Monday, November 06, 2006

A school for scavengers

A little while ago, Melinda, my friend from work, took a couple of us to visit a school for scavenger kids in East Jakarta. The students are the children of trash-pickers. They go to school in the morning and collect and sort through garbage in the afternoon.

It was near the end of Ramadhan, so there was a little frenzy of charitable giving going on - trucks and cars kept pulling up with boxes of instant noodles, rice, etc. Good deeds are worth more during the fasting month, so places like this reap the benefit. Orphanages are booked solid; everybody wants to take the kids out to McDonalds or KFC to break the fast in the evening.

Here's me and my coworker Jennifer with some of the teachers. The woman at the very front started the school five years ago. She herself used to sell ice from a bicycle-cart, so she isn't far removed from the kids in socioeconomic background.

The school supports itself by running a plastic processing facility, and the moms make a little money on the side by making and selling stuff like dish soap and greeting cards.

The kids were really cute. They were in class so we couldn't spend much time with them. But we showed one of them how to shake hands, and this unleashed a wave of hand-shaking throughout the student body. It was like a convention of tiny businesspeople. Which I guess, in a way, they are.

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