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The sight of children walking to school barefoot is not unusual in some parts of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). The need for decent footwear for children in this area is still not properly met. This reality has touched Wanda Ponika, a jewelry entrepreneur from Jakarta. Early last year, after successfully raising funds for the construction of two classrooms for SDK Roe in Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Flores, Wanda, and her family visited to inaugurate the new building. On that occasion, she witnessed firsthand the condition of education and life of children in the regency, including the absence of proper footwear among the children. 

Elementary School students playing barefoot at one of the schools we rebuilt in NTT

Upon returning to Jakarta, Wanda Ponika took the initiative to raise funds to provide shoes for the students of SDK Roe through the sale of her son’s newly launched book: Bully Aja I don’t Care. Although the fundraising was going well, she was still keen to raise more in order to provide more shoes for the children in Flores. Thus, she challenged her followers on social media to contribute and encouraged some of her friends who have an influence on social media to do the same.  

Unbelievably, the fundraising initiative went viral. From early April to mid-June 2019, thanks to donations from social media users, 475,895,000 Indonesian Rupiah was successfully raised. An extraordinary amount and way far beyond Wanda’s expectations as a fundraiser. Thanks to the donors and the support from Gabino, a local brand that has given special price for each pair of shoes, until the end of last year, 3,316 pairs of shoes were successfully produced and distributed to three islands in NTT: Flores, Sumba and West Timor. 

Students of SD Masehi Katura, Sumba Barat Daya, while receiving shoe donation

Thus, 3,316 students from 38 schools spread across Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Kabupaten Sumba Barat Daya, Kabupaten Sumba Barat, Kota Kupang, Kabupaten Kupang and Kabupaten Timor Tengah Selatan now have a pair of shoes with good quality to protect their feet and provide comfort for them going to the school and coming back home.

The success of this fundraising initiative proves that many people care about the conditions and needs of underprivileged children across Indonesia. In addition, it was also a strong reminder of how social media can encourage many people to become part of the change. We believe that our goal to break the cycle of poverty in NTT by providing better access to quality education for children in the region can be achieved together.

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