Our Director wishes you a Happy New Year

Posted Under

Dear all, We wrapped up 2018 with a bang. Our first-ever VOICE International Conference was a success. We hosted over 280 participants from 23 different countries. For three full days, they exchanged findings and learning from the latest research, policy work, and on-the-ground programs that focused on the areas of climate change and migration, technology, and harmful social norms that affect the lives of children, families, and societies all around the globe. Logistically, VOICE was our first experience in organizing an international conference on that scale. Conceptually, VOICE was the first international event held in Indonesia that put child protection and wellbeing at the core and that convened not just global south and global north researchers but also policymakers and program implementers. Strategically, VOICE put us on the map. PUSKAPA has been a member of the international network since its establishment through our partnership with the Care and Protection of Children or CPC Learning Network at Columbia University. Today, our collaborations have expanded to other networks at the national, regional, and global level. Still, VOICE gave us such an uplifting acknowledgment about where PUSKAPA is in the bigger scheme of things and how local and global actors see us. It also gave us an opportunity to showcase that to UI, to our partners, and most importantly, to all PUSKAPA staff members. Reading about who we are (and where we think we are) is not the same as witnessing it first-hand. Through VOICE, everyone in PUSKAPA, from our front office assistant to our most senior advisor, got to experience how much people respect our work. Tangibly, VOICE affirmed that to seek the highest standard in everything we do always pays off. I think that was the most rewarding part. It is essential that we all take pride in our culture of continuous learning, self-improvement, and merit building. Also, it is as important that from time to time we see results, no matter how rudimentary, considering how those never come quickly enough in doing what we do. Of course, 2018 was not only about setting up VOICE. That, in and of itself, is a declaration of the hard work everyone put in and the multiple things we accomplished well together this year. Our work in strengthening civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems in 16 districts has started to show some real changes. Not only that the program assisted tens of thousands of individuals to obtain their legal identity documents, but some local government partners were also starting to adopt our promoted village-based registration system model. In 2019, our work will expand to an additional ten districts, bringing our reach to 26 districts in total. At the national level, we provided primary technical assistance to the review of the government’s mid-term development plan (RPJMN) 2015-2019 and the initial formulation of the next 2020-2024 plan for child protection and CRVS sectors and provided child wellbeing-focused inputs to the justice as well as poverty reduction and social welfare sectors. We helped design and test the instruments for the violence against children national survey and continue with our longitudinal study initiative SLAK focusing on the testing of the experimental modules for children and mothers. On the latter, we formalized our collaboration with INOVASI and RISE; two established research groups in the area of quality of education. In addition to research and policy inputs, we also took an active part in advocating against some draconian ruling proposed in the penal code revision. We also initiated the establishment of a civil society coalition and drafted an alternative to the population administration law amendment. All of these achievements were made possible by our partnership with, among others, the local and national government, KOMPAK, and UNICEF as well as with our local NGO partners. I am proud to see how consistent we were in promoting evidence to guide our actions and in evaluating our actions to improve our research and the way we do things. As importantly, we discovered how to manage compromises together. This year, we learned when and how to choose our battles, to understand the trade-offs in our decisions, and to co-exist while remain to be the voice of clarity in the spaces of agreement and disagreement with others. Those spaces were manifestations of both shifts due to slow changes in the society and of shocks due to sudden events in our life. I’m afraid we will still deal with a lot of shifts and shocks in 2019 from the growing norms and values that underlie violence, anti-democracy, and anti-science attitudes to human-made disasters and conflicts. Next year will not be easy. I believe we can be more useful in addressing the challenges of the future by continuing to encourage thinking that leads to action. Thinking does not lead to inaction. They lead to more effective and accountable actions in defying uncertainties. Let's be the living proof of that. With this note, I wish everyone the strengths and integrity to recognize our misunderstandings, to interrogate our assumptions, and to challenge our ignorance in the years to come. I wish us the forte to better manage our stress, frustrations, and premature satisfaction in our pursuit of excellence. For the four new team members we welcomed this year, I cannot wait to move mountains together with you. Happy new year everyone!