Everyone knows something that you don’t. Extended exchanges and interactions facilitate a gaining of knowledge, essentially, learning. As an organization that provides education to children and more specifically street children around Yogyakarta, Rumah Impian also functions as a place where local and international volunteers can learn alongside the children.
For the past month or so, I have been working at Hope Shelter, which houses street children in this program during their school days. It has been a month of laughter, smiles, and the occasional fit or two. While at times, I spend the whole day playing seemingly endless rounds of Uno, my time at Hope Shelter serves as a new learning experience, and little by little, by acting as an observer, and simply interacting with the kids, I’ve learned to understand them and their interactions with each other a little better.
By exchanging Christmas cards with Rudi, helping Icha learn to roller-skate, teaching Wulan to play Karna Su Sayang, folding origami cranes with Febri, and helping Rara, Tia, and Iqbal with coloring worksheets, I’ve learned so much about each child’s individual personality and how important it is to value each and every one as an essential part of a whole. They all have their own strengths and pet peeves, and by familiarizing myself with them, I have come to better understand how to best resolve a conflict, facilitate an arts and crafts activity, or perhaps most importantly, become a friend.
It’s a humbling experience to realize that these children, who have fostered their own large family at Hope Shelter, were at some point complete strangers to each other. I initially thought that it must be so daunting for children to come and live in a community that is already so close-knit. However, it’s that genuine, caring attitude, I’ve realized, that encapsulates Hope Shelter, making it an open and welcoming place for children and volunteers alike.
And I think that this environment is fortified by the attitude that the staff at Rumah Impian embrace while working with the children. Through meetings about establishing rules for children, volunteers, and staff at the Hope Shelter, I’ve come to realize that it is not perfect. There still remain kinks to be worked out, but what I admire the most is that the staff acknowledge this and are consistently and actively finding ways to improve for the sake of the children’s well-being. The staff at Hope Shelter quite simply acts as a large parental body, really only concerned with what is best for the children.
Above all, I’ve learned that the people living at the shelter really are just kids. Kind-hearted, fun-loving kids. And yet, they are all so wise in their own ways, showing affection and deep emotion for each other. And while there may be at times fighting and petty arguments, the children truly and honestly care for and take care of each other. It’s inspiring to me to see how Hope Shelter and Rumah Impian really have been able to create a sustainable, loving environment that these children can call home.