Learning, Growing, and Learning to Grow
"I used to hang around on the streets, getting a little money by singing and performing for people. I was lazy. This place, the Learning Farm, has changed my life," says Dedi Sudhandi, a 22-year old resident at the Learning Farm. Dedi, and 29 other young men, former street kids, are learning about organic farming and building skills that will enable them to have a productive future.|
Students take responsibility for tasks related to running the farm and learn new skills through hands on training. All activities and lessons at the Learning Farm take a "learning by doing" approach. Launched by World Education in 2005 with funds from a private donor, staff and advisors have developed a curriculum that teaches core skills such as math, literacy, computers, English, and life-skills, within the day-to-day context of communal living and organic farming. The boys produce organic vegetables for their own consumption, and sell the remaining produce and products to a consumer network of individuals, stores, offices and schools. Students at the Learning Farm also make and sell handicrafts that emphasize the use of recycled and minimal environmental impact materials. Eventually, boys with sufficient experience will develop small spin-off farming enterprises of their own.
Of course, all this does not happen without dedication, guidance and no small amount of physical and mental labor. "These urban youth have started to handle unfamiliar tools such as pitchforks, machetes, and hoes to clear land, make compost, and plant beds. They regularly wake up before 6 in the morning to farm, later collectively reflecting on and evaluating what they've learned and keeping personal accounts of the process. The shift from an urban lifestyle, with a largely undefined schedule, easy money and little responsibility to others, to life in a tightly-knit community in its pioneer phase, has been difficult, but the willingness of these guys to engage in this process is encouraging and exciting," observes Jiway Tung, Director of The Learning Farm. He ought to know: he is right alongside them, day in and day out.
Through their experience on the Learning Farm, Dedi (right) and his friend Dewa have become optimistic about the future. "I am learning how to save money and plan for my future," says Dedi, who has lived at the Learning Farm since January 2006. "I had no rules and when I got money I spent it immediately. Now, I appreciate the structure here. I have to get up early and work hard, but I am learning too. There is discipline here and I am realizing that discipline is important for my future. I am optimistic that what I am learning here will enable me to become a consultant in organic farming."
The majority of Indonesia's youth are caught in a cycle that is anchored by poverty, and perpetrated by a lack of education, skills and opportunity. World Education's Learning Farm is making it possible for some of Jakarta's street children to lead healthy, happy and productive lives, through environmentally conscientious and sustainable development. World Education is helping youth like Dedi learn how to cultivate the land, their minds, and their bodies.
|Related Project: The Learning Farm (2012-2015)|