East Java embraces its children

Hundreds mark National Children's Day in a remote area of Pacitan Regency with speeches, games, prizes and hope for a better future.

By Yenny Herawati for Kabar Southeast Asia in Pacitan, East Java

September 10, 2012
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Together with their parents, some 600 children from villages in East Java's Pacitan Regency gathered on August 29th to mark National Children's Day, or Hari Anak Nasional (HAN).

  • Approximately 600 children gathered at Sanggrahan village's hall in Pacitan, East Java to celebrate National Children Day on August 29th. They enjoyed games and pastries, and parents renewed their commitment to protect and educate the future generation. [Yenny Herawati/Khabar].

    Approximately 600 children gathered at Sanggrahan village's hall in Pacitan, East Java to celebrate National Children Day on August 29th. They enjoyed games and pastries, and parents renewed their commitment to protect and educate the future generation. [Yenny Herawati/Khabar].

Residents of Sanggrahan village spent weeks preparing for the event, held there for the first time.

"Usually HAN used to be held at the district office, but this time it was held in the village hall of Sanggrahan. In remote areas like this, it is very rare for most children to have an opportunity to celebrate HAN," village leader Triono Adna told Khabar Southeast Asia.

HAN is an important national event, usually held July 23rd but postponed this year since that date fell during Ramadan, according to Sugeng Wahyudi, head of Kebon Agung district.

"Our future is in their hands; we must pay attention to our children regarding their education, talent, and their happiness," he said.

Yet there are still many cases of child abuse and child rights violations happening in the community for various reasons, Sugeng noted.

"We have seen many children have to work at a very early age due to their parent's economic situation. Often children are forced to work to help the family. They lost the opportunity of enjoying their childhood but also they can feel pressure physically and psychologically. So today is a reminder," he added.

Sugeng urged parents to do their job to educate and guide children, so they will be healthy physically and mentally. He encouraged parents to help children be creative, spiritual, and principled so they do not give up easily in the face of challenges.

Sugiono Susanto, a consultant at Karna Kasih Foundation in nearby Madiun, represented several local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that supported National Children's Day in Pacitan.

"The problem of children in Indonesia is very complex, just as in many other developing countries. Therefore, we need to work together so that our contributions can change the situation in a better direction," Sugiono told Khabar during the event.

"My hope, through this momentum, is that we can raise public awareness and be more concerned about the future of our children," Sugiono said.

Hundreds of children, parents and villagers crammed the hall to hear a speech by Triono in which he urged children to embrace their curiosity and to learn more about science, math, and other important subjects.

But it wasn't just speeches for children. Various games, contests and edible goodies made it fun.

"I did not expect this big event in our village. It was great. There are a lot of competitions, lots of prizes and lots of pastries. My son is very happy. Hopefully, this event can be held every year," said Sumartin Marfuah, mother of five-year-old Bondan Mulaynto.

The day closed with advice from Wibowo Eko Prabowo, leader of the nearby Nggembuk village.

"Parents should be role models for children. Do not require a child to be cautious and honest if the parents are not. Children follow what is done by the parents. So they are obliged to pay attention, to nurture and educate children," he said during the closing ceremony.

"I beg you all, from this moment forward, keep our children safe and stop all forms of violence against them," he said.

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