Wealth is very unevenly distributed in Indonesia, remaining largely confined to the west of the country and to major cities. There are few facilities for children with disabilities, who usually stay on the fringes of society. Eye care is practically absent in many parts of the country. A complicating factor is that Indonesia consists of islands. Transportation is expensive and doctors are unwilling to practice in relatively isolated places. Educational and rehabilitation staff is not always willing to live where the demand is. It is a challenge to appeal to the government to take up its responsibility for care and education of persons with disabilities.
The production of Braille and audio (school) books in digital form by partner Mitra Netra went according to plan. The fundraising has improved a lot. This is important because the contribution of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD will decrease. In addition to the production of hundreds of thousands of Braille pages, nearly 14,000 CD-ROMs with voice textbooks were produced. Around 1,700 pupils in primary and secondary education benefit.
The introduction of inclusive education in Eastern Indonesia (Moluccas and southern Papua) by Bhakti Luhur is going well. Children with disabilities who did not attend school got a support plan that helps them to get along well in school regardless of their disability. The plan focuses primarily on children who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hearing impaired.
The number of cataract operations planned was almost achieved in the 14 eye hospitals of Perdhaki. The number of people helped with eye problems, eye tests and glasses exceeded the target. Turnover of trained personnel and lack of experienced ophthalmologists remains a problem. The hospitals have created a joint plan to cover three years. In this period, the transition will be made to independence for the program. Government plans for changing the financing of the health system provide opportunities to make the program sustainable.
The after-school program for children from the blind school in Bandung is on track. Because of outdated materials and graduation of some children, interest has waned. Purchase of new toys for creative therapy has sparked new enthusiasm. The volunteers who accompany the children remain committed. The children are learning additional skills which will come in handy in the future.
Involving the government in the work of the partners remains a challenge, yet it is necessary for the activities to be sustainable. Some partners have the right network, others face a bigger challenge. The degree of government support also depends on the type of work. Health care policies differ by region, making it more complex to design sustainable financial planning.
Since decentralisation, local authorities appear increasingly willing to support, for example, care and education for children with disabilities. Authorities in eastern Indonesia are very enthusiastic about inclusive education. There is health insurance for the poor, funded by the government, but because of red tape only a portion of the target group benefits. In the coming years, the financing of the health system will change.
Bhakti Luhur and Mitra Netra will increasingly have to rely on public and private donors. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD will help them in this transition process.