On July 17, I was able to visit the first, and still the only, library provided by Yayasan Usaha Mulia, or YUM, in the community of Cipanas, Indonesia. The families there consist of farmers, labor workers, and vegetable sellers at the markets.
When not in school, local youth have the opportunity to get tutored and participate in activities at the library like educational games, creative arts & crafts, and movies – when I arrived the children were making school schedules to take home. These included coloring, drawing, and cutting out shapes to make it their own while learning the days of the week. These youth were ages 6-12. The older kids were working on the computers, and the younger ones were drawing pictures. It was fun to see how each group of younger children had a general theme they decided to draw – one group drawing a home and another drawing elephants and fish. The library was colorful, encouraging creativity, safety, with the walls filled with books, dictionaries, novels, and more. I also saw the “boxes of books” which is part of the mobile library program for other communities’ schools. YUM’s goal is to add more schools to its current 2 where it provides books. These are the first “libraries” in these communities.
I asked the librarian what he did before working at this one, and he said he was a teacher at the government schools. He said the schools lacked expression and creativity for the children, so when he was introduced to the opportunity at YUM, he was happy to join.
After, I went on to see the vocational training program, the organic gardens, and meet the community. I met YUM’s bookkeeper. When he was in 4th grade he was orphaned, so he was brought to YUM’s center. He stayed in YUM’s program and now works for the organization. I asked him to describe YUM and he said, “a place where you are happy.” The first program I saw that day was the sewing class. This program teaches young adults to make clothes, bags, and using recycled scraps for creative products. I sat down with one of the students, a young man who hoped to one day become a tailor and design his own clothes. I then spoke with another young woman named Aji who was 16 and in her 3rd year of senior high school. I asked her why she took sewing class, and she said because she could make more friends and she wanted to be a professional designer. All of the youth explained to me when they are not in school they are usually helping the family or working. The classes had not only young women, but also a few young men working just as hard to develop skills for a career after.
Next, I sat in on the computer-training course. The 2 trainers were former students of the class themselves. The girl trainer explained to me she wanted to go to school, but after elementary her parents could not pay. YUM helped pay for her costs and now she loves math, hopes to share her knowledge, and to attend university to be a chemical engineer. She was an extremely bright and mature young woman still in high school. Aris, from YUM, explained to me 75% of youth going through the vocational training program receive jobs. If they don’t get a job, local youth marry young or become a domestic or labor workers.
Finally, the staff took me to visit the local community as well as explore the organic gardens planted by local schools and students. See the pictures in the slide show – it was such an incredible and inspiring experience to not only meet the children of Cipanas, but also to get to know the staff behind the impact-organization, YUM.