When I Saw The Best Quality of Smiles

It is truly a chaostic time since we got back home. The swelling numbers of activities completely drown me and Aya to the hustle in this Metropolitan city. It doesn’t mean we have less gratitude or excitement on what we are doing so far. Like we said in January, we wished in a new beginning. Looking back, it was only two months away, but today we find ourselves in a pool surrounded with opportunities. And we are seeking nothing else than a balance in time to put everything together so we can write more stories for you šŸ˜€

Well, enough with the drama. In the end of last month, I saw something remarkable that I haven’t see for a long time. The feeling was quite overwhelming for me. So no matter how busy I could be, I thought in my next post, I would definitely share this.

Remember when the first time I talked about the present project for street children? It is ashamed that the event needs to rescheduled. But the reason why, have totally paid it off.

The fact that I am still pretty much active in the community area to help the children with their education every Sunday morning. As you know, I just joined not long ago, but the there are more volunteers coming. It doesn’t look like the number will stop growing either. We do have more variety of people which make it more and more fun!

The story began when one of our new friend, Ivan, was generous enough to arrange a museum visit event for the children. For normal people, it is something absolutely ordinary, some of us even think of it as old fashion. But totally different for the young kids who spend everyday in the street working for a few penny coins and living under the highway bridge, next to pile of garbage.

And before I forgot to mention the name of our community, missil, made the day came true! We brought the children out of their garbage kampung for a day. We went to the national museum, right in the central of Jakarta.

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The front look of the museum a few minutes before the children arrived

I arrived in the venue earlier, separated from the others due to my suburban home. Some of us also came directly from their places. The other majority of volunteers came with bus with the children. Apparently a morning traffic (yes in Sunday morning) kept the group arriving on time.

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George took the snapshot inside the bus when they got stuck in traffic

The weather looked perfect, there was not so much heat, nor so much cloud. While waiting for the others, me and super-cannot-stand-still-friend Dedi looked around the museum. We were just so excited.

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A piece of art that stand in the front of the museum

The group had finally arrived after around 40 minutes late. But I could care less about it, because the miracle started there.

We had been warned ourselves to really keep an eye on each of the children at least on our own class, so noone would be lost from the group. The first thing we did, and what we did over and over again during the whole trip, was lining them up. We also put a color ribbon in their arms.

Of course we went in big group, while we were waiting the others to get ready, nothing else that kept us from selfie photos! Yup, the whole day was a selfie day. And it came a lot from the volunteers (obviously)

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First Pelangi Class Selfie, among the children, there were George, Ayu and Dedi

We entered the museum after met our tour guide (which no excuse, I forgot his name) who as excpected, really good with children.

The museum basically fulls with the country historical stuff. I saw the old building had the history of pre-independence time, there were hanged pictures of our heroes and memorial people with their stories. The new building however, was full with prehistorical era in Indonesia. We decided that our class, Pelangi (Indonesian word for Rainbow), went with the prehistorical era since their education still in beginner level.

The trip mostly explained about how human species developed in the country.

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The children saw and listened how cave men looked like in the country’s prehistorical era

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Inside a cave replica looking on cave men fossil underneath

There was one kid silently sat on the stair as he couldn’t move forward to see the fossil because it was too crowded, instead he looked at the cave roof above him. When I touched his head, he said to me “Sis, was this a place where the people in ancient time live?” I nodded as my answer. “Then they have lived in a better place than me! Were they from the rich as well? But if they were, why would not they wear more clothes? Even I wear more clothes than them…” In the time like this, you had no idea if your anwer is wrong or right, but mine sounded this “You see there were not so many people on their time, so they could choose a nice place to live. But you are totally smarter than them, because you know you should put more clothes otherwise you could get cold!” Then, he gave me his shyly laugh.

We continued to the next floor. I walked in the front of the class and led their walking. When we went with the elevator, some of them stepped nervously and held on each other as we came to the top. Perhaps it was the first time for some of them to use elevator.

The next floor was explained when culture started in our society. There were stones with ancient language that used in old kingdom as communication tools. Also, many merchant stuff when we started to trade from different region or from overseas.

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Children saw the stone with ancient language from an early kingdom

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Showing the children the merchant stuff used for trade in old days

The Asmat ethnic’s old style of boat, was really paid the children attention, especially because its massive length. A boy literally said “We all could hide here when we play hide and seek!” Another kid replied “Then all of us would get busted together!”, and the rest laughed.

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Looking at the long Ā Asmat boat

We then went to the second floor where we found more developed culture in our people. There were traditional carving, sculpture, weapons, and houses.

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The children listened on the traditional architectural carving

Our class leader of the week, Dika, looked very amazed with the traditional houses especially from Sumatera and Kalimantan. I asked if he liked architecture like houses. He nodded and said “It looks warm inside. Sis, if I live here, there will be no more mice running when I sleep right?” Maybe some of you will get confused on what he meant, but he looked at one of Sumatera house, probably you can have the explanation here. Sumatera traditional house tends to have higher floor. The floor does not attach directly to the ground. We call this kind of house asĀ Rumah PanggungĀ orĀ Stage House because the house floor is higher than the ground just like a stage. So I smiled when he said that and gave him a nod. “Do you want to be architect? You have pretty good drawing” I asked him. “What is architect? Does it a job for someone who likes drawing?” he asked me back. “Yes, one of the job if you like drawing. Architect is someone who build a house from a drawing” I said. “So if I draw a house it will become the real house? How?” he wondered. “When you believe that your drawing will someday become someone’s house that people can live in” was my answer to him. “Do you want it? A normal house?” I asked him. He looked down and said “I want it. But..I don’t know how to start”. “You can start drawing. And let me or the other senior see it, okay?!” I said. The boy just silently nodded.

Of course you wouldn’t expect all those small children to just silent or stand still paying attention to the explanation given them, some of them got bored or didn’t listen at all. One of them was a girl in my class, Kiki, so I kept my eyes on her. she looked into a glass shelf where the ancient jewelries. I asked her what was she looking at. She pointed a traditional long and golden earring and wondered if she can wear it. It wasn’t take her too long to start point out all the jewelries and asked me about them. “Who makes those stuff sis?” she asked me. “Anyone can, if they want to” I said. “I only can make a bracelet from straw” then she showed me her work. “It looks so good!” I said. “But it is not pretty enough. I want like one of yours” she said that while touching one of my bracelet. I took a leftover ribbon that I wrapped in my right wrist. I wrapped the bracelet of mine with the ribbon and tighten them up. I put it into her wrist and said, “Look, it is too big for you. That’s why you need to grow up first”. “Why is it only a grown up who can be pretty?” She asked me unsatisfied. “Because first it will fit you better. Secondly, it is because you will be stronger and you can protect and take care of it. So you will not lose or let someone steal it from you” I said. “Do you still want this?” I asked her with giving her the wrapped bracelet. She first took it, then said “Nope, I give it to you, Sis!” She handed me back the bracelet and walked away to where the rest of the class were.

After around two hours tour, we waited for the other groups to finish in the connection bridge between the old and the new building.

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Pelangi Class, another selfie before taking lunch

Finally the other groups had finished so we could all gathered to eat lunch. While the seniors were preparing the meals, Fitri, our community leader entertained the children with singing together. She also did the usual monthly birthday celebration. Every month we gathered all the kids who had birthday on that month. We called them to go the front and the crowd sang happy birthday song together. We also gave the birthday presents.

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Fitri talked to the children on how their visit was like

Lastly, before they got back to their bus, we had one last selfie moment of the day in front of the museum art work. It was blazingly hot. But everyone still tried to smile.

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The last photo of the day in B&W, Pelangi Class with its teachers. Stand at the back from the left: Devi, Sandi, Dika, Anjar, Kiki. Sit at the front from the right: George, Wawan, Ayu, Ammy

It was really the best smiles I haven’t see for a long time, yet I have seen them the whole day. When I saw those children smiled, they reminded me to the last smile given from a poor girl who saved me from the darkness 8 years ago. The same kind of power that gave strength, courage, and hope.

I hope we can have more of those smiles through the present project. It finalize to be held in next week Sunday. So, yes, I’ll keep you updated.

Love,

Chiyo