by Zoe, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta
It was on my first night at the IHF center of Jakarta when I realized that I had to adopt to a completely different reality from what I had known until then. I was in a foreign country, not familiar with the local language, thousands of miles away from my sweet home, my car, my paid job, my comfort and my loved ones. I had to adapt to the change of time and the humid hot weather of Indonesia, get used to the Asian toilets and spicy food, sleep in a tiny room, try not to wake up with the sound of the prays before the dawn, and finally become friends with Jakarta’s most regular visitors, its countless insects.
However, walking out of my room, the next morning of my first sleepless night, I instantly made my first friend in Jakarta. I met the kind Ayu, who lives here at the center with her sweet little sister Rahma. After that, I had one of the most refreshing showers of my life, using the bucket (everything started to make sense about the bathrooms here). Finally, later on that day, during my training I got a reminder of the reason that brought me and will keep me here for months and months, and that was the loud laughter and voices coming from the sweetest little smiley monsters in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, all children are life and happiness, but these ones are even more special. They are children that come from poor families and/or have lost family; they survive through daily and continuous hardships; they live in the slums of Jakarta; and they definitely don’t start their lives with fair opportunities.
Nevertheless, they have this superpower of always keeping on their warmest smiles.They secretly make me laugh even when their naughty and when they put my hand on their little faces, to show their appreciation and respect for what we are doing here, I want to offer them more and more. At those moments, I just forget about everything else and I feel like here and now, we might be doing the most important thing in the world.