IO, Jakarta – The Sayap Ibu Foundation was in 1955 by Sulistina Sutomo, wife of National Hero “Bung Tomo”, who was serving as Minister of Social Affairs at that time. The couple lived in what was known as the “Social Service House”, currently the Head Office of Sayap Ibu Foundation, at Jalan Barito II No. 55 Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.
At that time Sulistina noticed how many children were brought along to the market by their parents to help them in trade; she therefore came up with the idea of setting up a daycare facility, which eventually evolved into an orphanage for abandoned children from infancy to the age of five.
Once they reached six they were moved to another orphanage, one which could take care of older children. Over the last ten years, however, it has been difficult to find facilities ready to accept such orphans over the age of five, due to limited resources and economic instability. Thus, the Sayap Ibu Foundation is currently hosting older kids – the eldest being 17. The Foundation currently operates four branches: in addition to the Jakarta Branch Head Office, they can be found in Banten, Yogyakarta and Surabaya.
Since 2012, Tjondrowati Subiyanto has been entrusted with leadership, and currently serves as Chairman of Jakarta Head Office. Mrs. Ati, the nickname of Tjondrowati Subiyanto (now serving her second term of office), initially discovered Sayap Ibu Foundation when her own son was assigned the task of community service by his school, to work at a social institution for 40 hours in one year as a class graduation requirement.
Later on, Mrs. Ati became more closely acquainted with the history and dynamics of Sayap Ibu Foundation and decided to ask to work as an unpaid volunteer (only employees of Sayap Ibu Foundation are on a monthly salary).
Mrs Ati believes that humans have the responsibility to serve others. “We have to be grateful that there are still so many disadvantaged children, some of whom are with us here. We need to ask what we can contribute to share and help these children to pursue a better future. I’ve been given more than enough sustenance from God and I have to share with others who are in dire need,” explained the woman who also has a flower business, as well as park maintenance services.
In addition to nurturing a bunch of toddlers, Sayap Ibu Foundation Head Office also supports a legal child adoption process with permission from the government as a partner. At present, Sayap Ibu Foundation Head Office is the only one permitted by the Ministry of Social Affairs to process the adoption of a child by new parents. Counseling and adaptation training are also given to children looking to move into a new home.
For a child with Down Syndrome or another cerebral or motor impairment, a specialist doctor will conduct an assessment of its condition, and then the child is referred to a nursing home. Children may be given intervention such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, motor therapy, and so on, depending on the child’s needs. The Sayap Ibu Foundation is also skilled at raising funds in cases such as that of when there is an 8-month-old infant with cataracts requiring surgery. In such cases, Sayap Ibu Foundation accesses its strong network of medical professionals and hospitals.
Children are also sent to school, depending on what promise they show. Normal children with an average IQ level are enrolled in a public school. Gifted children are sent to state schools, and there is also a school for children under five years of age at the Sayap Ibu Foundation itself. Children with impaired hearing, vision or mental abilities are admitted to a special school.
Children enrolled in school are guided by trained carers who nurture them with love and support. They also receive psychological counselling since they are starved for affection unlike children lucky enough to have their own parents.
The number of children passing through the Sayap Ibu Foundation from the beginning now numbers in the thousands, and its adoption archives list more than 1000 youngsters as having been adopted by domestic and foreign parents. Currently, the around thirty children are living at two of the Foundation’s facilities: for toddlers, the Jakarta Head Office, and school-age children are residing at the Cirendeu, South Tangerang branch.
Children being cared for here came from a variety of backgrounds. Some were left by destitute parents who could not afford to feed them; hospitals referred them to the social service authority, and they were subsequently sent to the Sayap Ibu Foundation Head Office. The legal status of the child is completely managed by the Foundation for educational and health needs; it is also well aware of the importance of recreation for kids. Currently, the 17-year-old, the oldest child being raised there, is training to become independent and is encouraged to find work.
Older children are tutored by a private teacher and there is also a psychologist who tracks their talents. Despite their deprived upbringing, there are children talented in drawing, and they receive further instruction from volunteer art teachers. Children with musical talent are trained by music teachers and even provided with musical instruments. They have been invited several times to social events held by companies. Even disabled children from this Foundation who are customarily excluded because of their physical limitations can represent DKI Jakarta as champions of athletic competition.
Foundation Donors include individuals, companies and a variety of other organizations. Many donors come directly to the Sayap Ibu Foundation and witness how children are really getting the right education and good foster parenting. “We must nurture the trust of the people by using donor funds exclusively for the benefit of children,” Mrs Ati added.
The Sayap Ibu Foundation has other activities in non-nursing programs, developing PAUD schools for poor children in the neighbourhood, available to those who pay only Rp 25,000 per month. Currently, 100 students are in four PAUD classes, located in Menteng Wadas. The building is a charitable asset donated by a doctor who wants it to serve for social activities and the underprivileged.
Parents of this early childhood school usually come from poor families less educated on average; they are also provided various activities, such as health counselling, nutrition, child care, psychology, crafts and cooking skills. The Sayap Ibu Foundation Head Office also provides assistance since many children with disabilities emerge from disadvantaged families.
They are provided assessment once per year and provided with therapists: Sayap Ibu Foundation holds such therapeutic needs assessment for around 40 children in non-nursing programs. Parents whose children need therapy are only required to pay what they can spare. Sayap Ibu Foundation also serves as a facilitator to access hospital services.
In her second term as Head of the Jakarta Branch, Mrs Ati aspires to manage Sayap Ibu Foundation more professionally, in line with today’s technological era. Preparing more skilled Human Resources will permit managers will be more focused on policy making, monitoring and seeking out donations through its network.
Ibu Ati also hopes her children will be able to study up college level; the Foundation also networks with private/public companies, looking to place its children into suitable employment. She also hopes that Sayap Ibu Foundation will someday have a fixed source of funds to be able to develop its assets and grow its programs. (ekawati)