Yaysan Lentera Surakarta
Today we visited YLS, an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS. I had read about them in the Jakarta Post and felt very impressed we should visit them the next time we were in Solo. We are so glad we did!
YLS was started in 2012 with one HIV baby; there are now 18 in the home – 2 babies, 12 school-age (4-12) and 4 older ‘nannies’ that are also infected but also take care of the children. There is no room for any others – they told us they were aware of at least 70 kids in Central Java that have HIV. The two men who head up the Yaysan have regular jobs and they spend their own money to support the orphanage, and they collect whatever donations they can. Like they told us, ‘hopefully, God will provide’.
The sad thing is that culturally, Indonesians are very frightened of HIV/AIDS and believe they are in danger of contracting HIV if they are around anyone with the disease. Clearly, there is a lot of education needed. Consequently, the orphanage has had to move several times since they were established because as soon as the neighborhood finds out about the kids’ condition, they ban together and make them move. They have to move again by the end of the year – but in this case, it’s ok, because their current location is a disaster and they want to get out. But, where do they go? They have been looking, but whenever they explain the situation, the potential landlord turns them down and refuses to rent to them. So, they keep looking….
We really aren’t in a position to find them a new place and LDSC doesn’t pay rent. When they find their new place they will need beds, desks, table and chairs, etc. But in the meantime, we asked them what they needed and offhand they said food (especially baby food), diapers, milk and a refrigerator. We asked them to talk about it and send us an email of a priority list of what they needed and we would see what we could do. We’ll see what happens….