Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Rohingya Sisters: Leaving Home for a Better Future

By Kinanti Pinta Karana 

From left to right: Seemal*, 13; Alma*, 14 and Mira*, 15. The three Rohingya sisters were put on a boat by their parents to save them from rape and other forms of injustice in their home country. They currently stay in Kuala Langsa temporary shelter in East Aceh, where the photo was taken. (© UNICEF Indonesia / 2015 / Kinanti Pinta Karana)

Langsa, INDONESIA, 25 May 2015 - It is almost midday when I finally arrive at the compound in Langsa that has become a temporary home for some of the refugees and migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Between 10 and 20 May, a total of 1,829 boat people from the two countries have managed to reach the shores of Aceh and North Sumatra provinces, in West Indonesia. Among them are 599 children, including 345 unaccompanied minors.

They braved the perilous sea journey from their respective home countries some of them fleeing persecution and discrimination, others to escape poverty. Many more are still stranded at sea.

As I make my way into the women’s and children’s barrack, I see three adolescent girls clinging together in one corner of the room. I smile at them and they shyly smile back. Only later I realize how precious that smile was, considering the ordeal they had gone through at sea.

“My name is Mira*, I am 15 years old. These are my sisters Alma* who is 14, and Seemal*. She is 13,” the oldest girl explains.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New law, high hopes: Juvenile justice in Makassar


By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

Akmal is in school instead of a Makassar prison cell (pictured).
©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

Fourteen-year-old Akmal* sits in the corridor of a large government office in Makassar. He seems nervous – playing with the zipper on his backpack, constantly adjusting his school uniform. It’s understandable given the imposing surroundings. “I’m OK,” he says softly. “This is better than a prison.”

A few months ago, Akmal was walking the Makassar streets with a friend. The friend decided to prove his bravado by stealing a gas canister from a nearby shop. Things didn’t go as planned and both boys were apprehended by police.

A prison sentence for petty crime is common in Indonesia. Although Akmal was not directly involved in the gas canister theft, a lengthy stint in prison was the expected outcome. But, thanks to the new Juvenile Criminal System Law that came into force in August 2014, Akmal’s story turned out very differently.

Monday, May 18, 2015

UNICEF’s psychosocial counselling on air is already making an impact

By Naresh Newar

On 7 May, Chiranjibi Adhikari, sitting with his injured 6-year-old son, Kritagya, in one of two UNICEF-provided tents set up on the grounds at Dhading District Hospital in the town of Dhading Besi, headquarters of Dhading District, speaks with a psychosocial counsellor live via his mobile telephone, during a segment of the UNICEF-supported Bhandai Sundai (Saying Listening) radio programme. ©UNICEF/2015/Panday.

Dhadingbesi, Nepal – Chiranjibi Adhikari had never seen his 6-year-old son Kritagya so restless.

“He is always looking for attention,” the 45-year-old said, “He wasn’t like this before."

Kritagya, he said, has been traumatised ever since the 7.8 Richter scale earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015.

“I don’t know how to control this boy,” said Chiranjibi. “He is extremely panicky and nothing I do seems to calm him.”

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sulaeha’s story: Saving lives in Sumenep

Sulaeha is a mother of three from Sumenep in East Java. She has always been concerned about the welfare of not only her family but also her wider community. So Sulaeha recently decided to become a health volunteer.

“Just because I am not a trained health worker, does not mean I cannot help improve the health of children in my area,” Sulaeha says. “What I can do is help back-up important health facts with religious content.”

Sulaeha is the daughter of a respected religious leader and an active member of Fatayat – the women’s sub-unit of the Islamic organisation Nadhlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organisations in the world with around 80 million members. So she has a broad knowledge of the Islamic religion.

Sulaeha runs health workshops in her local mosque ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015

Sulaeha’s volunteer role is to convince parents that immunisation is not only critical for their children but also in line with Islamic teachings. This is very important in an area like Sumenep, where a large majority of people follow Islam.