A Loving Home for the Children of Lombok | NOW! JAKARTA

A Loving Home for the Children of Lombok

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When Chaim Fetter was traveling through Indonesia in 2005, he came across many street children who lived under harsh conditions, with hardly any opportunities for a better future.

Photo courtesy of Peduli Anak Foundation

Deeply moved by the fate of these children, he wanted to make a difference. Together with a childhood friend, he decided to establish the Peduli Anak Foundation on the island of Lombok. 

The foundation is located on 1.5 hectares of land and comprises shelters, schools and medical facilities, providing residential care, family care as well as medical and healthcare services to hundreds of underprivileged children. 

NOW! Jakarta spoke to Chaim Fetter about the Peduli Anak Foundation, the challenges he has to overcome and his vision for the future. 

What made you decide to establish the foundation, and was it a challenge to do so? Did you face any obstacles from the Indonesian government?

I decided to build the foundation because at the time, there were plenty of street children and child workers in Lombok, but there was no good and reputable organisation to deal with this social problem. Lombok is not a big island, and the population is relatively small compared to other cities in Indonesia. If we try to make a difference here, we can immediately see the impact.  

The government was very supportive during the process. We didn’t face any obstacles setting up the foundation. We realized from the beginning that both government and organization must support each other because essentially we are working towards the same goals.

We are proud to say that Peduli Anak Foundation has received a Grade A nationally accredited foundation in Indonesia from the Ministry of Social Affairs, while our primary school also received Grade A accreditation from the Ministry of Education and Culture. 

I decided to build the foundation because at the time, there were plenty of street children and child workers in Lombok, but there was no good and reputable organisation to deal with this social problem. Lombok is not a big island, and the population is relatively small compared to other cities in Indonesia. If we try to make a difference here, we can immediately see the impact.  

-Chaim Fetter, founder of the Peduli Anak Foundation

The main key of foundation program is education.
Photo courtesy of Peduli Anak Foundation

Could you tell me how exactly the foundation works? Where do the children you take care of come from? What do you provide for them?

In the early stage, we send social workers and volunteers to the streets in Lombok - to the harbours, bus terminals, garbage belts and impoverished villages - to find children who are neglected, orphaned, abused or living in extreme poverty. Then we do a background check, interview the families or relatives, if there still are any, as well as people who are familiar with the child in question. If the child meets our criteria, we sign a childcare agreement with a family member, village chief or authority that the child will be taken care of by Peduli Anak. Most of our children are from Lombok, with a few from other parts of Indonesia. We went looking for children who are still young, mostly between kindergarten and primary school age, and who are in desperate need of help. 

Over the past five years, social workers from the Social Department have begun to bring children in need for safe housing to Peduli Anak. Most of them already have proper documentation, such as background check, reports and birth certificates, although it’s still not uncommon that we find children without birth certificates or clear identification. 

We provide a home for children who are orphans or cannot live with their family for some reason. We run our own kindergarten and primary school, which are also open to children from neighboring villages, for free. We support our children’s education to the highest level if possible. Half of our children are in secondary school, and four in college. Besides that, we also provide healthcare and personal development classes and after-school activities. For our 100 children, Peduli Anak and its staff are their home and family. 

Where does the foundation get its funding from?

We get our funding mostly from private donors such as individuals, companies and partner organizations, and also one-off donations. We have “sponsor a child” plans on our website, from which we derive most of our income. We also received some subsidies from the government such as School Operational Aid (BOS) and Social Welfare Institution Aid (LKSA). The government subsidies cover around 10% of our operational costs. The rest of the money we have to find ourselves, and it’s been an ongoing battle. It is very hard and time consuming. Nevertheless, this is what we do in order to feed and educate our children. 

Can you share with us some of your success stories? 

If we can reunite children with their families, or when they finish their education and are able to support themselves, we consider it a success. Over the last twelve years, we have reunited hundreds of children with family members. Sometimes, a single parent is being able to care of their child again or another family member such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent can take on the role as guardian, often with a little financial support and counseling from us. This year, we have seen several of our young adults going to university and college. Hundreds of children are now independent adults who work to support themselves and their families. 

Do you have a certain philosophy on life that you would like to instill in the children you take care of?

Many. But the most important one is that you should never take shortcuts in life. Work hard but smart and be honest, kind and respectful to others.

Came across many street children, Chaim Fetter built Peduli Anak Foundation.  Photo courtesy of Peduli Anak Foundation
One of the program is teaching the children for better future. Photo courtesy of Peduli Anak Foundation

What are the biggest challenges running the foundation?

To keep it running! Of course the challenge is to ensure that we have enough funds to keep it running. I believe all charities share this struggle. However, after more than a decade, the real challenge is to change the mindset of the people. We need to educate people about the disadvantages of early marriage, family planning, and to make them realize that education is a long-term investment. Our biggest failure is when a child is removed from school because a family member we never heard of before shows up after many years and claims to be responsible for the child and wants him or her to work on a farm or to be sent off for marriage. Sadly, we cannot prevent a child to return to his or her family, parent or guardian because the law doesn’t back us up even if the child has been abused or neglected by the very same family member before.

We need to educate people about the disadvantages of early marriage, family planning, and to make them realize that education is a long-term investment. Our biggest failure is when a child is removed from school because a family member we never heard of before shows up after many years and claims to be responsible for the child and wants him or her to work on a farm or to be sent off for marriage.

-Chaim Fetter, founder of the Peduli Anak Foundation

You celebrated your 10-year-anniversary in 2016. What have you learned over the past decade? What are your plans moving forward?

Our children need extra care because they usually didn’t get any attention from their own families or never even felt the love of their parents. At Peduli Anak, the children live in multiple big houses, supervised by two caregivers and counselors. But actually, we don’t think that this is enough in order for us to provide the best care and attention the children need. That’s why moving forward, we are building safe houses for smaller groups of children. Around 12 children will live in one house with a mother and father figure. This will enable us to care for the children in a family-based setting where they receive more attention. This year, we have finished building our first safe house and we’re fundraising to build at least five more.

Visit www.pedulianak.org to find out more about the foundation and how you can get involved. 


Katrin Figge

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Comments (1)

Dian Paramita

2017-12-19 08:14:11 +0700

Great article! Thank you, Katrin!