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At a glance: Indonesia

Rebuilding young quake survivors’ dreams at child centres in Central Java

© UNICEF video
Children sing at a UNICEF-supported centre in quake-affected Central Java, Indonesia.

By Arie Rukmantara and Steve Nettleton

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia, 11 December 2006 – Six months ago, Mohammad Hisyan, 9, was left with little more than his guitar. It was one of the few belongings he managed to save when a devastating earthquake struck Central Java. The 5.9 magnitude tremor killed more than 5,000 people and flattened thousands of homes in the region.

For Mohammad, the guitar is more than just a musical instrument – it is a legacy. It was a gift from his father, who died in the quake that struck early in the morning on 27 May.

Mohammad says he hopes one day to become a professional musician. In the meantime, he spends his afternoons playing songs for other young survivors at a children’s centre in Wedi, a village near Yogyakarta.

Overcoming trauma

“I dream of being a drummer or a guitar player,” he says, his innocence and optimism contrasting with nearby scenes of people living in tents, waiting for their homes to be rebuilt by the Indonesian Government.

© UNICEF video
More than 1,500 young quake survivors like these girls play and receive care and protection at child centres in the region around Jogyakarta, Indonesia.

Mohammad is one of the more than 1,500 children attending UNICEF-established centres in the quake-ravaged area of Yogyakarta. The centres have now been turned over to the local communities to manage as they see fit, to help children overcome their trauma and move on with their lives.

Aside from providing a haven for fun and games, the centres serve as places where children can learn about and discuss problems they face, through entertaining and educational activities – including role-playing and simulations.

Protection from abuse

At some centres, specially trained police officers take part in activities. One of them, Officer Purwaningsih, watches over the children in Wedi, teaching them to respect others and avoid drugs. She also looks out for signs of abuse or neglect.

“Many families are facing hardship and therefore children are very vulnerable to abuse and violence,” said Ms. Purwaningsih. “So it’s very important to protect children, especially in the wake of the earthquake.”

With protection and care from the community, children recovering from the quake can start to forget about the disaster and focus on developing their potential – an important step in rebuilding shattered communities.




11 December 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Steve Nettleton reports on child centres for earthquake survivors in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
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