Indonesia: No Place Like Home
by Felix Wood
Mothers, children and staff from the home
TRAVELLING the world brings with it certain pleasures, such as new people, new foods, new experiences. There is one pleasure that is a constant though, and one that I look forward to no matter how much I have enjoyed a new place, and that is the pleasure of coming home.
‘Home’ is important to everyone. Home is where those who are dearest to us are. Home is what is familiar and safe. Home is what has shaped us and made us who we are. In the words of 16th-century poet Thomas Tusser, ‘Seek home for rest, for home is best.’
Of course, not everyone has a welcoming home to go to. There are those who, for many reasons, do not have a home to call their own. In Indonesia, The Salvation Army has numerous places for those who find themselves without a home – from babies and children through to adults and the elderly. All are cared for and given a place they can call home.
The Matahari Terbit Home in Surabaya cares for around 60 young children and 12 young mothers. The children have been abandoned or their mothers are not able to care for them. The home has recently been renovated and the children have a brand-new building in which they can eat, sleep, play and be cared for. There is also a facility for expectant mothers, who are looked after in the months before and after the delivery of a new baby as well as during the birth itself. These mothers come from a variety of social and religious backgrounds and all are taken in without discrimination.
The Salvation Army’s Indonesia Territory also runs a number of homes for children who are too old for institutions such as Matahari Terbit. At Christmas the homes are adorned with cards and presents from those who grew up in them and who now lead healthy and productive lives. Some go on to become Salvation Army officers. One example is Captain Agung Kristianto, now assistant territorial property secretary, who grew up in Ebenhaezer Boys’ Home in Semarang. He recalls his time there fondly. ‘Because we had no family,’ he says, ‘the home taught us how to stand alone and how to care for ourselves.’
Without these special homes, the children would be left with nowhere to stay and would be forced to fend for themselves, often falling prey to drugs and crime. Captain Agung recognises the problems he could have faced. ‘But,’ he says, ‘at the home we were taught how to become responsible people in society.’
I met an officer who was visiting the Bandung Girls’ Home, staying in one of the guest rooms. He told me that the major in charge of the girls’ home had been in charge of the Matahari Terbit Home when he was there as a child, and that she was later transferred to look after the boys’ home he had moved on to. To the officer, The Salvation Army and the major who cared for him are the closest thing to family he has. He smiles when he explains why he comes back to the girls’ home rather than stay in a more comfortable hotel – he is home.
Felix Wood works in the Projects and Development Office of The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters