“Through education, we believed the children could have a better future. So, we worked hard to ensure that all children could access education and hoped to transform the lives of entire families," Hong Tjhin expressed his gratitude for being part of this project.
On August 26, joy and gratitude filled the air at the Tzu Chi Great Love Village in Jakarta, in West Java, Indonesia. Tzu Chi volunteers, members, and villagers gathered in the auditorium of the Great Love School Kindergarten to celebrate the "20th Anniversary of Tzu Chi Great Love Village in Cengkareng." To honor the 20-year history of the Great Love Village, Jakarta's Acting Governor, Heru Budi Hartono, graced the occasion and joined in the festivities.
Believe in Educational Impact
Hong Tjhin, Secretary of Tzu Chi Indonesia, said: "Time has passed by unnoticed, and we find ourselves celebrating the 20th anniversary of Great Love Village together. The three major factors contributing to our achievements over these two decades are harmony and cooperation, education, and gratitude."
He recalled that, when the Great Love School opened, students would not leave through the classroom doors when the dismissal bell rang -- but climbed out of the windows, as had become their habit. Some students dozed off in class after just fifteen minutes, possibly due to malnutrition. He also said that, during those days, he and other Tzu Chi volunteers would knock on the bakery's door at 9 PM and ask if they had any bread to spare so that the children could have subsidized food.
"At that time, we initially went door-to-door to visit households and ensured that all school-age children enrolled in school. There were many eight or nine-year-old kids not attending school back then, and some ten-year-olds could not even read. We believed that, through education, they could have a better future. So we worked hard to ensure that all children could access education, and hoped to transform the lives of entire families," Hong Tjhin expressed his gratitude for being part of this project. He acknowledged that everyone had sincerely played their part and contributed, and now they can see the results. "I hope that the efforts of these past two decades can serve as a model village!"
One of the children from that time, Daqnas Al-Akhtur. A deeply understands the importance of education. When he and his family moved into the Great Love Village, he was just five years old and did not understand many things. He is very grateful for the life his family has today and that he received a good education during his childhood.
He said: "If we had continued to live by the Kali Angke riverside, I would certainly not have had long-term aspirations. It would have been a day-to-day existence, a completely different mindset from now because the environment has a significant impact. Dreaming or having ambitions would be out of the question, as even going to school would be a challenge, given that everyone's mindset there was more geared towards working directly. Because they thought: 'Isn't it better to work instead?'"
Today, Daqnas has become a police officer, after attending both primary and junior high school at the Great Love School. With deep gratitude, he said: "I am extremely grateful to Allah and Tzu Chi's Great Love Village project for allowing us to relocate here. For me, the living conditions, educational facilities, and the overall environment in Great Love Village are much better."
Education Opens Up Perspectives
Another child from that time, Sri Suryaningsih, shares Daqnas' sentiments. She believes that education and the companionship of volunteers opened up perspectives and thinking for her. Today, Sri Suryaningsih is a civil servant in the investment department of the Jakarta provincial government. When she and her family moved to Great Love Village, she was only eleven years old and immediately enrolled in the junior high school at Great Love School. While she initially felt reluctant to leave her friends near her old home, with time and the excellent environment and facilities in Great Love Village, those feelings gradually faded away.
"The new school environment motivated my learning. When I graduated from junior high school, the teachers helped plan and assist me in enrolling in a national high school. They not only imparted knowledge but also wholeheartedly planned for our futures and provided guidance, which was significant to me," Sri Suryaningsih said. After graduating from high school, she continued to university and is currently balancing work and studies to complete her master's degree.
Before they moved, Sri Suryaningsih's parents worked in the garment printing industry; deciding to give up that business was not easy. However, time has shown that their choice was the right one, and it has changed their lives for the better. Sri Suryaningsih's father, Fadholi, happily remarked: "If we had insisted on not moving before, perhaps we wouldn't have the life we have today, and our daughter might not have pursued a master's degree."
A Jing Si Aphorism says: “Education emphasizes the cultivation of wisdom and the opening of the door to compassion while learning emphasizes giving and serving others.”
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Story by METTA WULANDARI