Balikpapan like many Indonesian towns has a number of orphanages. I know of 5 and I am pretty sure there are probably more. Many children labelled as ‘orphans’ within these institutions do in fact have a family, however they have been placed in care as their families are destitute and unable to take care of them. Certainly at one of the orphanages I regularly visit the youngest child has a father, however when the mother died, the father left the child at the orphanage & has had no contact since.
According to the Jakarta Globe 2/3/14 throughout Indonesia there are an estimated 8000 orphanages. Ten are government run, 200 are run by regional governments and the remaining are privately funded institutions. Of these remaining institutions it is estimated 2000 do not have the requisite permits to operate as orphanages. Indonesia does not have a standard for building orphanages, this could account for why one of the orphanages is build over a tidal swamp. While it has been suggested that ideally an orphanage should have a playground, hygienic toileting facilities, a reasonable food supply & adequate sleeping facilities for toddlers, children and adults, many fall well short of these ideals. With one of the institutions haves the children sleeping in shipping containers.
For all that we would wish for more for these children, the thing that I notice at the orphanages I have been to is the children are clothed, fed and have a roof over their heads. They are able to attend school and some children are able to stay on at the orphanage longer to enable them to go onto tertiary studies. The children are polite and as rowdy as their peers.
I was extremely fortunate to be invited to do a book reading at Panti Ashan Tamariska (Tamariska Orphange) which is sponsored by Balikpapan International Women’s Association. I’m not sure who enjoyed the time together more, the children or myself.