Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang
The sounds of laughter and cheerful chatter filled the air at the new school building for children with disabilities in Tangerang on Tuesday.
The students, most of whom are from low-income families, knew something different was going on because the campus of SLB Yanaiz had been decked out for the building's inauguration ceremony.
SIMPLE GESTURE: Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Kojiro Shiojiri shakes hands with a student of SLB Yanaiz, a school for disabled children and adults in Tangerang, as school founder Izak Timisela (center) looks on. The school’s new building was inaugurated Tuesday. (JP/Multa Fidrus)
Japanese Ambassador Kojiro Shiojiri presided over the ceremony at the campus on Jl. H. Ridwan, Bojong Poncol kampung in Pinang district, Tangerang municipality.
Tangerang officials also attended the event.
According to Shiojiri, the Japanese government had financed the construction project of the school under the Grassroots Program. The financial assistance amounted to US$85,994, he said.
"We want children with disabilities to be able to study at this school," he said.
Twenty-year-old Khalid, a fourth grader in a class for people with autism, said the new school building was closer to his home.
"I love the new classroom," Khalid said, who is suffering from hydrochepalus and needs regular medicine to control its symptoms.
The school's 123 students pay school fees of between Rp 5,000 (40 US cents) and Rp 10,000 each month.
"The most important thing is that I pay (school fees), no matter how much it is. The money is for the teachers' salaries," Khalid said.
SLB Yanaiz is managed by Erihatu Samasuru Lesuri Tapirone, a humanitarian foundation established by Izak Timisela in 2000.
"We started the school in a small rented house and now we have a three-story building with 12 classrooms, a health clinic, a kitchen, a teacher's office and a meeting hall, thanks to the Japanese government," he said.
Unfortunately, the classrooms have yet to receive new furniture so the students and teachers still use old desks and chairs. Some of the desktops even have holes in them.