Eliminating Glue Sniffing Through Education

Sumaryanto Bronto, Media Indonesia

It has been two years since Acunk lived and explored the Ciroyom market in Bandung. This 13 year old would at times cover his nose and mouth with his dirty shirt collar as he sniffed glue, his eyes glassy and his mind wanders. Such habit, locally termed ‘ngelem’ is an effect cum escape for the street children.

Acunk and dozens of his friends at Ciroyom are mostly from poor families, either orphaned or of divorced parents. Such conditions led them to choose the live on the street by busking, being a porter, umbrella jockey or beggars. They sleep at pull carts or thinly walled 2m x 2m tiny room crammed with at least 20 boys.

They earn about IDR 5,000/day of which IDR 3,000 will be allocated to buy food and the rest to get glue.

A helping hand came in the form of the 10 volunteers who founded Sahaja (Friends of Street Children), a community that teaches skills and education. There are currently 40 children who are learning how to read, write, count and dance while occasionally sniffing glue.

Once they are free of glue sniffing and wish to alter their path and refrain from returning to their bad habit, they are relocated to the street children school with a learning system in place. One such school is Master Anak Jalanan in Depok.