by Sammy Ladh
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one..”
This old song by John Lennon echoed in my head when I began writing this story. Dreaming is a pleasant thing to do. A life without a dream is an empty and meaningless life.
Carl Sandburg said, “nothing happens unless first a dream.” Life is about the future and the future begins with a dream.
Every individual must think about his/her future because the future always comes, as long as he/she breathes. Without a dream, the future is also meaningless.
Although it is different for each individual, everyone has the same opportunity and right to develop his/her dream. What I mean with a dream is not an empty fantasy or imagination A dream is a mechanism of thoughts that can be developed into ideas, designs, and masterplans, if it is organized systematically.
People look down on fantasies, but people praise ideals. This is because people consider fantasies as empty dreams, or dreams that are beyond reach. Whilst an ideal is seen as a constructed dream, something achievable, and should be pursued with real actions. A great idea or master plan is also a dream. It is called an insight.
Everyone has this kind of dream. Some people underestimate their dreams, and some handle their dreams seriously. Some have small dreams, and some have big dreams. Big or small someone’s dreams are influenced by his/her environment and culture. A successful person is someone who value his/her dreams, while losers don’t care about dreams.
Forgive me for straying from the topic. I must confess. I’m not an expert on dreams. I just feel that I need to share about dreams because since 10 years ago, dreams has become an inseparable part of my life.
In November 2006, with some help from some friends from Shine community, I started a service for the street children in Yogyakarta. I rent a house in Jetisharjo, Yogyakarta and turned it into a transit shelter for the children who made a living by singing at the intersections of Jetis and Mirota Kampus.
I call this shelter “Dreamhouse” because I want it to be a place where the street children can dream again. I want it to be a place where I (and my friends) can show our solidarity of love to others; to love others the way we love ourselves.
In its early years, the “Dreamhouse” work did not run smoothly. Our dreams for solidarity faced numerous challenges. The indifference of the street children, only a few who wanted to come and take shelter at the Dreamhouse, and even fewer who wanted to join the learning classes we made. Besides that, the scepticism from the society was also our daily routine.
An urban village head who spoke to me even said, “We should not pity those kids. They are only troublemakers. They should all be sent back to where they came from.” He assumed that all the street children were coming from other cities.
We also got sympathies from some people. A lady whose husband work for the civil service said, “I’m glad to see young people like you doing this kind of good work.”
As we continued working with our dream for solidarity, more and more street children came to join Dreamhouse. We developed more programs for them. We started a reading and writing class, to help those who were illiterate. We also started giving handicrafts lessons, and also music lessons. The children seemed excited with these programs, and it encouraged us to keep going with this dream.
We had the transit shelter until the end of 2007. One thing that bothered me at that time was that the children were still in the strees. They are children aged 9 to 18 years old. Many of them were originally from Jogja, but their family were too poor to send them to school, and there were also some children who had lost their parents.
How can they achieve their dreams if they were still in the streets? This thought troubled me. These children should not be in the streets. They should return to school. Giving them shelter where they can sleep at night, and some learning classes, were not enough to protect them from the negative influence they got from the street life.
This concerns led me to make a decision to rent another house for them. This house is not a transit shelter, and should be located far away from the streets where the children worked. This is a house for the children who want to leave the street life and return to school. Every child who live in this house goes to school. In this house all their needs will be provided, including daily pocket money. The children live together with one or two caretakers. And in this house they are no longer street children.
When I shared this idea with the other volunteers, they were excited. But they all had the same question, from where will we get the money to support this? I said to them then, this is Dreamhouse. Everything should start with a dream.
They agreed with me. Thank God. We rent a house in Cupuwatu Kalasan in June 2008. We got this house for “a nearly free” price from a family, and a friend volunteered to live with the children in that house. There were 3 children who have decided to return to school. We call this house “Hope Shelter.” This is where our dreams are not just fantasies, but have begun to have some forms.
The Hope Shelter in Kalasan was a milestone for the Dreamhouse’s work. These 3 children who returned to school, enjoyed the new life as school kids, not street kids anymore. In 2016, one child completed high school. The children living in the Hope Shelter are not only 3 but 16 children.
They are all school children now. They enjoy their new life with a hope that one day their dreams will be achieved. We now have 2 houses, to separate the girls from the boys.
Dreamhouse is now a foundation accredited by the Social Ministry and authorized to work in the entire Special Region of Yogyakarta. Dreamhouse now has many divisions, executing many programs. We have education centers all around Yogyakarta. We also have division called the Dream Campaign, which is responsible for campaigning our works through social media and regular events, to raise the society’s awareness and participation to help the street children.
Jalaran Seko Impen. It all started with a dream, but my life is never the same again because of that dream. Don’t be afraid to dream!