FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Little Hands with Fever

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.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
January 29, 2020
Jefferson Morley
Weakest Link: Impeachment and National Security
Peter Lackowski
Venezuela, January 2020: Hardship and Resistance
Kenneth Surin
BoJo Johnson’s Brexit Fantasies
Ron Jacobs
The Swamp That Trump Built
Scott Corey
A Different Impeachment
Peter Cohen
How to Survive this Election
Manuel García, Jr.
Mutually Assured Madness: Immunity to the 25th Amendment
John Kendall Hawkins
Soviet Hippies: The Grass is Greener on the Other Side
Chandra Muzaffar
The International Court of Justice and the Rohingyas
John Grant
Iran is Not Responsible for US Deaths in Iraq
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The World Demands Us Out of the Middle East
Shawn Fremstad
Marital-Status Discrimination Reduces Fertility in China
Lawrence Wittner
Could the Climate Crisis be “The Good News of Damnation”?
Tom Engelhardt
The Fate of the Earth (See Page Five)
Myles Hoenig
Why the Green Party isn’t the Problem
January 28, 2020
Patrick Cockburn
China’s Coronavirus Outbreak Reminds Me of the Irish Polio Epidemic I Survived
P. Sainath
Making Rebellion Attractive: Why the Establishment Still Hates John Reed
Geoff Dutton
Where Was Rudy Giuliani When Democrats Needed Him?
Sam Pizzigati
The Evolution of “Davos Man” into . . . Trump Fan!
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Truth a Major Casualty of Impeachment Hearings
Michael Welton
Autobiographical Roots of Habermas’ Thought
Greta Anderson
Remove the Livestock, Not the Wolves
Nick Pemberton
Sorry Chomsky and Friends, The Green Party isn’t the Problem
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s Feeble Phase 1 China-US Trade Deal
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Natural Gas Pipeline Corridor Threatens Imperiled Species and Inventoried Roadless Areas
Daniel Falcone
Make America Radical Again: A Conversation with Harvey J. Kaye
Binoy Kampmark
Split Hearings: the Assange Extradition Case Drags On
Eric Toussaint
Greece: a Chronology From January 25, 2015 to 2019
Nino Pagliccia
An Open Letter to Justin Trudeau on Venezuela
Robert Hunziker
Reflections of a Scientific Humanist
Jeffrey St. Clair
Who Cares If It Leaks? An Afternoon at Hollyhock House
January 27, 2020
Peter Harrison
Adani and the Purpose of Education
Dean Baker
Can Manufacturing Workers Take Many More of Trump’s Trade “Victories”?
Robert Fisk
Trump in Davos: US isolationism is Reaching Its Final Narcissistic Chapter
Ariel Dorfman
The Challenge for Chile and the World
Victor Grossman
The Misuses of Antisemitism in the UK and the USA
Thomas Knapp
Bernie Sanders, Joe Rogan, Human Rights Campaign, and Truth in Advertising
Fred Gardner
NewsGuard Can Save You From Putin!
Lawrence Wittner
A Historian Reflects on the Return of Fascism
Rose Miriam Elizalde
Cuba: a Matter of Principle
Bob Topper
The Better Moral Creed
George Wuerthner
Giving Cover to the Abuses of Big Ag
Christopher Packham
This is Really Happening
Negin Owliaei
Americans Need to Hear More From Iranians, Here’s Where to Start
Ted Rall
Corporate Crap That Doesn’t Kill Bernie
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail