In Indonesia, many children with disabilities such as autism and Down syndrome don’t have the opportunity to receive an education or life skills training because their parents can’t afford to send them to expensive private schools designed for children with disabilities. Often the only option for parents is to leave the children at home alone while the parents work to support the family. In an effort to help children in this situation, Yayasan Cahaya Keluarga Fitrah (also referred to as Rumah Autis, or the Autism House), an NGO in Indonesia, operates six schools in greater Jakarta to give a basic education and to teach life skills to children ages 7 to 15 with autism, severe ADHD, Down syndrome, and other disabilities.
LDS Charities recently contributed equipment to help the Autism House in fulfilling their purpose of giving an education to students and teaching them life skills that will help them become self-reliant. LDS Charities donated classroom equipment, including CD tutorials for learning the alphabet and numbers, desks, bookshelves, and other classroom furniture; exercise equipment, including basketball, volleyball, and badminton equipment; and life skills equipment, including a sewing machine, laminating machine, vacuum cleaner, motor and compressor for tire inflation and repair, embroidery machine, and washing machine. All the equipment helps provide learning tools and a better learning environment for the students. Even the exercise equipment helps the children gain greater dexterity and coordination that can help them in their future pursuits.
Lonnie and Mary Lucherini, LDS Charities volunteers, worked with Autism House staff members to assess what equipment would be needed and how the equipment would benefit the children. They then gathered the equipment for the donation. After working with the Autism House, the Lucherinis expressed their respect and admiration for the work the schools are doing to help children and families in need, as well as their hope to continue working with the Autism House in the future.
In addition to providing a basic education, the schools help children around age 12 find a skill they’re interested in that can help them earn an income to help support their families, and then the schools help the students develop that skill. As the students learn the skill, they begin by selling what they produce to families and teachers connected with the school. After improving their skills, they sell what they produce to the public.
After donating the materials, LDS missionaries participated in a handover ceremony with the Autism House on May 10, 2014. LDS representatives and M. Nelwansyah, the executive director of the Autism Houses in Jakarta, presented one another with tokens of appreciation for having had the opportunity to work together to help children gain the tools they need to assist them in achieving success and self-reliance in their lives.
As part of the ceremony, children danced and sang songs for those who attended. In the final song they sang, “You are my brother! You are my sister! We are family!” This expressed to everyone present the love represented by all those working together to bring greater opportunities to children in need.