Some Q&As about Street Children

Many of you might have some questions about street children but probably you don't know where to ask. Or you might want to help but don't know where to start. Well, to give you some brief explanation, here I post questions one of my dear freind Cher Soon in Singapore had asked me and of course, my answer to his.

Cher Soon:
Clara! I just dropped by ur blog n i have to say u take amazing pics!
I'm really curious abt those street kids.
Can u tell me more about their situation?
R they mostly orphans? abandoned by their parents?
or come from disadvantaged families?
do they need financial help? or more of motivation to get back to school?
Tell me more!

Thx u Eddie. Sorry for my late reply, I had to dig a bit for your answers.

Well, kids on the street is a complicated issue. It's hard to figure out their numbers, their exact characteristics, even up until now, we don't have one solid definition bout them that we all may come to agree. Street children in different countries or towns have different nature though they may share some similarities.

As for street kids I have encountered, most of them come from poor families, often worsen by disfuctionality in their families. Some are run-away kids who don't feel themselves fit into society, school, or their families, few are separated and abandoned and practically "orphanage" , some are simply on the street with their families.

Some children are on the street for just a few hours and still go to school, but most of them drop-out, not finishing compulsory education. So it's not surprising many of them are ililterate and those who can read, have a low interest in reading books or even newspaper.

They do need financial help. But financial help alone will not be helping at all. Arita for example, the girl you wrote a postcard to, was receiving scholarships but it didn't work. Her parents wanted her to keep begging on the street while schooling. Not having enough energy to do both, humiliated by her friends at school, finally she gave up school.

Money matters and it hurts you when you have this kid willing to get back to school and you don't have enough money to send him. But it takes more than money.

Some of them aren't interested in continuing their education. Since they find out that they can make a lot on the street. They get used to the freedom, the glue-sniffing, the drugs, and so on. The hardest part is to change their "street-mentality".

I am now running a project called "Library Box" aiming to provide access for street children to good, variative, interesting books. It will be easy and portable, so they can read books right on the street while doing their activities. In the long run, we hope as they begin to fancy reading, they will have more interest in getting back to school. I have to admit, it's a long journey, and just collecting few books is already a pain ^^. Don't worry I'll survive

I've written enough I guess. If you have another questions, feel free to ask me anytime. And gud luck w/ ur job hunting.

Take Care Eddie

p.s may I post your questions and my answers in my blog. I think it's quite informative.

Simple Things

"Oh, simple things where have you gone...?"
Well, they are not far, actually. I found some in Gunung Kidul (literally means Southern Mountain, part of Yogyakarta), precisely in Baron Beach.

These tiny beautiful creatures just simply exist there without being annoyed by the crowds below, or people rushing, or the sound of waves, nor they annoy anyone. Seeing them, somehow makes me think, in this huge universe overwhelmed by its complexity, someone bothers to keep them unharm and thus let them share their simple beauty. It must have been A Providence. They are small yet beautiful and they take no care of the probability that no one would ever admire the beauty.

While, man.... ah they think they are too great for this whole universe, yet they are the most vulnerable creature ever made. Money they have cannot even buy protection these little fellows own without a penny. Then... even with the angels cry... they, the human, die in a blast.

What keeps you going?

Don't you ever feel like quitting something you've started but somehow you just keep doing it? That's what I feel right now. Well, it's not like I really want to quit and abandon everything, I am tempted to take a pause for a while. But instead of taking a period of hiatus, I find myself continue doing all those things even in a more agressive way.

Those things include contacting people I've long ignored, persuading them to donate their old books and mags, urging some peoples to submit their writings, calling and asking things in nearly self humiliating way. Some went smoothly, while some turned out to be useless failed attempts. But again, I can't help myself to quit.

The reasons? Well, I can't think of any exact explanation for this almost-self-destructing habit (oh ok not a habit). It could be workaholic (who am I trying to fool?), or inner passion ( I hope it's not) or simply I just can't find reasons good enough to make me quitting.

Of all those things I'm doing for street children for example, I have to confess that they didn't solely come from my compassion for them. I mean I love them to some extent and sometimes my heart breaks to see them on the street, the place they don't belong to. But what I feel for them is quite complex. A mix of pity, compassion, refusal, indifference, pain, and anger. I might have came to a point where I get used to them. I'm starting to see them as a common part of my daily activities, my prayers, my works. So common, I slowly forget the first time I got a kick out of the pain looking at their eyes.

So what keeps me going the most is probably the willing to do things right, the urgency to get things done, to make what I've started matters for others but above all, for me. And I haven't arrived there yet....