ideas and activities that they can use at home. Some parents can't afford to send their children to kindergarten and those kids are at risk of not being able to enter primary school because there is an entrance exam.

4) Information sharing on :
- Basic hygiene and cleanliness.
- Easy and affordable nutrition.
- Breastfeeding (It surprised me to find out that many people here, who really can't afford it, are spending their money unnecessarily on formula because they have come to believe that this is NEEDED for their babies. It starts the whole vicious cycle of their milk supply dropping, them needing to supplement the formula with some sort of rice flour paste etc etc etc)

5) Some sort of organized employment for street kids. Yes, kids are supposed to be in school but I think some of these children have no choice. So, instead of begging on the streets, it is better to teach them about working. Maybe some sort of door-to-door service since thats so common here. Things like door-to-door car washing, gardening and drain clearing. Someone needs to organize them into a group and be the liaison to the people in the houses (set up appointments or whatever).

Anyway, I know my ideas are all up there in the air. And, I hate to be the sort of person that is all talk and no action. So, I'll keep trying. Perhaps I should start by finding myself a partner.


John said...

Great ideas, Amanda. I'd suggest starting with one at a time. Once that gets going well, tackle another. Trying to do too much at once can lead to frustration and failure.

I like the kindergarten/moms idea.

Mariah said...

Amanda, love the Kindergarten/Mother school.

You could possibly teach the children in another area, then guide the mothers as well w/the importance of several of the other ideas you listed. Kill 2 birds with one stone if you will. The mentors, the hygiene, etc.

I don't know you at all, but found your blog by looking up Diving of all things. It sounds like you are a part of an amazing thing in Palembang. I will come back to see what are you are up to.

Nap Warden said...

I am with the rest of the pack, the kindergarten/Mom school seems like a great idea:)

fiona said...

Mommy and Me seems like the best place to start, getting to know the moms could potentially lead on to your "organized employment" idea, perhaps one or more of the moms would help co-ordinate it!
Great ideas...I'm really impressed

Bilbo said...

Now I'm embarrassed because I'm not out doing something. Maybe I'll hire Mike to volunteer for something.

In all seriousness, though, I like the mother/child sessions - I think that could really pay off for a lot of people in many ways. Good luck!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

They are all good ideas that will help someone.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Oh I heart you and your big heart and beautiful ideas Amanda!!

Mike said...

"Basic hygiene and cleanliness."

This would be a good start for the shaved ice man.

Amanda said...

Thanks for all your words of support. I'm going to do something!

So motivated now.....:)

•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

Amanda they are all wonderful ideas. I am in awe of you for wanting to facilitate so much to help your community. The breastfeeding thing is both interesting and sad.
You are awesome -