I’m Jessica Chandra from the Singapore Management University, and this is my third year being a part of Project Sukacita, a community service project supported by Tanoto Foundation. For Project Sukacita V, my role is that of a mentor to the project leader, and what motivates me going back to Pangkalan Kerinci again and again for the project is mainly the heart-warming feeling I get from the interaction with the locals.
Through the various activities we had, it was nice to see the smiles of the local children and their eagerness to learn and participate in the activities. Even though it was a mere five days spent with them, they have grown to fully trust us within a short span of one or two days and eventually grown more attached to us as the days went by. For me, it was satisfying and rewarding whenever we managed to put a smile on their faces.
One of the most thought-provoking incident I had throughout this trip would be when I saw and realised the significance of family background on child’s growth. As we carried out our children’s developmental assessments, we noticed that many of the children still fell behind the norms they were supposed to exhibit for their age. For example, it struck me that many still did not know the proper way of holding a pen and to imitate the drawing of shapes.
One child however stood out from the rest with developmental abilities that surpassed children of her age, and she was way more responsive then her peers. This particular girl turned out to be a daughter of the local teacher, which perhaps partially explained why she had an edge over her peers. It then got me to think about how guidance from parents or even nannies would greatly affect the development of children and even their motivation to learn new things.
This further emphasised the importance of proper education for the children in order for them to be on the same level as their peers as they enrol into primary schools in the future.
All in all, I believe there is still a lot to be done in order to truly improve the quality of life of the locals in Pangkalan Kerinci. Project Sukacita serves as a good avenue to make an impact towards this movement but it is itself limited in so many areas.
My hope for Project Sukacita is to keep improving in order to tailor to the needs of the locals and give it its best ability in its impact to the locals. Project Sukacita has always been a reminder to myself and my fellow Indonesian peers who are receiving a prestigious education in Singapore that there is still a long way to go for the betterment of Indonesian education, and that we all should strive to contribute positively towards the climb.
Editor’s Note: Jessica Chandra is a Tanoto Foundation Scholar who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business Management, Finance (International Trading) degree at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, SMU