By Noor Syed, a member of the current SkillCorps team in Indonesia
Yesterday, our first day in Jakarta, was a much needed rest day. I definitely felt like it was needed after traveling for 24 hours (!!), but after meeting with the amazing ladies from Hi5 Centre and discussing all that we want to get done in the next 11 days, that thought was even more reinforced. Meeting Shinta, Rani, Hotik, and Visnu, was incredible. These strong women, with a little guidance and assistance from the Global Autism Project, are determined to make a change in the world by helping children in Indonesia with special needs learn and grow. Shinta and her team are not only working to educate children with autism, they are also working to educate parents of children with special needs as well as the Indonesian community in general. I cannot help but feel so much respect for Shinta, Rani, Hotik, and Visnu for taking on such a huge task. I find that in the time I am taking to think about our meeting and type this, my respect for the Hi5 team continues to grow and I am so happy to be a part of these changes and developments.
I look back at my notes from this morning’s meeting and I reread the first paragraph of this post knowing that I sound so excited and hopeful. I am excited to see changes and hopeful I can contribute to the growth of the Hi5 Centre clinicians. I am excited to contribute to such a worthwhile cause and am hopeful that the tools we will help Hi5 develop will one day be monumental in allowing a child with special needs to learn to his or her fullest potential. I am excited to be part of such a wonderful team and hopeful that what we help to put in place will be impactful and sustainable. On Day One I am just full of excitement and hope and the wheels in my mind cannot stop turning about all the things (as our trip leader would say) that the SkillCorps team can do while we are here.
I also know however, that as excited and hopeful as I am to do all the things, we as a team will be lucky if we manage to fulfill 75% of the goals the Hi5 Centre and the SkillCorps team developed this morning. In fact I rather suspect that we will be lucky to meet even 50% of our goals, which will undoubtedly set us up for some disappointment and heartache or, as our founder Molly says, a case of the Middle Mondays. As big as I dream, I know Shinta and the Hi5 Centre dream even bigger. As much as we strive for the Hi5 Centre to thrive, Shinta and her team strive that much harder. The fact of the matter remains, however, that we are only here for 11 more days. That is approximately 264 hours or about 1/3 of a month. Not very much time at all to make changes. But what I have realized on this trip so far is that we are not really here for just 11 days, 264 hours, or 1/3 of a month. We are here every day as the Hi5 Centre learns and achieves the knowledge they need, or, in most cases, realize that they already have. We are with the Hi5 Centre every moment as they will also undoubtedly teach us valuable life lessons on teaching and starting a centre for children with disabilities in a country where autism is not well-understood or known. And we will be coming back again and again to continue building this knowledge, growth, partnership, and learning. Even if it will not be this particular team, it will be another team of wonderful clinicians who will build upon the strategies our SkillCorps Indonesia October team has put in place, just as we have been building upon the work of previous amazing teams.
So although I realize we will not get to everything we want to do and there will be many stones left unturned, I also realize—I am okay with that. I am okay with that because while I see the long-term goal I also see each short-term goal that will lead to Shinta and Hi5’s dreams coming true, each baby step that goes further and further in helping children in Indonesia with special needs learn. To reference a story shared by Molly during our orientation we are chipping away at a block not just to work or to make that block fit in with others, we are chipping away at a block to build a beautiful cathedral. Every effort and every baby step is truly meaningful and if we can move one baby step closer to our goal on our trip, we have helped build this cathedral. It is for this that I am excited and hopeful… and, really, very, very lucky.