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Indonesia: reflections on the Families First programme

Families First
Children taking part in the Families First Signature Programme in Indonesia

Last week, a group of Save the Children volunteers flew out to Indonesia to see first-hand how our Families First Signature Programme is transforming children’s lives.

East Anglia volunteer David Float has been blogging daily on the experience.

This morning we had our final session in Indonesia. We went to the Save the Children PDAK office in Bandung to discuss what we’d seen. At the meeting we spoke with Agus, Zaldy, Singit, Nisma, Leah, Sygit and our interpreter Datah.

Jeanette started by explaining that the volunteer visit had allowed her to see how a project was established and managed. She had realised that it was a complex structure with many possible problems that needed to be overcome and even more issues emerging.

The different stakeholders needed to agree there was a problem to be solved and be able to work together within social norms and to overcome any prejudices that may arise.

We all agreed that the project team had made good progress in the time they had been running and that we were inspired by the volunteers and felt that, as UK volunteers, we could learn from their practice.

As volunteers are a vital part of any project, it is important that they feel valued and supported by Save the Children.

Changing perceptions

Brian then went through what we’d thought about the Families First project before leaving the UK and explained how our perceptions have changed.

He talked about what the UK team thought the root causes of the situation were, citing poverty, a lack of suitable education, traditional attitudes in Indonesian society and the diversion of fuel subsidies to childcare institutions.

The PDAK team agreed but clarified a number of issues such as the fact that many families who are living in poverty do take very good care of their children.

They also said that lack of educational opportunities was more of a challenge for the rural communities such as Cinajur, a community we had visited on Thursday. They also highlighted how lack of skills – especially parenting skills – was a bigger issue.

Looking to the future

As a group, the discussions moved onto how the programme would move forward. The Indonesian team said that the collection of data, including documenting everything learnt from the project, was one of their main aims for 2015.

They had received approaches from two communities on different islands to roll out the programme. We all agreed this was evidence of the project being successful and replicable. They also agreed that working with other professionals such as journalists and social workers was important. They said that they would continue with their advocacy work on standards for fostering. Their key focus was to create and maintain good links with the local community.

The UK team then spoke about their plans on return to the UK. They all agreed that they now felt informed and inspired to tell people in the UK about the work of the Signature Programme. Finally Chris and Emily both agreed that they wanted to raise the profile of the Families First programme.

We are now bound for The UK via Abu Dhabi. This is the end of our trip – but it’s just the beginning of our work informing people of the Families First programme.

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