Travelling to Indonesia in the Summer after my second year studying Youth and Community Work at Cardiff Met has to be one of the best experiences I have had. Myself and three other youth work students had the opportunity to travel to Kampus Diakonia Modern (KDM), as part of our professional placement hours for the degree. KDM is an organisation that works with street children in Jakarta, Indonesia. The experience was exciting, challenging and lots of fun and gave me the opportunity to apply skills I have learnt on the course, and bring home many more!
I found out about KDM through a fellow student Lee Wright, who had met staff from KDM on a previous trip abroad. As someone with a keen interest in travel when I heard that other students were looking to go to Indonesia I was in! We each applied for a go-global grant of £500, booked our flights and were ready to go. (But not before a thorough risk assessment from our lecturer Louise Cook who made this whole experience happen!)
A placement to remember
KDM is a non-government organisation set up to protect vulnerable children in Indonesia who have been neglected, abused or have no families. This leads them to a life begging on the streets and vulnerable to exploitation. KDM aims to give these children back their childhoods, providing food, accommodation, alternative education and a safe, caring environment.
The staff at KDM couldn’t have been more welcoming. They were interested to find out how the experience could support our studies and what we could do to help them. We worked with a range of ages, from kindergarten students to paid staff. Whilst there we ran healthy relationships sessions and video workshops. During the first week of our stay we learnt more about what the organisation does and working with children who are participating in the street child football tournament. We also taught children & staff English and about Wales. The experience provided a cultural exchange, we brought Wales to KDM and in return had a great insight to traditional Indonesian culture including dancing, music and of course, my favourite thing, food!
Days were long, rewarding and full of laughter. From experiencing the alternative education programme in KDM which included yoga, logic lessons and lots of optional modules, I learnt how we could better support some of the most marginalised children and young people in the UK. I saw how despite the extreme poverty and traumatic pasts experienced by the children, KDM was like a family, with the support, kindness and occasional disagreement every family has.
A learning curve
Seeing and experiencing youth work in a global context has stretched me and improved my confidence and employability. The youth & community degree equips you with skills to work with young people who haven’t had the best start in life. It builds your confidence, teaches you the reasons behind poverty and disadvantage and how you can support young people who have been through trauma. However, the theory is only the starting point and only by having new experiences like those I had at KDM do you really begin to develop professionally.
So what was my biggest take-home? How we can be more welcoming and kind to those with less at home. Without sounding too cliché, ‘money can’t buy you love’, and sharing, forgiveness and a good helping of humour seemed to be key to the contented lives of the KDM community.