Written by Theresia Tyas Thea Kirana, Program Coordinator Intern Project Child Indonesia
Do you ever wonder how the world looks like when humans are all the same? We have the same skin colors, same hairstyle, same body shapes, or even the same belief. Close your eyes. Visualize that on your mind. Take a reflective moment for a second. Do you feel weird? Okay, stop visualizing it and get back to our reality, where people from a whole lot of different backgrounds are living on the same planet Earth and we are one of them. I am one of those different people, and you are one of them, too. It is heartbreaking to see people disliking or even bullying and harming others who are not from the same background as them. What is the root of those wicked actions? Are we born with the feeling of hating things or people that are different from us?
According to the argument stated in the United Nation article on International Day for Tolerance which says that people are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe. As a global commitment, International Day for Tolerance is observed annually on 16 November since 1995 to promote tolerance. Project Child Indonesia (PCI) supported and celebrated the diversity among its workers and the beneficiaries by seeing the differences as something powerful that can make people do something good, one action is by making a project called The Child Ambassador for Tolerance.
PCI, as an NGO that works with children and people from the riverside communities, wants to see and educate the children living in Sekolah Sungai communities about the importance of diversity and how to cherish our differences in ethnicity, race, and religion. Thankfully, the matters happen to be the same thing as Williams-Sonoma Indonesia (WSI) has been campaigning about social justice, and the WSI inspired by Sekolah Sungai Program. Therefore PCI and WSI collaborate and initiate this project in September-October 2020.
The weekly mentoring classes were conducted for four weeks and closed with ceremony and campaign activities. In the beginning of the project, the volunteers got a chance to meet Dr. Diah Kusumaningrum, one of the lecturers in International Relations Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), to understand more about what tolerance is about and how to persuade children to be aware and understand about tolerance and diversity from their own experiences. This activity is a training activity to prepare volunteers to become facilitators before going to the field.
The implementation of this project involves 5 (five) child representatives from each location to be fostered as ambassador. Four weeks mentoring classes accompanied by facilitators simultaneously in three river communities. During each class, the volunteers and the children were discussing the experiences they are facing in daily activities related to living in a diverse community. They also met some invited people from Rote, Ambon, and Central Sulawesi. Through the meeting with three different people from different backgrounds, we encourage the children to ask anything about diversity and experience by themselves about another culture. Later, the children made some posters related to the knowledge they have gained during the project, they also practiced the message of their poster in front of the other children and volunteers. The mentoring class activities concluded with a closing ceremony and on-site campaign in each river and digital campaign for the public.
If there is one thing that we can learn from this project, as one of the invited persons said, prejudice is learned and not inevitable. Children can learn and relearn about toleration, it is the environment that shapes our being as a human to have our own perspective. Our perspective may vary, but the key is to celebrate and embrace diversity and use it as our tool to live our best life with other people. As the tagline of this project says, let’s do each other’s favor by “Menyayangi, Berempati, Wujudkan Harmoni!”