Farida Rambu Wodji
Sponsorship Program Assistant
Save the Children in Indonesia
March 31, 2016
Rian stood straight like a winner. Looking content and composed, a kataupa, or traditionally-woven Sumbanese cloth, adorned and towered on his head.
Today, this clear-eyed six-year-old transformed into a little Sumbanese warrior while celebrating his graduation from our Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) center, where sponsorship funds support the physical, cognitive, socio-emotional and language skills of children ages 4 - 6. A kito bage, a typical Sumbanese machete with a wooden handle, hung neatly across his left side. He exuded pride.
His face beamed with joy and his eyes lit up as he held the ECCD graduation certificate awarded to him by the chairman of the center’s parents group. Together with 17 other ECCD students from his sub-district in West Sumba, Indonesia, Rian shared in the joy of being in the first graduating class from this ECCD center.
In their traditional outfits, the children looked and felt like celebrities as they walked on grass mats and the camera rolled to capture their proudest moment. They constantly looked down with admiration at their graduation pins, which displayed their names and photographs. The kids felt so attached to their pins that they didn’t want to take them off even long after the festivities had concluded.
For many children, this graduation day is very special: an achivemenent to celebrate and be thankful for. This special moment is not only celebrated by Rian and his classmates, but also by kids at 31 other ECCD centers in the district where our Sponsorship program is implemented to ensure more children enjoy learning and provide them with the necessary stimulation during this golden age of their development.
As this is a first experience for most parents, the graduation is an eye-opening moment. Parents came to better understand that ECCD is not just a place for play, but is an important learning space for their kids. Parents felt proud and even mobilized their own resources to support the celebration. “ECCD graduation is a success that marks his passing into a new stage of his development,” one parent said of her child, with a huge smile. Village leaders and other community members also got involved with an increased sense of belonging and connection to the ECCD centers in their area.
As a Save the Children staff member working directly with the community, I found my involement fulfilling. Although our work is hard, it is rewarding. I push my limits to go beyond my work and to give a little more, creating special bonds with children and parents.
The graduation celebration has become a great place to build rapport with children and teachers. The joy I saw in children like Rian inspires me to continue my work with a song in my heart.
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