“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, peaceful, nurturing and enabling environment. But this is not the case for millions of children across the world that experience violence every day.” Counting Pennies Report, 2017
When Derwinte speaks she captures your attention. Her eloquence and passion are intense.
When she shares her heart for protecting and empowering children you can feel her deep concern for those she’s counselling and advocating for.
A mum of three living in rural Halmahera, Indonesia, Derwinte is a Child Protection Officer at the local Compassion project. You can find a Derwinte in each and every one of our Indonesian projects. In a country where child abuse is rife, Compassion Child Protection Officers advocate for children’s rights, provide vital education to children and their families and respond when an incident occurs. The fight Derwinte and her colleagues face is grave: 38% of children in Indonesia don’t know where to report violence and 26% have experienced violence in their homes.*
I had the privilege of spending an hour with this determined lady to hear more about her mission to protect the most vulnerable:
Can you tell me more about your job?
At the project I co-ordinate all the child protection issues. I tell the children about their rights and I educate parents about child protection and their rights also. I teach lessons on child protection where we have different materials for different age groups. I also accompany children who are facing challenging situations. Here it is a long journey to travel to Manado (capital city of North Sulawesi) to meet the police or a lawyer with a child and their family. If a child has been abused and needs specialist counselling, I also travel with them and their family to Siloam hospital.
In Compassion Indonesia we have child protection specialists doing this role in every project because of all the child violence in our country.
What is the most important thing you teach the children?
I teach six main topics including ‘Health rights”, ‘Not being pressured’, ‘How God views me as a person’ and ‘The parts of our bodies which can and can’t be touched’.
I think the most important thing is that kids know their rights and that children understand they cannot be violated by adults or by any other person. I help kids to be brave enough to tell others, for example their parents, if they have problems.
What are some of the dangers children in this community face?
There’s lots of alcohol abuse here and that can trigger violence in families. Fights between neighbours can endanger children.
Why do you think it’s so important to protect children?
Because God loves all children. And being a mum myself makes me even more passionate about doing my job. When children are put I danger I feel so compassionate and want to take action.
Can you give an example of how your job has made a difference?
There was a 15-year-old girl in this community who was living with her mother, father and grandfather. One day her grandmother saw her with a young boy who she thought was her boyfriend. The grandmother told the father that this girl was dating. Her father got mad and hit her whole body with a water pipe. She was red on her body and on her feet.
The girl had explained but the family did not listen. The girl’s friends came straight away and told me.
Immediately I met with the girl’s father and asked about the matter. I explained they couldn’t behave like this and I would go to the police. I told them that when the girl joined the Compassion programme, they signed a form, committing themselves to protecting their child.
Now the family is doing fine. I regularly meet with the girl and she says that her father is no longer physically abusive toward her. He also hasn’t been verbally abusive since.
Can you tell us more about the work you do alongside parents?
Once a month we conduct regular training for all the parents. We teach about child protection and offer parenting classes. Gradually these classes are bringing change to the community!
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*Source: UNICEF 2017