Doing Good in Jakarta: A place you can’t miss!

We spent the morning practicing the skit and laughing at ourselves. My friend, Hui Bing (a special needs teacher), was visiting Jakarta from Singapore. As with any other person coming or living in the region, I immediately invited her to guest teach at Yayasan Prima Unggul, an orphanage entrepreneurship high school in Jakarta.

When Hui Bing first showed me the first version of her costume, I almost died laughing.

When Hui Bing first showed me the first version of her costume, I almost died laughing. 

While the students learn English as part of their high school curriculum, their level is very basic and they barely have any chance to practice it conversationally. So the idea was to allow them a chance to practice speaking English and be comfortable with the language, without having to worry about grammar or proper sentence structure. Hui Bing and I wrote up a short skit to show the student.

The premise of the skit was quite simple – A robbery. An old lady (played by your truly) is on her way to the bank when a robber (played by Hui Bing) comes at her with a knife and demands her purse. To play the part, I donned a shower cap, wore a long jacket and a sarong, walked with a bent back and the support of a long umbrella. As a twist, the robber gets beaten up by the unusually stubborn old lady with her umbrella. The robber drops her knife and runs for her life while the old lady continues about as if nothing has happened. Later, the dejected robber laments her actions and gets consoled by a Tukang Ngamen (Singing Beggar; common in Indonesia) and decides to live a proper, honest life.

Practicing the skit took a while as we couldn’t stop laughing at each other’s ridiculous appearances. We also brought along a bag full of sarongs, hats and other props the students could use later.

Oww my poor back… says grandma

When we reached the orphanage housing, we could hear singing from the outside. If you’ve read the first ever post I wrote on YPU, you should know that the students love to sing. Once we entered into the actual main hall, I was just awed and speechless. The students’ voices resonated loudly in the small room like the chorus of angels, along with the melodious sound of their Angklung (a traditional Indonesian instrument). It was just one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard in my life; I honestly can’t praise them enough except to say, if you have a chance, come hear them sing live. 🙂 (in the meantime, watch a short video of them here)

After presenting the skit to the students, we broke them into groups of four or five and asked them to write their own 3-4 minutes English language skit on any topic. While their English is very basic, by pushing them out of their comfort zone, many actually managed to write spectacular pieces. I thought the kids had a lot of fun, especially with the clothing and ukulele. (Many of them happily took on the role of the Pengamen – Singing beggar, though their instrument of choice is usually the guitar) The acting talents of some of the students could also be clearly seen. One student had cried so realistically I was almost worried it was real.

The students practicing their skit

The students practicing their skit

As with the director, I believe that guest teachers or speakers not only inspire the students and motivate them (knowing that people outside are so keen about them), they also have a lot of valuable knowledge to share and also exposes the students to different kinds of individuals and communication situations. Matthew Rickard, the founder of Footsteps for Good in Singapore has also guest-taught for them in early in January. He taught the students vision boarding and the students’ vision boards are now proudly displayed at the orphanage housing. You can view a short video of the workshop here.

Martin once told me, “Orphans are often the receivers of goodwill and seen as helpless. Through YPU, orphans don’t only take, they can also even give back, by inspiring.”

And it’s true. Not only are guests and visitors an inspiration to the students, the students’ strong determination and love for education are also an inspiration for our guests. Well, I can safely say, IMHO, this place is in the top 10 list of must go places in Jakarta!

(I volunteer in multiple areas at YPU. They do wonderful and valuable work on a lean budget. If you’d like to make a difference, contribute, inspire or be involved in any way, get in touch via the website!)

Thanks Hui Bing for taking the photos/videos of the students!

Photos HERE.