Poverty in Jakarta - Part 1/3

This is the first post of my intended 3-part series on poverty.
I hope to increase awareness and understanding of what others are going through…


I’m sure you might have heard of this before:

Jakarta is known for their jarring and stark rich-poor divide.

People making a living selling food on their kaki lima (cart stalls) for just 10 - 18,000 rupiahs per plate (USD $1.2), right in front of a grand mega-mall with tenants like Dior, Balenciaga, Celine…. Or people living in makeshift houses about 50sqm, right behind posh landed-properties more than 600sqm replete with a swimming pool and a garage which fits 2 - 4 cars.

It is indeed very sobering coming from a first-world country like Singapore, where most people take things for granted, and complain about almost everything, slamming Nas Daily for praising us when we park our cars in an orderly fashion… (geez, people, have you even been to other countries where cars are parked anywhere everywhere in the middle of nowhere??)

That said, having a “sobering” (visual) experience and learning to be grateful doesn’t change anything.

You’ll have to be on the ground with these folks, and talk to them to truly understand what they are going through, and how we can help them.

I had the privilege of volunteering for a non-profit organization called Kampung Kids , teaching 4 - 6 year old kids arts & craft on a weekly basis. The org sponsors children education, raises awareness on birth control, and has a Feeding Programme.

I noticed there were quite a few expat housewives who devoted their time to volunteer, but I felt that what we were doing was just a drop in the ocean. I requested to meet with a full-time staff from the org, a local named Julia who kindly met up with me to answer my questions, and here’s what I learnt:

  1. The parents of these children struggle to pay for their education and/or education supplies. In Jakarta, you have to pass an entrance test in order to enter elementary school (6 - 12 years old), and if the kids do pass, they get to enjoy free education in the government school. BUT, their next struggle will be trying to afford expenses like shoes, stationery, books, socks, bag, and school uniforms - note they have to buy 4 sets of uniforms, coz it’s 1 different set/day.

    It is no wonder I saw a student on the street, with everything but a pair of shoes (see blog post title image). I guess in when it comes down to that amount of $$ you have left, shoes are the least in priority.

  2. And those who don’t make it into government elementary school, they will have to go to private school, and that costs 1.4 juta (rupiah) a year for elementary level. What’s that in Singapore dollars? Just SGD $140 a year. In USD? Just USD $99 a year. For us first world people, 1.4 juta is less than a 1 night stay when we go on a vacation, and yet there are many parents who are unable to afford that for their children.

    Why is that so? Let me show you:


The above is just one of the profiles of the children requiring sponsorship , and this is a typical family situation:

Dad is the only sole breadwinner. Dad has irregular income as driver OR earns 1 - 2.5 juta/month (USD $70 - $175/month). The family stays in a rental flat which costs nearly 1 juta/month (USD $70). Dad has to feed an entire family with 2 kids or more.


Below you will see part of an email that was sent to me by Julia. The org offers feeding programmes as well, and what stood out to me was the part where she said they had to ensure the kids finish the food, otherwise they would surely bring it home to share with their siblings, thus missing out on their much needed nourishment! sigh

feeding prog.png


People, there are families out there in the world who are struggling by no fault of their own, let’s not forget about them!!!

It’s alright if we are unable to give our time / $$ due to whatever circumstances, but let’s keep talking about them to others, so that the more privileged can have a chance to pay it forward!

If you would like to help Kampung Kids and their efforts, you can:

  1. Sponsor a kid for school (1.4 juta/year)

  2. Sponsor a day of Feeding Programme (4 juta/day)

  3. Volunteer to teach the children (1 hour/week)

  4. Donate (any amount) to their school building programmes (yes they are also helping to build elementary schools)

Contact me and I can link you up to the staff in charge to get things going!

Thanks for reading guys, I’ll be writing about poverty with a soc-psych perspective which came to me whilst I was teaching these kids (Part 2) and in Part 3 I’ll be documenting my meet-ups with the families of the children that my friends and I have sponsored. Stay tuned!