Reflections on CRC Article 23

Every child who is disabled has the right to special education, training and care to enable them to live the fullest possible life.

Laksmi Pamuntjak
Children participate in a game at school
UNICEF Indonesia/2019/Fauzan Ijazah
29 October 2019

Imagine being in a world that wasn’t made for us.

Sometimes they tell us we are no different than others—and that we are able, beautiful, and loved. Sometimes they tell us to cling to our faith, and courage, and promise us freedom from pain. Yet more often than not they tell us we’re this, or this—and we feel it: the facts of our difference. We feel it in our bones, in some nook in our soul, or in other parts of us that know.

Sometimes they feel bad for us. They tell us we have ‘special needs,’ that we are ‘challenged,’ that we are ‘handicapable,’ as if in saying so the facts of our disabilities were gone. Sometimes they call us ‘differently-abled’ as if the fact that no one person is the same were not the essence of the human race.

Sometimes we are put in schools where people are kind to us and teach us things; some of them even risked their lives to rescue children like us on a faraway island when an earthquake hit their village and they were really scared. But sometimes we do not get to see the world and are hidden from view, like broken furniture, a distorted painting, a soiled fabric.

Sometimes they tell us there is no point in sending us to school because we will be bullied, we will not be cared for, and there will be no job waiting for us. Sometimes they tell our parents they must pray and repent for their sins, for look at us, surely we’re enough of a scourge for the world to bear.

And still.  Sometimes we are given a ball to kick, a field to run around, and suddenly we are no longer alone. Some of the faces around us are familiar; our neighbors, our siblings’ friends, those who simply love playing soccer and having a good time. Sometimes we sit on a beach and draw in the sand, and it’s incredible how many people come to join. It is no longer just the ‘I’ but the collective, and it is lovely to be there—to be part of this borderless world.

Though these reflections were inspired by the accompanying photographs, the texts do not describe the life or story of any person depicted within them.


Convention on the rights of the child

In 1989, governments across the world promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Convention says what countries must do so that all children grow as healthy as possible, can learn at school, are protected, have their views listened to, and are treated fairly.

As part of Indonesia’s celebrations in November 2019, to mark the 30th anniversary of the CRC, UNICEF asked Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak to help us envision some of these CRC articles. Inspired by photos and images from our database, and working with our programme specialists, Laksmi created 15 fictional texts on some of the most relevant articles for the Indonesian context.

Though these reflections were inspired by the accompanying photographs, the texts do not describe the life or story of any person depicted within them.