The Delta strain of COVID-19 is rapidly spreading across Indonesia and with as many as 125,000 cases per week being recorded in June, the country has been forced into stricter lockdowns. Alarmingly, children are contracting the virus at higher rates than ever before.
In August 2021, the total number of children who have been infected with the virus in Indonesia is around 250,000 – accounting for 12.6% of the total cases. Sadly, 676 children have died from the virus, and around half of these were children under the age of five.
The national healthcare system is being flooded with COVID-19 patients and the government has been recruiting volunteers to support frontline healthcare workers. Despite this, hospitals are still overwhelmed and there is a shortage of oxygen. So far, the variant has infected three million and killed almost 90,000 people across the country.
ChildFund Indonesia is working with local partners to raise awareness about the virus and prevention methods, and to distribute hygiene kits to vulnerable children and their families. ChildFund is also advocating the Indonesian Government to prioritise the vaccination of children aged between 12-17.
“When I heard the news about COVID-19 from teachers at school and the community in my neighbourhood, I could feel the fear arise,” said 10-year-old Arya from East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. “I am worried that I might get infected by the virus.”
School closures have disrupted the education of children across the country and highlighted the inequalities vulnerable children and young people are already facing. This is particularly true for young girls and children with disabilities.
ChildFund is also distributing study kits to children like Arya so they can continue their education at home, and supporting them to learn a new skill while they are in lockdown. Arya has decided to learn to grow bean sprouts for her family. “I am grateful because everyone at home can enjoy healthy, clean and nutritious bean sprouts,” she says.
ChildFund is also sharing lifesaving health information with rural communities and families like Arya’s to ensure that they can keep themselves safe and healthy through the pandemic.
“I feel grateful when I hear the information from my teacher and the community centre that we can prevent getting the coronavirus by actively washing hands with soap and clean water, eating nutritious food to increase our body’s immune system, reducing gatherings and wearing masks outdoors,” Arya says.
ChildFund is supporting rural schools so that when they reopen, they are equipped with hygiene and sanitation stations, can provide psychosocial support for students affected by the pandemic, and classrooms are safe and healthy learning environments.
The best things about sponsoring children are the relationships that are formed and what it can teach you and your family, says long-time sponsor Karen Wood.
The mother-of-three (pictured below) has been sponsoring children through ChildFund Australia since the 1980s, and says sponsorship has been a mind-opening experience for her and her children.
Sponsorship has changed Karen’s life for the better
“Sponsorship has changed me for the better,” Karen says. “It has taught me to be more considerate of cultural differences. There may be a difference in language and the colour of our skin, but we still have the same needs, physically, mentally, emotionally.
“And as parents have the same concerns about our children, and that goes beyond the colour of our skin and our language.”
Karen’s children have grown up learning about different cultures
Through writing letters to her sponsored children and their families – Diah in Indonesia and Man in Vietnam – Karen’s children have also grown up learning about different cultures and how other children around the world live and grow up.
“With my children, they got to see that what we take for granted – like going to school, a bed to sleep in, a meal on the table, a doctor, dentist, and medicines – and what some children around the world don’t have,” Karen says.
Helping children was something that remained close to her heart
Karen first began sponsoring through ChildFund after finishing her nursing degree, and has sponsored children on and off ever since.
While life had been “extremely tough” after her partner passed away and she became a single parent, helping children was something that remained close to her heart. “My life had turned upside down but I got back on my feet, and recommencing sponsorship was back on the table,” Karen says.
“I wanted to instil into my children to be there for others, to be considerate, and really help.”
Being a sponsor with ChildFund has been “like being part of a family”. “I can email or call and I can find things out and I can work out the best way to provide support with my situation,” Karen says.
Sponsor a child today and experience the life-changing journey for yourself
When you sponsor a child with ChildFund Australia, not only do you change a child’s life forever, but you provide your family with a life-changing experience: a journey of change with the sponsored child and their family.