Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Little Hands with Fever

by ALLAN NAIRN

At an orphanage this morning, the ustad (Muslim cleric) in charge said they were taking care of 387 kids, and when I shook hands with twelve of them — mainly little girls — four of them clearly had fevers.

When I asked the ustad how the parents had died, he first answered “They were poor people.” Asked to elaborate, he listed sickness, hunger, disaster (the tsunami), accident, and work (ie. on-the-job injury/ overwork) as being among the reasons the kids were now there, instead of in a family.

(We had just met. He prudently omitted murder, private and official).

He went on to explain that some of the kids were on loan, since one of their parents or relatives was living, but so poor that they had chosen to bring a kid or two to the orphanage — securing them better nutrition, etc. — until they found some money, food, or pick-up work and felt equipped to reclaim their children.

When the kids are sick, the ustad said, the orphanage takes them to the PUSKESMAS, the public health clinics for Indonesia’s poor that stand in contradistinction to what poor people call “good doctors” (dokter bagus).

At a PUSKESMAS you’re lucky if a. it’s open b. they have real doctors, nurses or trained aides c. they dispense more than over-the-counter pain killers/ cough medicines and d. the bribe isn’t too heavy.

Even if you borrow/pawn/sell something and go to a dokter bagus if you’re poor you may still be in trouble, since favorite tactics include quite expensive, unnecessary X-rays and, for people with diabetes, walking into the doctor’s office with a swollen foot and walking out with no foot.

One good doctor who truly studied well and wants to help the poor once told of another class of kids-on-loan: kids rented out by their families as beggars, then run by preman (street thugs with army, police or big-shot backing) and, he said, sometimes sedated to be compliant and look still more pitiable.

(All in all, though, one still encounters fewer street beggars than one does in, say, New York City. For a reason why, having to do with extended families, see posting of January 14, 2008, “Economic Indicator”).

Jakarta and other cities have now made it a crime to beg, or to give.

Another shakedown excuse for Indonesia’s POLRI police.

The kids in the orphanage are actually lucky.

Lucky not in comparison to a decent world, where people don’t die of poverty (or, more precisely, die of a failure to move excess wealth from people who merely want it to people whose bodies need it), but lucky in comparison to life on the streets.

No mom or dad is pretty awful.

ALLAN NAIRN can be reached through his blog.

 

 

 

 

 

ALLAN NAIRN writes the blog News and Comment at www.newsc.blogspot.com.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Andrew Sullivan
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Richard W. Behan
Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]