Buku Berjalan to 8th Asian Youth Worker Training 2014 in Korea
I’m going to start this writing with a sentence that I said in my farewell speech in Seoul. It really amazes me how Korean government take youth and children issue really seriously. Especially how Korea Youth Worker Agency works. In my opinion, youth and young generation is the key. We are the future of the world. However, we know that youth is in the dilemmatic position. We are no longer a child, so we are now more responsible with a lot of things but… still not yet an adult. We don’t have the capacity to take care a lot of things by ourselves yet. That’s why I agree that we should put more attention to youth issue just how Korean government and their National Youth Center.
I came to the training on behalf of my nongovernmental organization, Buku Berjalan (The Walking Book). We are working in literacy area, especially for children. In 2012, we founded Buku Berjalan Indonesia. This is a non-profit project to provide reading & literacy support to children in Indonesia. By 2014, we have helped more than five communities to establish their mini libraries in several places. We also designed and executed campaign strategy for reading literacy improvement in DKI Jakarta and West Java. We are currently doing new project in establishing fairy tales book with the compilation works from volunteers. I am responsible to manage and organize all relationship with partners and expanding our network. Our works and commitment on community development have been recognized by Ashoka Young Changemaker Award in 2012.
The training was held in Cheonan, a city located 83.6 km south from the capital, Seoul. Cheonan is well known for its patriotism and loyalty, where the Independence Memorial Hall also located there. It was the first days of autumn, so the leaves were starting to turn red. That made our training place, National Youth Center of Korea in Cheonan, really beautiful. The youth center has a lot of incredible facilities for every kind of youth activities, from indoor activities to outdoor activities. They even have some kind of mini planetarium with a very cool telescope so we can star-gazing and learn about constellation in the Cheonan’s clear night sky.
The training started with a very thoughtful lecture from Professor Dr. Chuer-Ung, Park about Korean Youth Policy in philosophical way. All the participant were moved, because we are all agree that even though we came from different countries with different cultures and languages, however we are still came from the same root. We are all human, the citizen of the world.
After the lecture, it was our turn to give a presentation about our country and the youth condition. According to www.youthpolicy.org, Indonesia doesn’t have national youth policy. However there are several attempts to make one in 2013 with the collaboration with UNESCO, but still not fixed yet. In Indonesia, we have Ministry of Youth and Sport as governmental authority that is primarily responsible for youth and also UU No. 40 Tahun 2009 Tentang Kepemudaan or a National Youth Law, a constitution that manages youth organizations, youth rights and obligations, and also youth services from government. Unfortunately, the existing youth policies, especially National Youth Law, did not represent the needs and problems of today’s youth. According to several sources, this was due to the closed and unsocialized nature of the formulation process, so there was a lack of representation from youth in the formulation. The process of formulating policies also did not maximize the existing comprehensive research and studies on the needs and problems of youth. (Source: http://www.youthpolicy.org/national/Indonesia_2013_Youth_Policy_Review.pdf). But since Indonesia have a new president and new governments, that mean we also have new hope for the future of youth in Indonesia. Let’s just wish for the best.
Even with the kind of limitation Indonesia has, that doesn’t mean that there is no youth movement, community, or organization who work for youth and children. In fact there are plenty of new youth organizations and communities established in these past five years. The volunteerism spirit among youth to end the main problems in Indonesia such as education, employment, health (including reproductive health), and food security is the biggest trigger why so many youth feels the urge to make and actually do something through their community and organizations.
The first time we decided to build Buku Berjalan in 2012 also triggered by the fact that literacy number between children in Indonesia especially in rural areas is really low. There are a lot of elementary school students who doesn’t have access to proper facilities such as libraries and books. With only small amounts of donated books and money, and also wonderful support from our close friends we started our activity with Buku Berjalan in an elementary school, SD Al-Hidayah, near our university in Bandung. We came every Saturday bringing books in a box and tech them history, English, we also had a science month and music month. The enthusiasm that come from the children every time we read books or play games with them, make us believe that we are doing the right things and we really hope that every child in Indonesia could also got these experiences.
I also got a lot of new knowledge and information from country presentation by my friends from six other countries. Most of the problems are basically the same, about youth employment, health, and education. One thing that got my attention the most is that there is this community in Thailand who also work in literacy and education for children like Buku Berjalan, named Children of The Trains. The idea came from railway police’s concerns about homeless and street children who live around the train station and railways.
In 1999, Railway Police Commander Jarumporn Suramanee requested to use abandoned train cars
to teach homeless children basic skills. It has now become a collective effort by the Railway Police to serve, protect, shelter, and educate homeless children living in Bangkok. The library train is now home to a growing collection of donated books and magazines. The classroom is filled with eager students who are taught by volunteer railway police officers. The children learn reading, writing, computer skills, civics, drug education, survival skills, and social norms. (Source: http://childrenofthetrains.com/)
I can see why the railway police had the motivation at the first time to build the community to teach children. I believe that education is the root of all issue and problem, especially in developing country like Indonesia. I live in a middle-class society, my university count as the middle-up-to-high class society. But ironically, near my university there are a lot of people who live with only less than 2$ a day. But the good thing is the children there still have a chance to go to the school. Although the school there don’t have proper facilities (the school only have three class rooms, the children need to take turn to use the room. the first, second and third grader take a morning class and the fourth, fifth, and sixth take an afternoon class), they don’t have library and they don’t even have enough teacher. But the children are very smart and they are very enthusiastic when we bring them books.
The kids’ enthusiasm and happiness that reflected through their eyes are my reason why we, Buku Berjalan, Children of The Trains, and any other youth workers should keep doing what we do now for children and youth.
Not only lectures and presentation, we also divided into small groups and work on a project to make action plan for youth and our own youth center. We were asked to choose between six topics. Youth job center, youth outdoor center, anti violence intervention center, youth literacy center, pregnancy prevention center, and suicide prevention center. It was really interesting because different countries means different background story so we also need different youth center, even though I think ideally in every country should have all of those youth centers. But it’s still a long way to go, that’s why we will take small steps to reach the bigger goals.
After we learned from each other, we came up to a conclusion that we are going to need a post program project so we can implement our new knowledge and try to solve youth problems in our countries. Because we agree that what we got from this fruitful training with Korean Youth Work Agency is too precious if we only keep that to ourselves. This training also provides us an expanded network and opportunity for our organizations.
In the end, Korea is indeed a beautiful country with various unique and amazing cultures. To come to a new place and get an opportunity to exploring the country and how locals do their daily activity was really a great experience for me. I know that there is always local wisdom in every region in this world and I know that Korea’s local wisdom is very interesting. Daily I am gaining more and more knowledge about Korea’s unique and rich culture which, for me, is also one of the main attractions. The rising landscapes, unique stories, and breathtaking views are the fuel that pushes me to envision this opportunity going from dream to reality.
This training also teaches me how Korean values little things that matters. Because what is the point of working on the bigger thing without also focusing on the little ones? From the people, I learned to highly appreciate the process not only the output. That’s why we can see how developed Korea nowadays comparing to the neighborhood countries.
I am really grateful for the opportunity I got. I hope it will be very useful not only for me and my organization, Buku Berjalan, but also for my country, Indonesia.
Rizka Azizah is a Public Relations/Co-Founder of Buku Berjalan Indonesia.