NOW! JAKARTA | The Importance of Giving Back

The Importance of Giving Back

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The American Women’s Association (AWA) of Indonesia, first established in the mid-1950s, is a vibrant organization that not only helps newcomers to adapt to life in Jakarta, but also puts great emphasis on giving back to the Indonesian community by supporting different projects.


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One of the highlights of AWA’s busy calendar of social activities is the annual Angel Tree Luncheon, a charity event that this year brought together AWA’s members in mid-November for a good cause.

“The Angel Tree Luncheon was the first event I joined when I moved to Jakarta, and it absolutely is my favourite,” said Margaret Oehmke, President of AWA in her opening remarks. “I feel that it truly epitomizes the spirit of the American Women’s Association in that we come together in friendship, to share each other’s company and to give back to the community that we love, here in Jakarta.”

The women - and a few men - who attended the luncheon sat down at beautifully decorated tables and enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by KOI restaurant. Fira Christiano, Riefky Dewi and Fendo Parama Sardi of Wisma Cheshire as well as JIS student Ayoni Thompson mesmerized the guests as they performed a couple of songs.

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This year’s Angel Tree Luncheon was particularly special as it honoured Hermie Leenhouts, the founder of the event.

“She wanted to create a fun way for us to raise funds for different foundations in Jakarta,” Nicole Thompson, co-chair Social Welfare of AWA, explained. “The idea has evolved and been refined over the years.”

Hermie, who moved back to the Philippines in May, has been a committed member of AWA since 2004. To honour her many years of dedication, she received the inaugural “Gift of Giving Award”.

This year, three foundations benefited financially from the luncheon: Mary’s Cancer Kiddies provides support for the medical treatment of children from financially disadvantaged families; Yayasan Remaja Masa Depan is an orphanage in the area of Tebet that helps children in the slum area to complete their education, whereas XS Project makes products from recycled items and provides additional education for the children of trash pickers in the area of Cirendeu.

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“We also have 185 children who will also benefit either through gifts or monetary donations as a result of this event,” Nicole added.

Fira Christiano of Wisma Cheshire, who has been blind since he was toddler, was given his own piano to help fulfill his dream of studying at Berklee College of Music someday; raffle tickets as well as craft items and handmade rugs by the students of Yayasan Amal Mulia and Kasih Mandiri were sold during the event.

The AWA also supported the Roshan Learning Center - all the children who attend school at Roshan are refugees who are awaiting approval to move on to their third country - and Yayasan Lestari Sayang Anak, a non-profit orphanage by giving them gifts they wished for, such as books, writing papers and toys.

Katrin Figge

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