On Indonesia's Halmahera Island
Geography & Climate
- Indonesia is an archipelago in Southeast Asia consisting of 17,508 islands (6,000 inhabited) and straddling the equator.
- It is the world’s largest country comprised solely of islands.
- The biggest islands are Sumatra, Java (the most populous), Bali, Kalimantan (Indonesia's part of Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), the Nusa Tenggara islands, the Moluccas Islands, and Irian Jaya (also called West Papua), the western part of New Guinea.
- Indonesia, part of the “ring of fire,” has the largest number of active volcanoes in the world. Java, for example, has 50 active volcanoes.
- The topography of Indonesia’s islands varies but consists mainly of coastal lowlands. Some of Indonesia’s larger islands (Sumatra and Java, for example) have large interior mountains.
- Natural disasters, especially earthquakes, are common. On Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.1 to 9.3 magnitude earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean, triggering a large tsunami that devastated many Indonesian islands.
- Indonesia’s climate is tropical with hot and humid weather in lower elevations. In the highlands, temperatures are more moderate.
Indonesia’s economy centers on agriculture and industry. The main agricultural products include rice, coffee, sugarcane, palm oil, poultry and pork.
Indonesia’s largest industrial products include petroleum, plywood, rubber, textiles and cement.
Indonesia’s economy is helped by its strategic location along major sea lanes from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
Today Indonesia is a growing tourist hotspot because of its tropical landscape in places such as Bali.
The child labor (ages 5-14) rate stands at 7 percent.
The average annual household income is U.S.$5,000.
The population living below the poverty line is 11.7 percent.
Throughout the country, 16 percent of the population lives on U.S.$1.25 per day or less.
Children at Home
Homes of impoverished families in Halmahera are typically made of wood or cement blocks, with metal or thatched roofs.
These houses usually must accommodate several members of an extended family.
During the religious-based conflict between 1999 and 2000, many homes were burned, with ruins still visible around the island today. Since then, families have largely restored their lives, and stability has returned.
Issues and Concerns
- Families in Halmahera suffer the effects of frequent earthquakes, flooding and volcanic activity.
- One of the island’s three volcanoes, Dukono, located on the northernmost peninsula, is active.
- In 2007, all three disasters – flooding, volcanic eruption and earthquake – struck the island, affecting thousands of lives.
- Ongoing tension between Muslims and Christians is another issue. Although relatively peaceful today, 1999-2000 was a period of violence between the two groups throughout the Maluku region of Halmahera.
Countless homes of Christians and more than 400 churches were destroyed. Many Christians of Halmahera fled to other islands for safety.
By the end of the conflict, there were more than 500,000 refugees and 6,000 deaths.
Local Needs and Challenges
Most of Halmahera’s children are from families that live in poverty and cannot adequately meet their basic needs. Their fragile homes are under constant threat from natural disasters.
Children frequently suffer from neglect and abuse.
People have limited access to medical assistance.
A lack of post-secondary schools limits educational opportunities.
Schools and Education
- Children in Halmahera typically attend school for nine years, starting at age 6 in elementary school and ending at age 15 after junior high.
- No higher education opportunities exist on the island.
- Any young person who wants to continue education beyond secondary school must go to a larger island. For poor families of Halmahera, this is not an option.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
In partnership with local churches, Compassion strives to meet the pressing needs of Halmahera’s impoverished children and provide them the resources and learning opportunities to rise above poverty.
To fight malnutrition, children are provided nutritious meals.
They also receive the health checkups and medical attention their parents can’t afford.
All children are provided the uniforms, fees and supplies required to attend school. Center workers provide the children with extra tutoring, which encourages them to stay in school and excel in their studies.
The children’s formal education is supplemented by Compassion’s own curriculum, which addresses all facets of life: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.
In monthly meetings, center staff discuss with caregivers the importance of children completing their education. Parents also learn valuable childrearing skills.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need on Halmahera Island, providing them with:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- health and hygiene training
- access to special services like surgeries and disaster relief
- mentoring to help children discover their incredible value as God’s children