The Jakarta Post
Lita Sutrawati, the principal of the Dharma Pertiwi early childhood education center (PAUD), could not hold back her tears while delivering her speech in front of the donors during the reopening of her PAUD in Teluk Naga, Tangerang, recently while children in bright orange uniforms were happily running around the playground.
Lita said she never dreamed that her PAUD would turn into a permanent building equipped with complete facilities.
'This center used to have no facilities. Our roof even leaked when it rained. I could not sleep when the rain came at night as we had to save the books and school equipment,' she said.
Lita said the old building was a semi-permanent shack, made of bamboo. 'I personally built the school with only Rp 1.5 million [US$121] after selling my jewelry in 2010,' she said.
Lita said she had tried to request funds from the government institutions and legislators but received no response.
Private bank PT Bank DBS Indonesia, in cooperation with Happy Hearts Fund Indonesia (HHFI), eventually decided to help build the center, which is a victim of annual floods every rainy season. They started to rebuild the school in September and finished it in November.
The new PAUD has two classrooms, a teacher's room, a bathroom and a playground equipped with swings, slides and a playhouse.
One of the students' parents, 26-year-old Maryam Astri, said the parents were happy with the new facility.
Maryam said her son previously was reluctant to go to school. 'When enrolling him in school, I needed to persuade him first because he was embarrassed by the condition of the school,' she said.
She added that he once refused to enter the school as it was only made of bamboo.
'Now, he is so enthusiastic. I do not have to wake him up to go to school,' she said.
Maryam said the private center was really helpful for her. 'The monthly fee is only Rp 25,000, which is very affordable for my family,' she said, adding that other kindergartens charge multiple times higher than Dharma Pertiwi.
The mother of two whose husband works as a security guard said the registration fee was also cheap. 'I only spent Rp 360,000 rupiah for books, uniforms and starting fees. Others charge up to Rp 1 million,' she said.
Maryam said she still wanted her son to study at the PAUD. 'The lessons in elementary school are getting more difficult now. I want him to be prepared when entering elementary school,' she said.
DBS Indonesia acting president director Steffano Ridwan said during the ceremony for handing over the school to the principal that he was thankful that DBS could have the opportunity to participate in helping build the school.
'We hope the children can improve their study with the new building as the PAUD is the most important foundation for them to continue to higher education,' he said.
According to him, as many as 60 staffers of DBS Indonesia directly got involved in the building of the school.
HHIF CEO Sylvia Beiwinkler said many schools in Greater Jakarta, including Tangerang, needed total renovation.
'We found dozens of schools that urgently need renovation. We built 20 schools this year in Indonesia,' she said.
Sylvia said her organization chose Dharma Pertiwi because the teachers and the neighborhood were enthusiastic with the programs.
'The teachers are proactive and the students are enthusiastic. We are happy to help as long as the recipients welcome us,' she said.
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