The buzz of animated chatter fills the JIS auditorium. The children of Yayasan Puspita are on their way.
It’s 7:30 AM and we’re racing around the room –the clanks and clonks of chairs stacking, the deafening squeaks of the speaker being set up, the constant directions given by the President from the other end of the room. We bustle with excitement. Finally, Archie barges through the door and announces those two hotly anticipated words: “They’re here!”
Then come the smiles and the warm hands reaching out for a handshake. Eyes glisten with excitement equal to our own. Some yawn from the long bus ride, others already sitting down ready to begin.
Before we know it, a whole day has passed by in a blur of laughter and discussion. We’ve learned about non-Newtonian liquids, danced to One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” and drawn our own comic strips for English. Hasbi and Salman taught the whole group how to play a drum sequence, and soon we were all able to play the song together. Lastly, we ended the afternoon with an hour of games in the pool. Hamdi and Haedar are still singing “We Can’t Stop”, the fun of the day still pumping through their veins. It’s time to wind down but we’re all still wound up. The end of the visit is our least favorite part of the day, yet we know it’s not farewell. It’s ‘See you soon’. Next time it will be our turn to visit the Puspita children in Bogor, where they will welcome us into their home with the same warmth and hospitality.
After every visit, we have a new sense of what it means to dream. All the Puspita kids have their own goals and aspirations. Salma wants to be a photographer and asks lots of questions about how she can achieve her dream. Hamdi, one of the first members of Yayasan Puspita, wants to be a chef –the rhythmic chopping of the knife brings him a sense of comfort and the satisfied faces after a shared meal are enough to fill him up. He loves what he does and he is unafraid to share his passion with those around him. Stories like theirs are inspirational, and in many ways, invoke a sense of gratitude.
In 2014 land was donated to the Puspita Foundation and with the generous support of the New Zealand Embassy, a boarding school was built in the green hills and fresh air of Bogor. Hamdi and other children in need were given the chance to live away from the challenges of Jakarta. The children spend a few years of their high school career at the charming campus of Puspita Bogor, where their days consist of studying and learning from their teachers and a number of visiting volunteers and friends. After they finish their courses at Puspita, they are equipped with the skills and knowledge required for Indonesian mainstream high school.
JIS has maintained a close connection with Puspita Bogor ever since its opening, with regular visits throughout the year. Although we’ve recently said goodbye to the first generation of these amazing young individuals, Facebook and email have allowed us to keep in touch as if they’ve never left. They have taught us more than we’ve ever taught them and for that –and for the friendship we have shared– we are grateful for the opportunity to spend time with our family for life: the children of Yayasan Puspita.