When Fanta, a four-year-old girl living with her family under the toll road in West Jakarta was molested, Jakarta Police wanted to help find the perpetrator and bring him to justice; they simply couldn’t.
This sounds crazy, but Fanta simply doesn’t exist, at least not on paper and definitely not in the eyes of the law. She doesn’t have a birth certificate or any real form of proper identification. This means when volunteers from Sahabat Anak, a local organization established to help protect street children, took her to the police station to file charges, the investigation came to a staggering halt when authorities found out Fanta technically didn’t exist.
“Her parents don’t have the means to go through all the necessary steps to get her a birth certificate,” explained Frisca Hutagalung. “Her family used to live in the village, but her dad brought everyone to Jakarta and he tried to find work. Plus, there used to be a fine you had to pay to obtain a birth certificate if the child was more than 60 days old. But the old sanction has been lifted. Not everyone knows. We need to spread the word.”
To this day she still doesn’t have a birth certificate. She still doesn’t exist.
“You need five pieces of identification to begin the process of obtaining a birth certificate,” explains Frisca, who sits on the board of Sahabat Anak. “A lot of the parents of these kids don’t have marriage certificates or an ID card (KTP) so that makes it impossible to get a birth certificate.”
These kids are being punished—denied a basic human right—for something they have no control over.
The numbers are staggering. One study found that as many as 60 percent of Indonesian children under the age of five don’t have a birth certificate, perhaps as many as two million kids. Without birth certificates, these children have a difficult time getting medical treatment, enrolling in school, not to mention eventually getting a decent job. Without a birth certificate children are ineligible for free public school, unable to obtain a KTP or even apply for a job.
If the figures are accurate, this basic human right has been denied to some 50 million Indonesian across the country. That means the real population sits somewhere near 298 million. To put things in perspective, there are 50 million people living in South Korea, the entire population of Spain lingers around 46 million.
“It’s actually very complicated. We have to go to this office, and then this office to move the process along,” explains Frisca. “There needs to be a one-stop shop for parents to obtain birth certificates for their children. And the government needs to equip the public with the policy. We need to learn the new regulations. No one knows the policy. We’d like to have a dialogue with the government so we can learn the policy and spread the word.”
More broadly, lack of a birth certificate amounts to a life sentence of being stuck in the poverty cycle. Parents who do not have birth certificates are three times more likely to have children who do not have birth certificates, demonstrating that a lack of legal identity is passed along from generation to generation. A mix of circumstances make this impossible for most of these families to provide these documents – lack of resources and awareness to obtain the documents in the first place and misplaced documents because of no access to secure place to store the documents.
That’s when Scott Hanna and Mustika Harpsono decided to rally their friends and come up with a brilliant way to raise awareness on the subject of birth certificates. Hanna owns and operates CrossFit Bengkel, home to some of the most driven and focused gym rats in Jakarta. Scott called on fitness enthusiasts throughout Jakarta to get sweaty for a good cause come June 14.
Meanwhile, Mustika, a recent university graduate and avid volunteer convinced Hanna and the CrossFit team to hold a side-event on the same day for people who weren’t exactly inclined to join a workout. Mustika was smart enough to leap to the other side of the spectrum when it came to her campaign, #BakeADifference, held in the Bengkel basement on the same day as the tribute workout.
“Why #BakeADifference? Why birthday treats?” asks Mustika, who has recruited more than 20 birthday cake and cup enthusiasts. “I want people to think about the 50 million kids who, without birth certificates, are denied of their identity, their basic human rights. Many of us forget how ‘lucky’ we are not to be born in to poverty. What did these kids do to deserve such inequality? They were just born.”
With Local Food Writer, chef and author of “Papaya Flower,” Petty Elliot leading the way, renowned establishments like Turkuaz, Astrid Suryatenggara, Passionee Bread & Pastry, 5sis Bakes and Twelve Cupcakes have stepped up and offered to donate baked goods to be sold at Bengkel on the day of the workout.
Everything culminates on Saturday, June 14th to raise funds and awareness to help these children obtain birth certificates. There will be two activities that day to raise funds: a charity fundraiser workout and a charity bake sale. Whether you are looking for the best cupcake in town or to get rid of your muffin tops, the day has something for everyone and all for a good cause.
“We know we won’t solve this problem in one day,” said Scott Hanna, one of the organizers of the event. “But we want to create momentum to spread awareness and generate resources to support the process to move toward a solution. These kids deserve a chance to go to school and work for a better life.”
As Frisca explains, the key now is to convince the public into giving money to street kids and to convince the parents to go to their local Dinas Kependudukan dan Catatan Sipil (office of population and civil registration) and get birth certificates for their children. Funds raised at the June 14 events will be used to educate parents and provide birth certificates for children in emergency situations.
The event starts at 2pm on Saturday, June 14th at Bengkel Crossfit, The Fairgrounds Building, SCBD Lot 14, Jendral Sudirman Kav 52-53, Jakarta, Indonesia 12190. Sponsors and partners are still being sought, please email: [email protected] if you are interested to get involved.
To learn more, help spread the word and keep updated, visit these links:
“Dylan” Tribute Workout: Angkat to Help Anaks in Indonesia