Elisabet Ika Sri Pujiastuti is known as “Bu Ika,” or “teacher Ika.” But she doesn’t teach in an official school. She is one of the mentors at the Compassion centre in Solo, Indonesia.
“I don’t have formal education in teaching,” Ika says. “But I was moved by the need of children in my neighbourhood for better character education, so I stepped in.”
Ika has been serving with Compassion for twelve years as both a tutor and mentor. Over the years, she has learned how to build into children’s lives.
“Being a mentor requires me to act as a minister for the children and to have a good understanding of how to develop meaningful relationships with them,” she says.
Ika is responsible for two classes with a total of 41 children, but she knows each of them. Thanks to weekly visits to children’s homes, Ika has gotten to know each child in her classes and the struggles they are facing.
“The major challenge in ministering to children in my class is that many of their fathers left home without any warning for years, leaving their families at home with no financial support,” she says. “This family situation has put children at risk. Many of these children have low self-esteem or have become rude and naughty, compared to children from complete families.”
Ika arrives at the Compassion centre each day at 10 a.m., although her classes don’t begin until 2 p.m. Her home is far from the centre, so she has to walk to the bus, take a 25-minute ride, and then walk through the winding passageways to reach the centre. The long distance has never dimmed her passion to serve the children.
“I want to serve these precious children with Christ-like value and truth, things that I learned when I was a little child. These are things that have coloured my life that I want to impart to these children,” says Ika. “I always want to add colour to the children’s lives.”
For Ika, every child who comes to the Compassion centre is precious.
“Each one of them is their parents’ precious possession, which they lend to the Church to be shaped and nurtured,” she explains. “I will do my best to shape them in Christ’s likeness.”
Before the classes start in the afternoon, the mentors and tutors always prepare themselves with a prayer meeting. After prayer, they gather for lunch together before the children arrive. Then they prepare their classrooms. Ika has classes from 2 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. She likes to be in front of the classrooms early to greet parents and children and get to know them a little better.
Then there are several hours of fun, laughter and teaching with the children at the centre. Every day is a little different, but Bu Ika takes hold of each moment to build into the children.
“It does require perseverance to get to the promised land,” says Ika. “The same thing applies to ministering to children, to give them a better future for their lives.”
“I enjoy this ministry; I love the things I’m doing here. I love this ministry,” she says.
Bu Ika is just one of the thousands of tutors and mentors around the world who are dedicated to being a source of encouragement, exhortation and love for the children you sponsor around the world. Let’s thank God for them and ask for His guidance and blessing on their lives!
Story and photos by Tonny Tunya, Compassion Indonesia