During my time in Jakarta in September, I was fortunate to go and volunteer my Imaginary Leaps theatre play sessions with Kampung Kids. Kampung kids runs programmes in Pejaten (South Jakarta), Bekasi and Bogor in West java to educate families on health and hygiene, and provides education a well as nutrition for needy children. Sponsoring over 1,112 students, they provide a healthy daily meal relying on many volunteers who contribute not only with money donations, but also with time spent teaching , supporting and nurturing pre school and junior Kampung kids.
As soon as I arrived, I was warmly welcomed in a haven of calm, away from the busy city,by the staff , families and children – all eager to see what I had brought to play with. We had a small IT room to play in, so we pushed back the chairs and computers, and i got to know the 4-5 year old children, breaking the ice and making them feel comfortable with me, not by talking,I dont speak indonesian yet! but by callingon old mime and street theatre skills, to make them laugh. Then, we find Bobby, asleep and he makes a shy entrance, my most important puppet tool of communication. There were screams of joy and delight, gradually Bobby met each child and they communicated back to the puppet in their individual own way.
Bobby is a puppet where characteristic gestures and features are only gently suggested so the children’s own imaginations can imprint what they want to see. The puppet helps reinforce the child’s own identity, sharing joy and emotions in the moment. Often children respond in the primal 3 ways – to nurture, to love, or to fight. I model with the puppet treating it with respect, if a child punches or hits the puppet, I give the puppet a cuddle and then the child , Ive found through use of no oral language, after repeating these actions once or twice, the child will model back to the puppet. Puppets and people alike need positive, tender care. Bobby puppet changes its expression in the eyes of the child, depending on the child’s emotional needs, and can be any gender or culture. Together we all sing and play ‘Ring a Roses’, somehow the children pick this up very quickly and love the actions.
Bobby models playing with coloured sheets of Tissue paper – the tissue transforms to a butterfly, fish, bird, different animals – the children shout out the names in Indonesian. Then to original music from DNA’s early years shows, we dance and play with the movement of tissue in the air, blowing, juggling, scrunching, making bows in the hair or superhero capes. After this play has been exhausted, they scrunch and form the tissue into whatever they see, in this play they seem to want fish and once formed, these swim in our imaginary sea. The nursery rhyme is repeated, ‘With fishes in the ocean, fishes in the sea’ illustrated with the puppet fish. A completely different game then began, using the swivel wheeled chairs as cars and getting stuck in traffic jams, totally reenacting the traffic situation in Jakarta!
Bobby said goodbye aftera great time playing and donated crayons, shdow puppet materials and as much craft activity supplies as I could carry over in my luggage!
Thank you to Julia and the staff & families at Kampung Kids –
”Thank you so much for your time in running the puppet play with our children yesterday, I am sure they enjoyed it. We hope all the best with your career as I think it is great idea to play with.”
To make a donation to kampung kids please contact firstname.lastname@example.org