ROTARACTORS: Rockingham/Kwinana Rotaract president Kim Dawes (left) and international service director Alex Hill.
THE frosty relationship between the Australia and Indonesian governments made it difficult, at first, for keen Rockingham/Kwinana Rotaract members to persuade their potential Indonesian partners in good works that they had no ulterior motives.
With determined diplomacy, they got their selected sister club, Rotaract Jakarta Metropolitan, onside.  
That local cooperation was essential to raise money for and renovate the Madrasah Ibtidaiyah PUI (Persatuan Umat Islam) Cibanteng School in Bogor.
Rockingham/Kwinana Rotaract international service director Alex Hill told last Wednesday’s Palm Beach Rotary Club meeting that the club’sHope for Kids project “had people on the ground in the club’s first couple of years …I have not heard of that happening before in Australia.”
But the local Rotaract club is a bunch of young people in a hurry. The club was formed in June 2012 and officially chartered on July 1, 2013.
Very early in its life, it supported  the Mandurah and Rockingham Relays for Life, the Rockingham Million Paws Walk, Weston’s Warriors Football Group and the Town of Kwinana Anzac Day ceremony.
Then in April last year it looked at a suitable joint project it could carry out in neighbouring Indonesia and settled on the Bogor school.
This school (or madrasah) has received no government funding since 1979, apart from $30 every three months to pay the teacher. Its 200 students were studying in damaged buildings, with collapsing dirty and mouldy ceilings and collapsing walls, a difficult learning environment.
The school runs two sort three sessions each day to accommodate its children in two or three rooms.
“We are in a very privileged situation,” Alex said.  “We have free or very cheap education the kids over there would kill for.”
It is astonishing how far a comparatively small sum of money will stretch when doing  good works is a country.  They bought everything needed form a local shop and, despite the language barrier, formed a friendship with the proprietor.
On their first day, they were accompanied to the area by local  Rotaractors who wanted to help. They eventually found the building (hidden behind roadside shops, s seven-hour drive south of Jakarta) and were stunned by a huge welcome and concert from all parents, teachers and kids involved with the school.
In four-five days they resurfaced and painted walls, varnished desks, replaced toilets and installed a water tower so the youngsters can wash their hands.
On there first day, there were so many helpers”we were running out of tools”, Alex said. That was not a problem later.  Indonesians get few holidays and the local Retractors had to return to work the following day.
Alex said this visit did the groundwork but more had to be done. He really wanted to put fencing alongside a narrow path, leading to the toilets, between the school building and a vegetation-covered cliff dropping down to a river.
The school’s bamboo roof had only two or three years life remaining.  He would like to replace it with a metal roof, at a cost of about $5000.
Hal Baxter remarked the Rockingham/Kwinana Rotaractors had done something that was needed all over Indonesia.  “I have seen school where kids are sitting on planks of wood with planks for desks,” he remarked.