Tsunami, Tsunami!

by Kerri, Work-Study, IHF Bali

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Two of our students, banging pots and spoons, as loud as they could during afternoon classes signaled to our kids that this wasn’t a typical afternoon. Last week was emergency simulation week!! Although no one wants to think about worst case scenario, we wanted our kids to be prepared if there was ever a fire, earthquake or tsunami, so last week we had a simulation.

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We held two drills on two different days in order to be able to review the information with as many kids as possible. We made lots of noise and gathered everyone in the center to usher them outside and walk them through exactly what they should do and where they should go in the unfortunate case that one of these disasters occurs.

Although the kids were slightly confused by the idea of not having to worry about their shoes, they quickly picked up on what they were supposed to do and everything went smoothly! We even managed to have a bit of fun while pretending.Overall it was a worthwhile exercise that prepared all of us a little bit better on the off chance that one of these worst cases scenarios occur.
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Students Prayer Day before the final exams!

by Valeria, Co-Director, IHF Kenya

When I first came I wanted to know a little bit of how the school system works here and I thought to myself: ‘There is many things I have to learn about this, but I am sure I will know everything soon’ but even now that I am left with two weeks of my stay I get surprised by some of the school events that they celebrate here.

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This past Wednesday I went to Nakuru Day Secondary school for Rodger Plilan’s Form 4 Prayer Day. When I first heard of that event a couple of weeks ago I had no idea what I should expect of it, so I asked my local friends what was it about. Their explanation was: It is a day, where parents and students go to school together to pray for the students to pass their final exams (Form 4 is the last exam of high school).

Once I arrived at the school I could already tell that some special event was going to KENYA1take place, since there was a woman at the entrance selling framed good-luck-wishes in all kinds of colors. Matron bought one for Rodgers. Entering the gate we saw picture-booths, very colorful ones. As we entered the main hall I thought I was entering in a catholic church, because on the stage there was a table arranged like an altar and three priests sitting behind it, with three altar servers at the side. 

I usually understand the kind of mass I am used to in the catholic churches in Switzerland, meaning singing from a book, being quiet and listening to the priest, etc, but here it is different. The church “lives” it. The people dance and sing – knowing the songs by heart – but the structure stays the same. I was amazed. I must say that there was one factor though that made everything a little tiring, which was the heat. Even though there were six fans on the ceiling in the building the heat kept coming through the windows and as there were so many people it was too hot inside. 

After the mass, entertainment was next. The young adults performed different things: some of them sang in the choir, others had a kind of role play that is very typical for schools here and some danced. 

The entertainment was followed by the speeches, and I must say, for my taste they were too long, but probably the factor that I did not understand anything because it was all in Kiswahili played a big role there as well. The speeches were about performing well, future plans, what has been achieved so far, etc. I must admit that after two hours of speeches, of which I only understood 15 minutes I was really glad to be able to leave the hot building and go outside to fetch food provided by the school – rice, cabbage, meat, and bananas. It was a really nice meal.KENYA2

That was also when I finally got to see Rodgers, because through the whole ceremony I did not see him – all the students were sitting together in the front. The three of us  (Beffrey, Matron, and I) we went and took a picture with Rodgers at one of the picture-booths and after that we left the school.

I think it is a wonderful thing such a day where students can sit all together and have a good time before starting their final exams.

Never trust a monkey!

by James, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

While out exploring Northern Thailand, I visited the “Monkey Cave” with some guys I met. We had been out on our bikes for all day, and thought that the cave would be a good place to rest and stretch our legs. So we parked our bikes and began walking around the area. Monkeys were everywhere. They looked nice, and we fed them with IMG_1203some of our snacks. There were two signs that said cave, each pointing in other directions. We headed left, and found ourselves climbing a lot of stairs that went up a mountain. At the top, we went inside a cave and saw a Buddha. To be honest, it wasn’t worth the climb.

After going back down, we saw a monk feeding monkeys and made our way towards the other cave.Thankfully, this did not have any stairs to climb, but it did have a sea of monkeys in front of it. Being the brave one of the group, I led the march towards the cave. I took about five steps and was then hissed at by a monkey. Weird, I thought, but continued on. I was then met by about fifteen to twenty of the little guys. One started scratching at my leg, so I gave it a light nudge with my foot. That was a mistake. The mob of monkeys grew in numbers and started chasing me around the area. I jumped over some roots of a tree and then slipped in some mud. I looked up, and monkeys were just standing there. I’m sure they were laughing on the inside.

I stood up and watched as they all walked off. I looked at my friendsIMG_1243, and they were as confused as I was about what had just happened. “Monkeys are bastards” said John, and I agreed. It was totally not necessary for them to do that. About that time, a monk walked up, who had witnessed the whole thing. He pointed to an imaginary line in the pavement, then made scratching motions and hissing sounds. He looked me over and then laughed. He then walked over and starting feeding the monkeys.

Next time I’m around that many monkeys, I will be on the lookout for that imaginary line. I don’t need to start a turf war with a gang of monkeys again.

English session for the Local Volunteers at IHF Medan

by Aditi, Co-Director, IHF Medan

This week at Medan centre, the English session for the local volunteers, which is part of our teacher training, went on well. The session was held on vocabulary, verbs and communication. Under the verbs section, teachers learned the difference between regular and irregular verbs and how to use them in present and past tense. Role play and games were used during the session and the teachers seemed to enjoy learning. They were enthusiastic and happy. The role play invovled acting out scenes and situations from a day in a foreign country. They conversed in English and performed well. IMG-20141020-WA0007

The classes have been going on regularly. It is nice to see the parents dropping their kids off at our centre for the classes. Their faith in IHF is very encouraging! There was a parent that came to drop off her child. She saw me and was upset when her child did not greet me or the other teacher. She then asked her child to make sure that she always greets elders and teachers!

Attending Our Students’ School – and Watching Them Perform Snow White

by Jing T., Work-study volunteer, IHF Bali

“Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all, hahaha…” with the all familiar lines came bursts of roaring laughter, and the scene of the play was at one of the Junior Schools at Manggis, Bali.

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This week, several junior girls invited us to their Snow White recital. Sounded fascinating and off we went to root for them, all eight of us at the Bali center.

The moment we found the school and entered the campus, we were greeted by big smiles and enthusiastic salutes. It’s a co-ed school but boys and girls go to separate classes, or in some cases, even when they go to the same class, they sit apart.

Though performed without those fancy props or costumes, the play was full ofanimation and joy, and from the lively faces of the audience, it was obvious that they were fully absorbed in the hilarity.school2

The overall infrastructure of the school looks basic and simple; nevertheless, they enjoy the natural blessing of a beautiful garden-like campus.

Feeling the exuberance flowing all around the campus, one couldn’t help but wonder whether there’s more to ask from childhood if it’s not a healthy body and a happy mind.

Lost in Thailand

by James, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

After working hard all week, I decided that I wanted to get out of the city on my day off. I rented a scooter, and headed south to explore the surrounding area of Chiang Rai. About 20 minutes outside of town, I found this nice little café set on the bank of a pond. I sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee, soaking in the scenery and enjoying how quiet it was. I finished up my coffee and hit the road again. Just a few miles down the road, I saw a sign for a wat (temple). The road cut threw some rice fields and looked to be in good shape, so I headed off in search of the wat.

I rode for about an hour, following what I thought were signs for the temple. I came to many intersections, some without any signs and some with but in Thai,IMG_1507 and guessed a lot as to which way to go. I was beginning to get frustrated with the lack of direction provided by the Thai government when I saw a nice winding road going up a mountain. As a race enthusiasts and lover of good roads, I headed straight towards it.

45 minutes later, I was out of road and had no idea as to where I was. I knew which direction to go, but could not remember all the turns I made. I had my phone and considered Googling my way back, but decided to wing it. I made the right decision. I found myself driving down a dirt road that ran through tea fields and a nice little stream. I rode upstream in search for a place to swim, as it was a hot day, and heard the sound of water crashing on rocks. Somehow, I had stumbled upon a waterfall. I hiked for a bit up the hill, and found a nice place to take a picture, have a swim and relax. It pays to get lost in Thailand.

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IHF Medan Says Goodbye to Rafa and Hello! I am Aditi!

by Aditi, Co-Director, IHF Medan

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At the beginning of the week, Rafa, one of the Co-directors at our centre, moved to the Bali centre. He had built a good rapport with the volunteers and children. We are hopeful that we will get to see him again sometime at the centre in the future.

My name is Aditi, and I will be here taking care of the Medan Center, along with Lissa, my colleague and fellow Co-Director. Classes have been going on in full swing. It rained all the days of the week and the children enjoyed studying in this weather. They enthusiastically came to the centre and attended classes. The air of the centre was filled with the smiling faces of the children and the noise of the falling raindrops.

I have started a teacher training workshop at the centre which will continue for some weeks. The workshop is on English for teachers. It will be conducted every week at a time when the children do not have classes and the teachers are free to attend the workshop. I am hopeful that this will help the teachers improve their knowledge and command over the language and in turn benefit the children studying at our centre.

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A Fundraising Success at IHF Aceh: One example of how much you can do!

by Johanna N. Ottolinger, Director FR&M
Recently, one of our Work-Study volunteers, Xin Wei, launched a successful campaign with his local network during his time on-site at IHF Aceh. It was a huge success, and yielded many needed items at the Aceh center and IHF as a whole. This type of activity is an option for all Work-Study volunteers to pursue during their time on-site at IHF, and one we highly encourage because of its interactive, inclusive nature. Volunteers can blog daily events, set up skype calls and promote a very interactive environment for their networks during their stays at -center. We have included his summary inline as a reference to all who might be interested in maximizing his /her Fundraising time and setting up such a campaign.
Another option is to set up a Global Dinner after a volunteer has departed, which essentially means the volunteer will be at home and invite his / her network to a given spot where they have the opportunity to jointly interact with one or a few of our centers and of course, our local attending children. If any past or present volunteers are interested  in pursuing this option, please let us know at fundraising@ihfonline.org and we will get back to you shortly.
For now, a big thank you on behalf of  our team and  IHF to Xin Wei and his network for allowing us to depict their story and their generous contributions!

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Here is Xin Wei’s account: 
A big thank you (to all of you in my network) for helping me out on my volunteering adventure with the International Humanity Foundation (IHF) in Banda Aceh! With everyone’s donations I’ve been able to purchase a mini projector, printer, and scanner for the centre whose primary focus is providing education for the less fortunate. Additionally, I was able to obtain stationery, whiteboard markers (these were VERY useful since we teach so many classes each day), exercise books for the children, and teaching materials such as educational flip charts, colouring books, and assessment books. On top of all that, there was also a cash donation of made directly to the centre.
During my stay there, I was mostly involved in teaching English and Mandarin, mainly to SD (primary school) children and also a class of SMA (Junior College) students. Teaching different levels and languages to students who mostly speak Bahasa Indonesia was both challenging and rewarding – I’ve learned as much from them as (I hope) they learnt from me!
Because of the way IHF is structured, I was also able to contribute to the general running of the NGO, which relies on its international volunteers collaborating online to fulfill tasks such as volunteer recruitment, fundraising, and creating lesson plans adaptable for the various centres. Before going to Aceh, I’d only been working from home with them in their teacher training team, so this trip was a great way to see how the organisation functions as a whole, and also to put some faces to names on my email inbox :) 
At the centre itself what inspired me the most was how the centre relied upon a combination of local volunteers who not only taught classes but also helped out the international volunteers with running the centre and settling into Achenese life. At the same time, the local volunteers gained confidence communicating in English with foreigners, something that both encouraged them and broadened their outlook on life.
Thank you for supporting me in this chance to learn how IHF and other NGOs work, the challenges they face, and the possibilities they can create for the places they’re in and the people they serve.
To learn more about the organisation and the programmes it runs, you can check out: 
For volunteering opportunities with them: http://www.ihfonline.org/volunteering.php

Wedding Celebration in Kenya!

by Ana Cecilia C., WorkStudy, IHF Nakuru

It was not a very good night from Friday to Saturday, there was a girl that was not feeling well and woke us up at 2.30 am so we could take care of her. It was nothing serious, and she is fine now, but it was complicated to have a good sleep after that.

03On Saturday morning I woke up at 7:00 am and heard all the voices outside my room, I knew it was time to get out of bed and start the day. I needed to take three girls to the local clinic in the morning and then work on the profiles so the kids could get sponsors.

The visit to the clinic was the best part of the day, the clinic belongs to a church in the area of Githima which is a very poor neighborhood around which the center is located. When we arrived I realized there was something going on because there was a group of women cooking what seemed to be a big meal. The church was looking very nice with purple decorations and the pastor was wearing a suit.

In the clinic they told us that the doctor hadn’t arrived but that he wouldn’t take long to come, however, we decided to go inside the church to look around. It was looking very pretty because there was a wedding happening at 10:00 and the Pastor invited us to stay for the celebration and the lunch after that. I was tempted. The food the women were cooking looked amazing, and the girls were very excited to receive an invitation.

When we were already with the doctor they told us to go outside because the bride was arriving. We all rushed outside to find this caravan of cars wi01th big purple and white bows entering the compound, they were followed by at least 50 small kids all clapping and very excited, then the beautiful Bibi Arusi (Bride in Kiswahili) came down from the car and the first thing that her women relatives did after fixing her dress was: “You have to take pictures with the mzungu!!” so they grabbed me and put me next to her and started taking many pictures.

I have to say that it was very exciting. I have always loved weddings, brides, and specially wedding dresses. I felt very privileged that as an unknown person to this woman, she was extremely happy to be taking pictures with me, because so I was.

Of course we did not stay for the celebration, after the girls got their check ups we went back to the center chatting about weddings and celebrations. The girls were very happy as well from the experience. At some point they all said that they were very happy to be my friends and as02ked me to stay forever at the center. I felt overwhelmed and very happy that I was finally getting closer to the girls. I felt even more privileged.

It was a great Saturday morning at Nakuru!

Some Vocabulary:

Arusi – Wedding

Bibi Arusi – Bride

Bwana Arusi – Groom

Please help us to help Fajri and his family

Fajri_2by Helene, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta

Sad news in Jakarta.

A big fire started in a nearby neighbourhood, from a construction site and rapidly spread in the slums around, leaving many of its poor inhabitants without a place to sleep.

In particular, one of our TEP students, Fajri, from our fourth grade class, saw his house destroyed by this horrible incident. He used to live in the house of his father’s parents, but the house disappeared in the fire. The family managed to get out of the house in time but all their possessions were destroyed. This includes clothes, food, furniture, but also important papers such as diplomas, birth certificates, etc… which will make it very hard for Fajri’s parents to find and keep a job.

They have now relocated to the house of his mother’s parents. The house was also touched by the fire but the foundations are still standing. However, the roof fully burnt, and therefore, they can only stay there as long as there are no rains.

The family is already facing financial difficulties and Fajri’s health condition is not good. With the fire, the family also breathed in a lot of smoke, which will not help Fajri’s health situation.
We hope for the best for them and that the government will help them repair their house and compensate their losses, but as many of these settlements are not legal and allowed, it is highly probable that nothing will be done.

Here are some articles in Indonesian, if interested.

http://news.detik.com/read/2014/09/24/112848/2699504/10/kebakaran-bedeng-pekerja-bangunan-terjadi-di-cipinang-besar-utara

http://www.beritasatu.com/megapolitan/212302-kebakaran-di-cipinang-besar-selatan-berasal-dari-bedeng-pekerja-apartemen-bassura-city.html

All money donations are welcome and will be directly donated to Fajri and his family to ensure they have a place to stay, food to eat and clothes to wear.

We will be fundraising for Fajri and his family for the next 8 – 12 weeks, but ask you to please donate ASAP as the money is needed right away. Please donate via http://www.ihfonline.org/donating.php,  select “General Donation” and ensure to add the subject: “Fajri” to the subject when making the donation.

Thank you for your help. The Jakarta team will ensure you get an update on Fajri and what was done with donations in the next months.