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11 April

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years ago

Tuesday 11th AprilArabella Churchill


8.00-8.45am SHOW 14 & badge making with Save the Children Early Child Development Group 1


9.15-10 am SHOW 15 & badge making wtih Save the Children ECD Group 2


3.00-5.00 pm SHOW 16, parachute games, badge making at Yayasan Lamjabat



Rina has arranged for us to be collected from the hotel by a Save the Children driver and Field Officer at 8.30 a.m., so clearly we are not going to do an 8.00-8.45 am session. The car arrives (all the NGO cars are quite incredibly smart - considerably smarter than they need to be, to tell the truth!) We are accompanied by Boyo from Save the Children (I have real difficulty not speaking to him in a Welsh accent!)


It's quite a long drive to the Early Child Development kindergarten we are going to - so it's just as well Save sent a car, both money-wise and getting lost-wise! We eventually arrive at a tiny little building - there are 9 adults, who are presumably teachers or assistants, and 9 children! We are told that more children will be arriving soon - we do hope so! We had expected at least 25 children at each of the 4 scheduled sessions for Save.


I start running a badge-making session till the rest of the children arrive. The children are very young and quite withdrawn - it is difficult to get them to use lots of colours or draw flamboyantly on their badge centres, but they seem happy enough with the end results. 5 more children eventually arrive, so we have a grand total of 14 children - not much of an audience for a show - hey ho! Poor Hags has to do the show in the sunshine, while the children sit on the marble surround of the tiny building. A few women from the village come and join us, which is nice, and the adults are all really enjoying the show. It takes a while for the children to "get it", but soon they start to loosen up and enjoy it all. One little girl, who arrived late, thinks Haggis is hysterically funny, and can't stop screeching with laughter - so that helps.

But all in all a difficult little show - it is always hard with really tiny numbers - larger numbers generate more excitement and an invigorating atmosphere, which was mostly lacking today, though they clearly enjoyed our visit.


Apparently we are not doing a second session this morning for Save, and Boyo doesn't seem to know anything about the 2 sessions that were set up for tomorrow, when we met John Bugge, Khayo and Rina of Save the Children 10 days ago. Apparently Rina is on holiday, and so is Khayo - but hey, we need to know, so I ring Rina's mobile phone - no answer, but I leave a message and I'm sure she will get back to me.


Back to the hotel. Diary writing, lunch, emails, etc., and then at 12.30 we go to see Mr. Adlin at BRR (the Indonesian Government department that are overseeing and co-ordinating post-tsunami recovery). Mr. Adlin is in the Education Department, and is a very busy man, so we are lucky that he has agreed to meet us. We explain what we are doing, and what we hope to do, with a bigger team of performers and workshop leaders, later this year - I give him some information I have managed to print out on the hotel printer and we show him lots of photographs.


We hope that he will be able to give Children's World International permission to undertake shows in schools in the mornings during the bigger Tour later this year - he is definitely interested, but not necessarily in just the show - apparently school attendance, especially in rural areas, is not high enough - Mr. Adlin says this is because children just find school boring and don't see why they should go. There is not necessarily a culture of education, and that some of the teachers don't make school as interesting as it might be. (Linda later tells me that is is also because, despite the fact that school is "mandatory", and children have to go, it is not free - parents have to pay, though I am not certain how much - Linda says school atttendance will probably never get higher until the schooling if free - and I think she is probably right.) Mr. Adlin is very keen to get attendance figures up, and thinks that Children's World's shows and workshops might be a "carrot", so to speak. He quite sensibly would like something that was "sustainable", and we talked about Haggis running juggling training workshops for schools' staff, teaching them how to juggle and how to make the beanbags, so that they could continue to teach juggling to children after our visit show and workshops. A nice idea - and quite feasible really. Paddy and Charlie (Children's World's main workshop leaders) for instance, if they were on the team later this year, would be able to do a teacher training session showing them how to run video workshops on the theme of "behaviour" with their students. That could work well. Mr. Adlin was also interested in music workshops (Mark Collingwood running drumming workshops?) and art workshops (Dinah Mason doing art therapy?) Some interesting ideas. I said we would give it all some thought and get back to him with ideas and thoughts once we were back in England.


Back to the hotel for a very quick lunch, and than at 2.30 Dedy comes to collect us to take us to Yayasan Lamjabat, Linda North's excellent establishment, where we are going to be running a 3.00-5.00 pm Show and Workshop session for about 180 children. On the way, Rena of Save the Children rings me, and says that tomorrow, Wednesday 12th, is another holiday and that none of the Early Child Development Centres will be open, so we can't do the 2 sessions that had been agreed. OK, I say - but I am actually completely flummoxed. If tomorrow, Wednesday 12th, is a holiday, why on earth didn't Rena and Khayo know about this when we met at the meeting we attended with them and John Bugge about 10 days ago. Actually we are 99% certain tomorrow is NOT a holiday - there has just been a whole series of holiday days, and all the people we ask say that no way is 12th another holiday for children. It's very strange - I don't think it can be that Save didn't like our work, as really this morning's session went as well as could be humanly expected given the tiny size of the group. The children definitely enjoyed the session, and the staff seemed very happy with it all. I am really confused and will email Jon Bugge about this and try to get to the bottom of it all. We were already disappointed to only have 4 groups of 25 children to work with for Save the Children - but to land up with only 14 children in total and waste one and a half mornings when we could probably have set up other sessions elsewhere is rather sad. Where are all the children that Save the Children is saving? Hey ho!


We get to Yayasan Lamjabat at about 2.45 pm, and the lady in charge says all the children will be there by 3.00 pm - so we set up the show and decide to go with that first and then run the other activities afterwards. The show starts and is going really well (despite the fact that at least 60 of the children come from Gampang Boro Camp and village, where we did a show on Sunday evening - these 60 children are actually really pleased to see us again, and seem delighted to be sitting through the show again, thank goodness!)


I am standing by the ipod and sound controls, part-way through the Show, and suddenly I see Graham, Linda's brother, gesticulating at me wildly from the back of the crowd. "You're meant to do the workshops first, then the show", he shouts, "There are more children coming later for the show!". Okey-dokey! Haggis has only got through the Suitcase Dance, the Hats Routine and the Five-Ball Piece - so we cut the show there, and one of the Indonesian ladies explains to the children that now they are going to make badges.


I hand out all the badge bits, and the children start drawing their designs. Here, the badge-making is wonderfully orderly, as the children hand their completed badge centre in to the lovely staff and the lovely staff bring all the piles to me for making. Then the ladies will hand out the completed badges to the children later - as the children feel so safe and comfortable here at Yayasaon Lamjabat (where many of them visit from 3 till 5 p.m. on 6 or even 7 days a week) they have no worries that their badge won't get made, and are happily prepared to leave them - how lovely not to be mobbed! What a difference from the TVRI Camp, where things got so chaotic!


I teach Graham and a couple of the staff how to use the badge machine, and go outside to start some parachute games with the huge multi-coloured parachute (we have brought this wonderful 13.5m one and also a 9m and a 7m to Aceh, as you need different sized ones with different numbers of children - I will probably leave the 9m one here with Linda and maybe the 7m with Children on the Edge). There is just room for the 13.5m parachute in the yard in front of the building, and it looks lovely with about 90 children around it - the other 90 children gather on the marble steps and watch the fun. First we shake the parachute, then we lift it high above our heads and watch it billow beautifully. Then we lift it, take it behind our backs and sit on it, creating a dome-like house. Then we play Cat and Mouse - one child is chosen to be the "mouse" and goes on hands and knees under the parachute scuttling around, the children sitting round the parachute shake it, so that the "mouse" is hidden. Then a "cat" is chosen and that child goes on hands and knees on top of the parachute and tries to catch the "mouse" that is underneath. It's a great game, and they are all tremendously eager to play. If we leave them a parachute, I'm sure the staff here will be able to run parachute games really well - they are such fun, and can be used as a treat, to reward good behaviour. We always make a point of choosing "cats" and "mice" who are sitting quietly rather than pushing themselves forward, and this again is a helpful learning tool.


Then we swap the children and the next lot come and play "Parachute Football", which is the greatest fun and engenders great excitement. I see Graham and Haggis taking pictures from the first floor balcony - hopefully they will get some nice shots - we have one wonderful picture, from when we were in Kosovo in 1999, where we are in a huge playground, with 4 big parachutes being used at the same time. Hags says they can't find the rest of the badge bits, so I leave him and Linda to run the parachute games, and go in and take over the badge-making again, as it has slowed down (it takes a while to find the right rhythm for badge-making, and I am a "master" of the art now, having had a great deal of experience on post-tsunami tours this year). There are still a lot of badges to be made, so I ensconce myself behind the desk and keep churning them out while Haggis starts his show. The children who saw the first bit don't seem to mind at all that he is starting from the beginning again, and though I can't see what is happening, I can hear that the children are absolutely loving it. Eventually I run out of the silver "fronts" that you put the children's designs on - never mind, I will take the remaining badge centres back to the hotel and make up the last 60 badges there, and one of the lovely ladies will come and collect them tomorrow morning on her way in to work at Yayasan Lamjabat.


Haggis had blown up lots of modelling balloons before the show, so we go from room to room, where the children are seated quietly in circles having a snack, and make balloon hats and place them on their heads. For the first 3 rooms and 90 balloons this goes really smoothly - but then suddenly every child in the place gets wind of the fact that there are balloons on offer, and there is a mad dash to the balloon blowing room to get one. We barricade Haggis and Graham in there blowing up balloons as fast as they can, and then a teacher and I try to distribute the balloons as efficiently and "low-key-ly" as we can, starting with the younger children. The children's transport has arrived to begin to take them back to their camps and barracks, and it is a race against time! Eventually the last labi-labi leaves with the last of the children - we didn't manage to get a hat made for every single child, but we did manage to get a hat made for at least the majority of the younger children. Haggis turns the remaining balloons into "dogs" for the staff to distribute as they see best tomorrow.


It's been a great afternoon - fast and furious, but reasonably calm and well-organised at the same time, thanks to the wonderful Yayasan Lamjabat staff.

This really is an excellent place - so many children get so many benefits from it. Really every area in Aceh needs a place like this, and if I were one of the big NGO's, I would definitely be funding Linda to set up several establishments for children based on this excellent "model".


Linda introduces me to Naomi and Goran from Operation USA, another NGO, whom she had invited to attend the session. They seem very interested and supportive. Linda says Yayasan Lamjaabat ran a mini-Festival last year, and we talk about the possibility of running a series of Children/Family Festival sessions when Children's World International returns at the end of the year, hopefully in November or December.


These "Festivals" could run from 3pm until 7 or maybe 8pm and could be for whole families, with clown, magician and circus performances, parachute games, craft activities, workshops, etc. Children's World runs 2 very large 4-day Children's Festivals each summer, one in Bristol and one in our home town of Glastonbury. It would be great if we could help Linda get a series of these special days organised here in Aceh in 5 or 6 different districts. I feel we will probably have a 4-person main CWI team when we visit next, but if all the Festival days were close together, we could probably bring in extra performers for the Festival period (probably performers who were travelling from Europe to Australia anyway, so we would only have to pay their add-on air fare from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to Medan and then Aceh - we could work them really hard, and then give them a few days off on beautiful Pulau Weh - hopefully this way we could get a really good line-up of professional performers at a very cheap cost). We agree to think more about this and talk again - Linda invites us to dinner when we return from Pulau Weh (we are off there tomorrow, to take a couple of days break diving, and to visit 6 or 8 more camps on the island).


Graham drives us back to the hotel, kindly doing a detour so that Haggis can take better resolution pictures of the amazing, huge, "electricity ship" that was swept in during the tsunami and which now sits firmly at the bottom of a street. It is really huge, and there is no way it is ever going to be able to moved. Here the tsunami wasn't really like a wave, it was just like the sea becoming huge and invading the land. It came from different directions, with big surges of water from one direction and then from another, so that there was a "washing machine" effect. This huge boat came in in one area, then was swept around for a while and then finally deposited itself in quite another area. It is the strangest sight - we saw lots of boats in Sri Lanka and Thailand that had done similar things, but nothing anything like as big as this one.


Quick dinner in our room and straight to sleep, as we are exhausted.










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