May 20, 2013

Vee: A Child With A Mother’s Heart

My name is Vee. I am 9 years old. I live in Pedongkelan, Central Jakarta. I sing and beg on the streets. If I don’t, my mother will beat me.

I have many siblings. My mother is not home. I take care of my younger sister and brother. My two older brothers are with my grandma. My older sister, Dah, has been adopted by somebody else.  My grandma cannot take care of so many children. That is why I have to take care of my younger sister and brother. I don’t mind as I love them and want to care for them.

My mother is a street singer. My father left us because my mother has another man. I miss my father. He always encouraged me to go to school to learn. He always cared for us. He is my hero. I hope that I will be with him one day.

This is the stairs to my home. The money I earn pays for the rent. Our home is very small and we cannot cook or take our baths. So I have to buy food. I hardly take a bath because where I live there are very few public toilets. You have to pay Rp1.000,- (15 cents Singapore) for a bath.

I attend Grade 4 in an elementary school but I cannot attend school every day. I only have 1 set of uniform. If my mother doesn’t wash my uniform I cannot go to school. Anyway, it doesn’t matter to me. I am tired. I have to earn at least Rp 100.000,- (S$13) every month for our rent.

Every morning until afternoon, I beg on the bridge. When I am tired I sleep on the pavement. I beg at the bridge to avoid the police.

From afternoon until midnight, I have to be a street singer. I get more money from singing. I go to Cempaka Mas and stand at the side of street. When the traffic light turns red, I will go to the side of the car and sing. Sometimes I will go up a bus to sing.  But I must be careful. The police will come and catch me. I am also afraid of a gang of boys. They will ask me for money.

When I earn extra money I will not tell my mother. Why should I tell her? She will beat me anyway. I take the money to buy food for my sister and brother.

I go to Care Channels Learning Centre at Ruko Cempaka Mas with my sister and brother. We go every Saturday and Sunday. After learning at the Learning Center, we eat rice. I also join the Sunday School of Yabes Ministry and Care Channel’s Learning Centre.  I enjoy learning with the other children.

My older sister, Dah, is under the CCI’s education sponsorship. She has been adopted by Ibu Lina, the leader of Yabes Ministry. Ibu Lina said she wants to adopt me too. I hope so. I want to be like Dah. She is so clean and smells so nice and looks so beautiful.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I do NOT want to be like my mother.

Story by Briggitte Chandrawidjaya, Kristin Maryati and Wong Kah Wei

Vee, a portrait of a little girl who became a mother to her siblings

Poem by Briggitte Chandrawidjaya; edited by Wong Kah Wei

She was a child

With wavy hair and shabby clothes

But her eyes could not lie

She was a kid, a 9 year old kid

Facing a tough and cruel life

Busking and singing on the streets

Begging and sleeping on pavements

Because that was what her mother asked her to do


Education Sponsorship, Empowering (INDO), Holistic (INDO), Indonesia, Tutorial Centre