Indonesia: Work with Handicapped Children

They are a "punishment from God". Children with handicaps in Indonesia still suffer from this reputation. A women's initiative of the Taraja Church breaks through the isolation of these children and stands up for their rights.

A dark corner in the house - that was Augustine's allotted place. The Indonesian girl is blind and in the first years of her life, she received little attention. Today, everything is different. She sits at the table and forcefully cuts a large squash. One only realises she is blind when she stands up to fetch a saucepan. It is quite natural for Augustine to help around the house these days. She has even learnt to read and write Braille.

Out of the corner, into the midst of society

Augustine managed all of that with the help of women of the Toraja Church who have supported the girl for the past eleven years on a voluntary basis. In the middle of the 1990s, they started looking for handicapped children and supporting them with the programme "Rehabilitation into society" (RBM). Their motivation: Indonesian families often lock up handicapped children in a hidden part of the house as they are traditionally seen as "a punishment of God" and a consequence for wrongdoing in the family. This opinion is even widespread among Christians in Indonesia.

The female co-workers of RBM try everything to have handicapped children accepted from an early age as the image of God in families and congregations. They also support the rights of the girls and boys to medical care and education - even at national level. The female volunteers visit the families in their mountain villages. Together with doctors they discuss how to support the young children individually according to their skills. In order to overcome prejudices, they organise informative seminars and include the children in worship services and church festivities. Some of the children are taught in a new building which was finished in Rantepao in 2013 - this was also made possible by the many donations contributed to EMS.

Leading an independent life

The aim of the project is for handicapped children in Indonesia to lead a more or less independent life. "The fact that this is possible is shown by the many young people we have supported or are still in the process of doing so. They work and so they contribute to their livelihood," says programme leader Milka Sarangalla with delight. Augustine is one of these 400 children and young adults. With a small loan from RBM she opened a kiosk where she mainly sells hand-woven bags which she made herself.

Help children with handicaps to find their place in the middle of Indonesian society.


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Evangelische Mission in Solidarit├Ąt
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