Gertrudis Any Rasima, executive officer of Dolphins Foundation
Young Muslims in the coastal district of Cilincing, in North Jakarta are getting a good start in life thanks to a social foundation begun by a Maryknoll priest more than 40 years ago.
The Dolphins Foundation, established by Maryknoll Father Vinsensius Koli with help from Ursuline Sister Pauline Gani, offers free medical checkups and nutritious food programs for toddlers under three on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
More significantly, the foundation also provides children aged 4-6 with a free educational program in its recently renovated kindergarten, which re-opened recently thanks to the generosity of 24 donors.
About 200 toddlers benefit from each of the food programs, while 110 children attend the classes in the kindergarten, which first opened in 1982. Eight administrators of the foundation and three honorary teachers help run the programs.
“All the members of this foundation are Catholics, but we serve local people who are Muslims,” said executive officer Gertrudis Any Rasima.
“What we’ve done since we started in the 1970s has helped increase their standard of living and given the young a better start in life,” she added.
According to the 74-year-old laywoman, the services the foundation provides have helped the toddlers both physically and mentally.
“Before joining our programs, the very young didn’t look that healthy. As for the ones in the kindergarten, they are getting the same level of schooling as children living in more wealthy neighborhoods,” she added.
As well as looking after the interests of the children, the foundation also stresses to parents, who mainly come from a fishing background, on the importance of hygiene in leading a healthy life, Rasima said.
However, despite its success, the foundation says it is still a struggle to finding the funds for its projects.
“We hope what we have done so far will encourage people to lend a hand in helping others in the future,” Yulius Sutopo, one of the foundation’s coordinators, said.
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