Alam Aksara

Providing Educational Opportunities for Indonesian Students

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Shoes for Flores (English)

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Several days ago two friends and I visited Niobewa Catholic Elementary School in the village of Lenandareta, Sikka District, Nusa Tenggara Timur Province. The village is located a 43 km drive from Maumere, the district capital.

Lenandareta consists of two hamlets with a total population of 400 households or 1,756 people. Apart from the Catholic elementary school, there is also a public elementary school. The children of the village choose which school to attend depending on which is nearest to their homes.

Niobewa is located in a hilly area that is dry year round but is particularly arid as it is now during the dry season. To reach the school, teachers and students must walk for three kilometers from the Ende-Maumere highway along an extremely hot, dry and dusty dirt road.

The local residents farm for a living and are entirely dependent on rainwater to irrigate their crops. Rice can be harvested once a year. The rest of the time, they plant whatever will grow in the dry fields. Many of the farmers average an income of a mere 5,000 rupiah per day (¥44, US$.41, €0.32). To make ends meet, the entire family works in the fields. This includes the children, who join their parents after coming home from school. On completing their educations, many residents find work in Malaysia and Kalimantan in order to provide for the needs of their families and to keep their younger siblings in school.

Niobewa Elementary School was established by the Sanpukat Foundation in 1959, but the foundation is not as well financed as it used to be, and the school is now dependent on funds from the government. But the budget allocation it receives is very small and can only cover salaries for the teachers averaging a mere 250,000 rupiah per month (¥2,200, US$20, €16). The school has 12 teachers, who teach 101 students from first to sixth grade.

Because of the low income levels in the village, most students are unable to buy textbooks or pens, let alone shoes, book bags, uniforms (school, scouting and physical education), etc. Many students must walk to school barefoot. The dirt road they take is hot, dusty and gravelly and winds through steep hills overlooking sharp drop-offs, making riding a motorcycle or even driving a car quite dangerous. It’s heartbreaking to see this situation especially when one thinks of the situation in the cities, where most children have several pairs of shoes apiece.


Niobewa Elementary is just one of many such schools in the interior of Flores, from Labuan Bajo at the west end of the island to Larantuka in the east. If this project is successful and more funds are donated than are needed in this village, they will be channeled to other schools in need.

What they need:
– Shoes, either new or somewhat used, for children in the first to sixth grade of elementary school.
– Notebooks, pens and pencils. At the moment, many students can purchase only one thin notebook for use in all their classes.
– Compasses and rulers.
– Book bags.
– Children’s books, including both fiction and general knowledge.

What we can do:
a) Send the above materials directly to the school at the following address:

Kepala Sekolah Bapak Eduardus Seran
SDK Niobewa
Desa Lenandareta, Kec. Paga
Kabupaten Sikka,
Nusa Tenggara Timur 86153


b) Make a donation for the purchase of these items in the nearby city of Maumere. This will save the cost of shipping and aid the local economy. Our local coordinator, a writer and photographer named Valentino Luis, will arrange for the children to be taken to Maumere, where they will be able to shop in the local bookstore and market. This will be an unforgettable experience for them, since most of them have never left their village.

Donations can be sent to the bank account of Alam Aksara. For transfer details, please contact us at info(at)

On behalf of the children of Sikka, thank you very much for your support and assistance.

Dede Prabowo

3 October 2014