According to UNICEF, 4.4 million children between the ages of 7 and 18 are unable to attend school in Indonesia. And it’s the poorest children who are most at risk of school exclusion. Children like Damar and Gian have come frighteningly close to joining these statistics. Thanks to their involvement in the Compassion center in Medan, they have received school supplies and tutoring. But even with educational support, kids in this region face difficult hurdles as they work to escape poverty and become financially self-sufficient. Damar is just 7 years old, but it’s hard for him to imagine his future as anything but a day-laborer like his father, struggling to provide the next meal.
Then he remembers Ryand.
Gaining Life Skills
Ryand, 22, lives in the dense city of Medan, Indonesia, with his parents and four siblings. Growing up in poverty, he received an unexpected helping hand when he was registered with his local church’s Compassion sponsorship program. Through Compassion, he was given the support he needed to succeed in both school and life.
“Not only cognitive skills; I learned leadership skills and public speaking as well,” he says. The abilities he cultivated at the center prepared him for his government job today.
In his community, working as an officer at the Bureau of Immigration is a remarkable achievement. As a child, he thought this kind of position was far out of reach. Even so, his parents encouraged him to be diligent in his studies, to work hard and leave the rest to God’s plan.
Ryand's father used to be a rickshaw driver before he had a stroke. He is now paralyzed and unable to work or do house chores. Ryand’s mother is a teacher and his source of inspiration.
“My mother was the one who inspired me to look for this job,” he says. “Discipline is the one thing that my mother always taught me because she’s a teacher.”
As Ryand grew, he learned that working hard is a matter of integrity.
Growing in Integrity
Ryand’s sense of integrity and honesty made him a strong role model and youth leader at the Compassion center. But it wasn’t easy to step into a leadership position among his friends and fellow students. “Being a leader means you have to be a good example to others,” he says. “It was hard to be an example to your own peers, [as] most of us are the same age.”
Yet he stuck to the task. Before graduating from the Compassion program, he actively contributed to his center, carefully splitting his time between volunteering and school. He encouraged others to attend the center, learn and strive to be their best.
Although Ryand has now graduated from the program, he still volunteers as a youth mentor. He loves to share his experiences with younger peers and pray with them.