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An Open Discussion Parent Meeting in Bayat

November 21st, 2019

The Titian Foundation scholarship programme aims to improve the quality of life of its student beneficiaries by empowering them with access to education. Aside from providing financial assistance, mentoring activities like character building for the direct beneficiaries, it also includea giving counselling to help parents create a conducive environment at own home to allow their student to evolve. One way of achieving this is through the mechanism of Parent Meetings.

For previous parent meetings, the sessions were arranged seminar-style, with specific topics. This year it was done differently. The meeting between our scholarship facilitators and the beneficiary parents/guardians were carried out in stages, to give time for two-way communication and more intimate discussions. The meeting for parents of Grade XI (Generation 11) students was held on November 12th and 13th and Grade X (Generation 12) on Tuesday and Wednesday 19th and 20th November. In these meetings, the scholarship facilitator explained all the activities that have been conducted with the students and an outline of how students have progressed. What followed was a discussion about how the students had progressed at home and any difficulties the patents had in guiding the students. In general parents saw a positive development in their children at home after they had participated in Titian activities. The students were more independent and responsible, but what still needs improvement is time management, setting priorities and emotional control.

For Grade XII (Generation 10) students, the parent meeting was held as one session on Thursday, November 21st. The topic of this meeting was preparing students after graduating general high school/vocational school, either subsequently pursuing tertiary education or joining the workforce. Parents are encouraged to support their children’s aspirations and still be receptive when their children experience failure. A testimony from a parent of Titian Foundation scholarship alumni from Generation 3, who nonetheless lives in financial limitations as a pedicab driver, said he gave full support to his daughter when she wanted to move to Jakarta and study Tourism in college and his daughter even got a double degree as a result of the collaboration programme with a university in Thailand. Another speaker in this session is a private university Lecturer of 19 years. She gave an overview about college life and the support needed by their children during those college years.

Teamwork and synergy are continuously being worked on so that the Titian programme can help its beneficiaries cross the bridge to a better quality of life. (FD)

Spreading Love with Stories

November 10th, 2019

Sunday, November 10th, 2019, was a fun day for the children of Nyanggit hamlet in Rembitan village, Central Lombok. How could it not be? After its residents all came together to clean the village, the boys of the village then bathed together in one of the nearby springs, called Mertak Tune. These two activities brought out the natural playfulness of the children with them joking and laughing together. After the children were clean the fun continued with a game of marbles. This age-old game is still played frequently by the children of Nyanggit.

That day was made even more special for the children due to a visit from the travelling community storytellers (Doing) from Solo, Central Java. This activity is a joint collaboration between Titian Foundation and the Women’s Reading Club (KBP). The group not only did a story-reading session with the children of Nyanggit, but also held a workshop on storytelling for the mothers. The group has conducted storytelling activities in several areas in North Lombok regency before. The group members are volunteers to this cause, devoting time, energy, thought, and even covering their own expenses for children and mothers of Lombok.

The children were very enthusiastic about participating in this storytelling session because they had never experienced it before. They were also amazed by how the storytellers can think up the stories so well and make them so enjoyable. A total of three stories were read. The tales told by the group facilitators were very persuasive with a lot of moral messages. For example, getting the children to protect the environment by putting trash into the dumpster and also to share and care for each other. They told their stories with lots of enthusiasm and creativity. In one fable of a monkey named Moli, one facilitator played the role of Moli, mimicking the sound and movements of a monkey just like a real one. The hilarious performance of the storytellers had the children bursting into laughter, obviously very entertained. The children were also invited to sing along and imitate song movements in between the stories. The songs were simple and related to the message or meaning of the story being told. One such song lyric was:

“When you see trash, you take, you throw it away … to where? … to the garbage bin”

After having fun with the children, the storytellers gave a storytelling workshop to the mothers. The storytellers shared knowledge about the types of tales, such as fairytales, fables, legends, folklore, etc. They were also introduced to simple storytelling techniques using simple props; hand puppets, and sticks as well as the types of intonation reflecting the character being played, facial expressions, body gestures, movements and songs. The storytellers also stressed the benefit of storytelling in the development of children’s imagination and thinking ability. Likewise, children are more receptive to moral messages or good values learned from stories so that, hopefully, these will be adopted in their daily lives ultimately developing their good character.

In addition to providing materials about storytelling, the mothers were given the chance to practice the techniques learned from the workshop. When the storytellers asked the mothers to practice storytelling, there was one elderly woman in the village of Nyanggit who then came forward and told a story using the Sasak language. It turns out she is very good at storytelling and knows a lot of Lombok folklore. She always reiterated Lombok folklore to her children when they were young, either before going to bed or in their free time. Unfortunately, the habit of storytelling is no longer practiced by younger generations. Mothers who took part in the workshop, for example – who are currently in their 30s and 40s – almost never tell stories to their children.

The habit of storytelling is an expression of the culture that needs to be preserved. The session with these storytellers brings enthusiasm and enlightenment about the importance of storytelling and the benefits of telling tales to children. It turns out that the practice of storytelling of these volunteer storytellers is a manifestation of their belief about “Spreading love with stories”. Titian wishes continuous success for these storytellers, hopefully the knowledge and enthusiasm brought to Nyanggit village can be replicated and implemented so as it can bring about positive change and at the same time preserve the expression of the culture. (TA)

CLC Rembitan Groundbreaking

August 29th, 2019

The sun is scorching early in the morning and the village is already busy getting ready for a selamatan (ceremonial prayers) following the placing of the first stone, marking the start of construction of Titian’s new CLC – Community Learning Centre – in the hamlet of Rebuk 1 in Rembitan village of Central Lombok district, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province.

The CLC sits on a 600 m2 land, bordered by villagers’ houses on one side and rice fields on the other sides with expected six to eight months to completion. Rebuk 1 hamlet is practically like a blank canvas. The people of Rebuk 1 has been long asleep – in their wretchedness. They have never imagined a better life, let alone dream big. Therefore, Titian aims to shake them up and empower them to get a better life. The CLC will be the source of this empowerment through informal education. It will be equipped with a library, computer lab and open room for hosting workshops or community’s get-together.

Our notes for the village so far, water and sanitation is a challenge. Education is a challenge. When you think there are enough challenges to work on, early marriages and adult illiteracy are also on the list.

It is common for elementary school students in this village to run off to tourist hangouts at nearby Kuta Mandalika beach after school selling small souvenir items like woven bracelets. Often they will only come home for a quick dinner then off again to tourist crowd area and stay until late at night so their family could have little money to support the next day necessities.

Titian has sent four farmers for a permaculture course in Imogiri, Yogyakarta in March 2019, so they can apply the patterns and resilient features observed in their land and transform it into productive resources such as biogas and organic fertilizer. However, its application is still slow due to limited water. Titian is partnering with Soroptimist International of Jakarta (SIJ) to overcome this water and sanitation issue.

The Sasak women of Rebuk 1 inherited the skill to weave, which also indicates that they are ready to be handed in marriage. A working group (Pokja) for tenun (weaved cloth) is currently being prepared to enhance their skill to tenun songket weaving, a type of weave that uses gold/silver threads. To give a fair perspective, the common tenun that women of Rebuk 1 used to do only involve one bamboo-stick, but tenun songket may require up to one hundred bamboo-sticks. The complexity of the skill needed is intimidating even to the skilled weaver. Titian deems that with this apprenticeship, these women will not only improve their weaving skills and therefore their income potential but also most importantly – their self-esteem. This tenun songket training is also sponsored by SIJ.

Lombok is the first site that Titian venture outside Java island. It will be a long steep journey and Titian welcome donors and partners who share the same passion to improve the well-being of the underprivileged.