Olivia Crosby volunteered with the Wins Foundation, an orphanage in Indonesia, while studying abroad. Read more about this organization and Olivia’s experience.
Wins Foundation was founded in 2004 by Ketut Sadia. While welcoming my peers and I, the founder of Wins Foundation started to explain why he opened this orphanage. While living in Ubud Ketut he would always see these two little boys walk up and down the street. On many occasions he reminisced about seeing them beg people for money. After seeing this he took it upon himself to ask them where their parents were and why haven’t he seen them go to school. The older one answered,
“Our parents are dead and our grandmother looks after us.” He continued to explain how his grandmother didn’t have enough money to send them to school or feed them. This touched Ketut’s heart and decided to bring them home to see if there was anything he could do.
His next step was to see if he could help these two little boys get enrolled in school. Eventually they were able to get enrolled and Ketut made sure they had money to eat. After taking care of the kids they became his own sons in his eyes. He would eventually adopt the two little boys after their grandmother died. Along with adopting these two little boys Ketut heart was somewhere else. He decided to build up an orphanage for the less fortunate in his neighborhood. (Unlike the United States, when a child is born mentally ill in Bali they feel that it is a curse and many of the parents try to kill the child because they believe the child would bring bad luck to the other family members.)
The orphanage currently has 98 orphans, 26 of them are mentally disabled. The mentally disabled consisted of girls and boys with autism, cerebral palsy and down syndrome. They ranged from ages 2-18. The unique thing about this orphanage is that each kid has a sponsor who helps pay for them to go to school and helps build up their bank account. Each kid has their own email account, bank account and cashbook. Ketut also mentioned the main reason for this is to teach the kids to be independent and responsible by the time they have to go to a university. After learning about this I was thrilled to meet all the orphans.The director explained how there were three tasks on the agenda for the day. He decided to break the group up into three groups which varied from cooking, teaching dance and cleaning.
I was excited to watch the kids dance because I enjoyed dancing. When we first arrived to watch the group of kids they had all the boys up doing a dance routine to a Pitbull song. My first thought was how amazing it was to watch one of the kids memorize the whole dance and be able to direct the others. I was more amazed because the boy was in tune and made sure he did every step of the choreography.
Prior to coming to Wins Foundation, I was aware of what to expect from an autistic child, however, when I arrived and watched the kids dance I was amazed how they were so intelligent and enjoyed dancing. It also amazed me how all the kids had some special talent, which in my opinion made their performances more significant. I felt these kids were able to put on a show that touched our hearts not because they were mentally disabled, but more because it was coming from their hearts and I feel it made everyone look them as being normal.
One thing that touched my heart while watching these kids is the motivation and resilience enabled in them. They didn’t let their disability hold them back. One girl who suffers from down syndrome made me shed a tear after she performed. She was shy when we came to watch them dance and decided she wasn’t going to do her performance. I immediately asked the chaperon her name and told the other girls to chant her name to give her motivation to perform. As we chanted her name the others kids started to follow us and we were able to get her up to perform. She danced to Beyoncé’s Who Run the World song and she was a great dancer. I was tempted to get up and dance with her. After her performance she came up to me and gave me a hug. At this very moment tears started to come to my eyes because I was touched by how much passion and joy these kids had while dancing.
Another part of this trip that inspired me was when we were leaving and the orphans started to sing songs such as, You Are My Sunshine. The songs signified how thankful they were for us visiting. I was more emotional at this part of the trip because these kids were so touched by us and they showed so much respect toward us. I was also touched after I attempted to give the birthday boy a pack of biscuits and he turned it down. I’m so used to seeing kids accept snacks for their birthday that this little boy made me realize a difference between Western and Indonesia children. It also made me realize how fortunate I was to even be able to study abroad and know I have a place to go home to. Last I felt I will take this learning experience and use it to my parenting skills when I choose to have kids. The kids at this orphanage showed me that raising kids to never accept anything from someone or not to beg for things is the best way because it eliminates a kid from wanting everything they see.
Overall, the visit to the Wins Foundation allowed me to be thankful for everything I have and always reach out to others because the little things you do can touch someone’s heart. Visiting the Wins Foundation allowed me to see how younger kids can show so much appreciation and be grateful for things that they may only see once.
Also the kids at this orphanage opened my heart to give back to a good cause and sponsor a child. Reaching out to others has always been on my agenda, however, after visiting Wins I feel I should reach out to a different cause and that is the mentally disabled or kids who are abandoned. I feel this experience has expanded my multicultural growth because I’m able to take a lot from this trip and use it in my everyday life. I feel coming to Wins helped me develop a more open heart to working with kids other than juveniles. I feel this experience has opened doors that I could never see myself stepping into.
I plan to take another study abroad trip maybe to Africa or the Caribbean. I appreciate the Wins Foundation for inviting us and I feel I needed this experience because it has opened my eyes and heart to new things. I feel this was a great experience because it allowed me to watch how precious and joyful the kids were even though they were in an orphanage. Lastly, I have learned to be grateful for everything I have and take heed in letting things go that I can’t control.