Local talent to help build Indonesian school

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – It’s not uncommon to see local talent gather at Higher Grounds Espresso Bar on a Friday night for their monthly Hot Dogma nights, but this Friday singers, musicians and other performers will gather to help raise funds to build a school in Indonesia.

Morinville’s Got Talent will put amateur performers together on one entertainment card Mar. 16 with the top talent determined not by how much applause they garner but by how many loonies are deposited in the hat after the performer’s act concludes.

The fundraising performance is in aid of the Westlock-based Idem Valitorem Benevolent Society, spearheaded by Lasmian Sinaga who grew up in Indonesia.

“About five months ago, two of my nieces were pulled out of the school they were attending that was about two kilometres from their village,” Sinaga said. “The reason that their mother withdrew them from the school was because of the widespread physical abuse that was happening to the students.”

Sinaga said one of her niece’s teachers beat her so hard the child was bedridden for two weeks due to a severe concussion.

“Our desire is to start a school in the village of Sijoring,” Sinaga said. “We feel that it is a terrible injustice for children to have to walk two kiometres to go to a school where they are routinely physically abused. We want to see the children of this village – and from the surrounding area – be able to attend a school where they can learn in a positive environment without having to fear for their personal safety.”

Sinaga said since announcing their plan to build a school in the village of Sijoring, 14 children have already signed up for kindergarten. In fact, the school will offer only kindergarten in its inaugural year, expanding year by year to include other grades. But the children’s rights activist understands that kindergarten class may have some older students.

“One of the children that has expressed interest in joining kindergarten is a 12 year old,” she said. “This child dropped out of school because of the severity of the physical abuse that she suffered. She wants an education, but until she heard about our plan to start a school in Sijoring, has been afraid to go to school.”

There will be challenges beyond accommodating a potential variety of ages in the school. The village is in a poor and remote part of Indonesia where there is no electricity, running water, and where most of the residents are sustenance farmers. For Sinaga, there is the understanding the children in that area are in desperate need of the type of future a good education will open up to them.

Local show to help far away youth

Morinville’s Got Talent is open to amateur performers aged nine and above; however, performers under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Performance spots are open to all forms of entertainment provided it is a family-friendly performance. Each act may run from three to five minutes in length. Prizes will be available for top winners.

The show will take place Mar. 16 at 7 p.m. at Higher Grounds Espresso Bar on 100 Avenue, located next door to Don’s Bistro. Anyone interested in performing can sign up at Higher Grounds.

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