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Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

Bali's Orphans Face A Life of Bureaucratic Uncertainty Due to Rules on the Issuance of Official Birth Certificates.

(12/8/2007) A recent investigation carried out by the weekly Tokoh has underlined the severe plight of Bali's orphans, made worse by the widespread inability to obtain a formal birth certificate. According to the report, children raised by foster caregivers are rendered outcasts due to their inability to present the official birth document needed to attend school, obtain an identity card or a passport.

Drs. H. Muhsan Effendi, the Secretary of the Orphan Foundation of Bali, told Tokoh that the inability to obtain formal birth certificates is a problem affecting every orphanage in Bali. Effendi, who is also the operator of the Tunas Bangsa Orphanage in the Monang-Maning area of Denpasar, reports that only 30% of the 52 children under his care hold valid birth certificates. Based on discussions held among the directors of the 64 orphanages found in Bali, at least 70% of all orphans in Bali do not possess a birth certificate.

Many of these children originate from village settings in Bali with little or no record in existence regarding their parentage. Unable to present the names of two parents and their marriage certificate needed to obtain a birth certificate, these children and their futures remain in legal limbo.

Troubles start early for children without an akta Kelahiran or birth certificate. Enrolment in local primary schools is often impossible without an akta, a scenario of denial that will be repeated time and again throughout their lives as they fail to obtain an official identity card, a passport or employment in formal sectors of the economy.

The resourceful Mr. Effendi is sometimes able to secure a temporary solution to the schooling quandary through the assistance of understanding school principals prepared to accept children presenting a simple birth statement - a less formal document issued by the officials of the child's home village.

A local lawyer and activist on behalf of children's rights, Luh Putu Anggreni, is calling on the Government to urgently address the problem of undocumented children.