Far Country Photos from Jakarta

While I lived in Indonesia from 2003 to 2008, I would, from time to time, send a newsletter to friends which was mostly photos. A picture is certainly worth 1000 words and this “Far Country Photos” shows a slum school project I was involved with in one of the very worst areas of Jakarta. This newsletter was sent to friends in August of 2003, after I’d lived in Indonesia for 5 months.

In my Fields newsletter from February I told you about the street kids’ school that I visited when I was in Jakarta in September of last year. Through the recent gift sent from some kind friends in Austin, I’ve been able to make a first monthly contribution towards sustaining the staff’s brave efforts to provide a local school in one of the worst slums in the city. Our hearts were thrilled to be able to help the founder of this project and his little band of dedicated teachers. I hope these pictures give you a glimpse of what the need is and how your gifts help and make a difference.

The gift that some of you sent means we’ll be able to help these ones through the end of 2003. Part of it will go for needed special supplies. But most will go towards providing some steady income for the 4 teachers who’ve been working as volunteers till now. Our gift to them is a drop in the bucket, if measured by Western cost-of-living standards. But in this 3rd World setting, it’s made a major difference in the teachers being able to devote more time to the kids. As the school becomes more grounded in the community, more parents will be willing to send their children to school rather than to work, beg or steal at an early age, as they do now.

I’m sitting outside the main school building, Sept., ‘02, when I first visited there.


The head teacher said, “This has been a dream for me.”

We brought special supplies: a globe, large world map, scissors, pens, books and prizes for good attendance.

We brought special supplies: a globe, large world map, scissors, pens, books and prizes for good attendance.

The school founder’s life goal is to improve the lot of the worst off here.

The school founder’s life goal is to improve the lot of the worst off here.


The globe was of immediate special interest to all.

So after our talk, we started off with our supplies back through the allies to where the school building is.

Past the ever-present, very multi-purpose drainage canal

Past the local food shop and outdoor restaurant

Past the …badminton court. The US has baseball diamonds and football fields. Europe has soccer pitches. Indonesia? Badminton courts, everywhere.

Then there’s the baboon in the cage next to the umpire’s chair at the badminton court.

And, finally, to the school building. The school is built on stilts over standing water.

Notice the standing water in the “front yard” of the school. It looks the same in the back of the school.

Putting up the large world map was one of the first orders of business.

And the little kids were checking out the foreigners who had come with the new things and were taking pictures.

The back yard. And the four toilets.

View of the main schoolroom. Benches serve as desks, kids sit on the floor, no chairs.

The book rack, from top to bottom and left to right: Media, Mathematics, English, Islam, Biology, Arabic, Social Studies, reading books, Geography

A little girl, doing her studies at her bench while the sun shines through the slats on the wall. Her friend in back does her work on the linoleum floor.

We were especially struck by the teachers’ desire to improve conditions for the kids.

Discussing the future with the staff about how we can cooperate in the next steps to help the children who go to the school.

There are many things I’ve been able to be involved with since coming here and this is just one. While not ostensibly coming across as Christian workers in this project, those there know what we are, where we come from and what we represent. I believe that, while our sermons have been few, our sample and actions have spoken clearly. By sowing seeds of love and practical kindness, I feel we’re fulfilling God’s injunction to “consider the poor”. By working with you and representing you who’ve sent help, we’re all working together to share His love and our blessings with the world’s neediest. Thanks again for your help in this.

Your friend, Mark

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