When I received an announcement that the World Peace Prayer Society, an NGO at the UN, was having another Peace Pals art competition for children, I immediately thought of the children I see every day in some of the poor neighborhoods of East Jakarta. Ever since my internship in 2013 with Sr. Joan Kirby rscj, who at that moment was the NGO Representative at the UN for the Temple of Understanding, I have looked for ways to connect our children who live in extreme poverty with the work of the UN. This invitation was a real chance.
The theme of the art competition was “Building the World with Peace.” I went to about ten (10) basic communities in Jakarta where people are predominantly Muslim, and two villages in Flores where they are Catholic. It was fascinating to see that most of the children drew peace between Muslims and Christians, or peace among people from different racial backgrounds. They worked so hard and some drawings are really very good and interesting.
After finishing his drawing, one boy asked me," Ibu Ino, when are we going to America?" I answered, "It is not the person who goes to America, only the drawings go to America." I could see many puzzled children's faces, "How can pictures go to America by themselves?" Nobody had internet access!!!!
Unfortunately, no drawing was selected for a prize. All of us at FAKTA (an NGO) were a bit disappointed, but it had still been a very good opportunity for our children. For the first time they had to think about PEACE, that PEACE in the WORLD is necessary, and that it starts in each one's family. They are now more interested in what is happening in the world.
Although nobody was awarded an official prize, we needed to recognize their efforts, so when Cecile Meijer rscj visited us in Indonesia recently, I asked her to honor the children in one of our basic communities in East Jakarta. The children were so excited to welcome her. She talked about PEACE, and they listened so well. Two children received a big box with crayons and others a bag with a note-book, pencils, and a healthy drink.
I am sure I will try to engage our children in the poor neighborhoods another time in the future, regardless whether their pictures are chosen or not. Who knows, some of them might work at the UN one day …
Chizuyo Inoue, rscj
Area of Indonesia