Indonesia, a beautiful country with happy, welcoming people. Flores, the largest of the Lesser Sundas in the east is mainly dependent on tourism, there are almost no other sources of income. Apart from the main tourist spots, the island, especially the rural areas are very poor. Rice and spice farming are the major source of income. A lot of Florenese go to Bali to find work in hotels, or go to Kalimantan to work on palm-oil-plantations.
Poverty is a major problem for the children of Flores who often cannot afford books, nor pens, paint or paper to draw on.
Given Käthe’s professional background – graphic design – we were shocked by the situation. How can creativity develop without access to art, to books and especially without access to the tools needed to be creative and, what is even more important, no information about the opportunities derived from creative work. Europe, in comparison, offers an overload of visual stimuli making it extremely difficult to find the exceptional, the special or simply the one thing that really draws your attention. Things are very different in Indonesia. Even though Flores has an extremely rich and versatile traditional culture, opportunities for artistic and creative activities are very rare.
For tourists, Flores and the area around Maumere especially, means a 2-weeks’ relaxing holiday, beach, sun, a snorkelling paradise. But for the local children there is nothing else apart from that. They have no chance to discover and to develop their talents.
Why is our Project so important?
We met many children who virtually went crazy as soon as we put pens on the table. They came back every day after school. Though some of them could not even draw simple objects, or lacked ideas of what to draw they would keep trying and did not want to stop. A small push towards a motif is often enough to encourage them, and to get their imagination going. And this is exactly what we want to do: encourage and support the children, give them a chance to test their capabilities and to develop and broaden their skills.
In Flores, support for creative skills in our western sense is almost non-existent. The children in the village, about 40 between 4-10 years, have learned to be independent very early on; they walk a lot earlier than western kids for example. Developing creativity as a life-skill, however, is not part of their education. This is why we want to lead them to a closer examination of their environment, ways to transform visual reality into something creative. We are convinced that these are very important life-skills, important for their adult life and applicable in many different situations, helping them to make good decisions.
What we do:
We organize creative afternoons for the children, not only focusing on colour and shape, but also providing basic English classes and offering educational books. Visiting the environment – beach, forest, and rice paddies – will be part of the creative classes.
Once a month we have a beach-clean-up-day. This means collecting stranded goods as well as cleaning the beach from rubbish and to raise awareness for the importance of environmental protection.
Eventually, we would like to get all the villagers involved, teens and adults, either by taking part in the classes or assisting in teaching activities or develop their own activities. They could also take part in social activities like beach cleaning. This would strengthen community ties, and support the development of individual talents.