My name is Mellisa Rollys Purba. You can call me Melli. This is my story, where I have never once regretted being a volunteer.
I’m 23-years-old, pursuing a Master’s degree in Law at Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH). The COVID-19 pandemic has caused pain and uncertainty for thousands of people across Indonesia. They wait for certainty and hope, as the year swiftly passes. I am lucky to have things I can be grateful for this year: returning to Batam, reuniting with my family, and continuing my education online. Who would have thought I could have become an intern and volunteer at Rumah Faye as well?
It all started with my fledgling interest in protecting women and children. I’ve always experienced discrimination in my day-to-day life, which encouraged me to find ways to fight that discrimination.
In early 2020, I was a fresh graduate from Universitas Katolik Parahyangan’s Faculty of Law. I had decided to return to my hometown, Batam, where I made the decision to volunteer. During this time, I remembered an article briefly mentioning Rumah Faye. When I found out that Rumah Faye was present in Batam, I realized I could help. At first, I simply signed up to be a volunteer. However, when the pandemic came, activities with children outside the safe house became hard to conduct. As a result, in September 2020, I registered again. This time, for the internship position. This is where my journey to directly contributing to the protection of women and children began.
In accordance with Rumah Faye’s overarching programs (prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation), volunteers can work in numerous areas. I once participated, for example, in case assistance for a victim who had to go through the process of reporting their case to the police. With my educational background, this hands-on experience was extremely useful. However, my favourite activity was teaching and assisting the recovery program for victims in the sage house. Usually, I teach my favourite subjects from school using a storytelling method, so that it is easier for the younger children to understand.
Their enthusiasm is amazing, especially for music lessons. At first, I was unsure if they would be interested to learn about music. However, they fell in love with the guitar when I began to teach them. Now, it’s hard to pry them away from the guitar!
I also enjoy drawing with them, while listening to music. This is part of the healing process. Through drawing, I encourage them to share their dreams about the future. I am a firm believer that it is big dreams which can push us to keep living. I share this with them, along with my own dreams. These things can give us the strength to keep on fighting in order to achieve our dreams.
I could never regret volunteering at Rumah Faye. In fact, I am eternally grateful to Rumah Faye to have the opportunity and to myself for having the courage to take real action in protecting women and children. It’s not as easy as what I have read, but it is so exciting. Meeting and having dialogues with the children at the safe house has made me more aware of my role in preventing violence against children. When I see them playing or am accompanying them to do their homework, I am reminded how important it is for all of us to take an immediate role in protecting children’s rights.
Volunteering has taught me what it means to be human. Humans don’t just have will, but feeling. What I mean is that being human means being sensitive and empathetic. It means having the desire and compassion to help others. On this International Volunteer Day, I want to invite all of you to start doing something. Don’t stay silent, or speak empty words. Now is the time. If not us, who?
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY !!!
Author: Mellisa Rolys Purba
Editor: Mellysa Anastasya
TRanslator: Faye Simanjuntak