Book shows solidarity with Aceh, Nias children

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
By nias

Thursday, May 19, 2005 Emmy Fitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With Jakarta kids now firmly belonging to the MTV generation, many fear they will grow up to be indifferent to others around them.

These fears, however, would seem to be little more than fears, as shown by 17 elementary school students who still dearly care about other people and even animals.

While the media and the public at large gradually lost interest in the tsunami and the earthquakes that struck Aceh and Nias, and moved on to no less depressing news from other parts of the country, the fifth graders of an elementary school in Jakarta did not forget.

From a mere school project, they wrote essays and published their compilations in a beautifully illustrated book in order to collect money for the victims.

"These essays were actually written for an environmental project as we were talking about endangered species in Indonesia," said Ann Hutchinson, a teacher with the private Mentari elementary school.

"We also showed a documentary on Papua in our classroom," said Ann.

Ibu Ann, as she is affectionately called, said that she helped edit the punctuation and grammar in her students' stories. "That's all. The story ideas and the flow of each story are originally the children's," Ann said.

One of the youthful authors, Kartika, who said that she loves to draw and write, and swims like a fish, gave a broad smile while nodding her head when asked if she cared about children whom she did not know personally.

Other students were seen nodding or smiling in affirmation when Dilla Amran, who acted as the emcee at the book launch on Sunday, announced to the audience that the book was "the children's way of helping their fellow children in Aceh and Nias."

"The proceeds from the sales of the book will all go to the children in Aceh and Nias. That's what they want. We are only helping to publish and sell this book, which is available in bookstores in Jakarta for Rp 50,000," Dilla from Jakarta Books told The Jakarta Post.

One thousand copies were printed in the initial run.

As the devastation and misery were, of course, far removed from the kids, they wrote about things they were familiar with: fables and stories on friendship, honesty and solidarity.

"I love small animals because they too exist and must be protected. That's why I wrote about a squirrel who helped a trapped tiger," Kartika said.

A huge fan of Green Day, Maura wrote about a baby gorilla that was brought up by a rat and later on — in Maura's words, after many long and boring years — began to believe that he himself was a rat. But the unfortunate gorilla finally discovered his own identity after an incident with a group of tigers.

"I heard about the situation (in Aceh and Nias) and it is good for us to be able to help them," Maura said when asked to comment on the charity effort.

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April 2005