Tue, 09 Nov 1999

Orphans do their bit for refugees

JAKARTA (JP): Jakarta orphans, grouped under the Indonesian Orphanages Agency (Bakorpin), sent 10 tons of food aid on Monday to an East Timorese refugee camp in Kupang, Nusa Tenggara.

"The orphans cut down their regular meals from three times to two times a day just to take part in this humanitarian aid," Bakorpin chairwoman S. Renyda Chaniago Ritonga said.

"The aid package, including salted fish, rice, instant noodles and second-hand clothes, will be transported by land and sent to the Nusa Tenggara Timur police chief.

"The police chief will then deliver it to the refugees."

Renyda, whose husband Marahuddin Ritonga was the Jakarta police chief from 1989 until 1992, said the refugees needed more help due to the upcoming rainy season. Some shelters are not yet built and they also have to deal with scarce supplies of fresh water.

"The orphans only contributed an insignificant amount of aid, but they have been willing to share, which is more important and will have a psychological effect on them.

"I told them that they have only lost their parents, but the refugees have lost everything they ever had," said Renyda.

"Several Muslim orphans observed optional fasting days on Mondays and Thursdays, in order to contribute more."

"We will also send similar aid packages to refugees in Aceh in the near future," said Mrs. Ritonga.

She added that the aid package for Aceh refugees would be in cash.

Bakorpin is an umbrella organization for orphanages nationwide and has branches in 17 provinces. It encompasses all religions and in Jakarta alone it coordinates some 300 orphanages. (05)