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Investing in the Underpriviledged

Anis, after his clef palate surgery

Anis, after his clef palate surgery

Anis, a 6 year old boy, can only stand in silence, – heartbroken as he saw his face in the mirror. His facial cleft had repeatedly given him burdens too much to bear at his tender age. His self-esteem had hit rock bottom, making him completely unable to focus on his study.

When the future gets bleak and hope always seems so far away, a helping hand is called for. Such is the belief that underlines a non-profit organization which has been working silently from in Jakarta since the year 2004.

Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation (PHMF) is a non-governmental organization who works to fund local foundations who posses similar vision, which is children welfare, especially from the marginalized group. It all started from an idea to remember the late Priscilla Hall, an Australian woman who had a special concern to children’s lives in Indonesia. As it evolved, PHMF has served as a vehicle re-liven the legacy of hers. Not only as a discourse, but also as concrete and actual steps.

“Our main focal point lies in health and education, two very crucial yet often ignored things in the lives of the children in Indonesia” so explained Leonnie Flora, PHMF’s field manager, when met in Jakarta some time ago. These vital areas then get manifested in the funding of social works in the likes of the building of orphanages, crisis centre and schools for street children.

The foundation also works together with other institutions such as Australian & New Zealand Association (ANZA) and Mary’s Cancer Kiddies in establishing free health services. Their collaborations have resulted in clef palate surgery, neurofibroma, tumor, meningoceles, pigmented naevus and cancer treatment.

That was the very reason why Anis can now smile and say, “Future, here I come!” Because for him, the clef palate surgery he underwent some time ago with the help of PHMF does not only mean a mere aesthetic facial reconstruction. For him, the act represents a recovery of his broken confidence. This will enable him to have an intact self-image to go to school and study for his dreams just like any other child.

This kind of moments, -according to Leonnie, is a poignant and worthy point of reflections. As she put it, “When we realize that what we’ve done is not just a donation, but also an investment; we get reminded that each of us could do a part to change the future of a child.” This is exactly the dimension where PHMF moves, to kindle the spark of the citizen’s social concern that we can invest in the future of another fellow human being.

One of the education investments that had created the greatest impact is when PHMF joined hands with The Goodwill International Foundation under its Leadership Development Scholarship program. What they were doing was helping bright kids to pay for their study and daily living costs at Universitas Indonesia and Institut Pertanian Bogor. Yet as the title of the program clearly states, the true meaning lies on the integrated approach to prepare them to be future leaders of Indonesia.

Realizing that there are other important aspects of children development, PHMF also works to help them build their social skills. As in the year 2009 for instance, the children were encouraged to participate in sports, art and technology-related activities. Just like when the foundation introduces the children to Yard Ball. This is a sport from Australia which is very similar to softball and designed to help children to learn teamwork, simple and peaceful problem-solving.

“The year 2010 will prove more challenging to PHMF, as we will continue the program to give some orphanages access to computers and Internet,” Leonnie continues. “We want them to not only be fluent in operating computer and its software like conventional curriculum dictates. We want the Internet to serve as a window for them to open positive opportunities it might offer.” Promptly, an agenda and schedule was prepared to train the orphanages’ staff for computer and new media skills. In turn, they can then transfer their knowledge and skills to help the kids gain maximum benefit from the program.

It might be an over-simplification to call this humanism. Nevertheless, PHMF perseveres to move progressively because of one belief : that every offspring of mankind deserves a right to grow, develop and access to opportunities to the highest extent possible.


Copy (in Bahasa Indonesia and Engish by: Fajar Jasmin)


Published in Bahasa Indonesia for an Advertorial in BusinessWeek Indonesia.

Many thanks to Robert Eskapa and BusinessWeek for this publication.


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