In July 2023, we shared an update on our social media unveiling an exciting development for Classroom of Hope: our collaboration with a new local NGO implementing partner in Indonesia: Happy Hearts Indonesia. Today, we wanted to take a few minutes to dive deeper into this new partnership and tell you why we’re so excited about it!
Why do we Partner with Local NGOs?
Ever since we started Classroom of Hope in 2012, we’ve believed strongly in the importance of community-led decision making for sustainable development. We have a profound respect for the knowledge, insights, and lived experiences of the communities we aim to serve.
As an Australian nonprofit fundraising for sustainable education and building in Southeast Asia and beyond, we’ve always been very conscious of not “bringing in” external priorities, and instead working actively to ensure our initiatives are locally-centered, empowering, sustainable, and genuinely rooted in the needs and desires of the community.
That’s why we prioritize working with local NGO partners for every project! These partners are “on the ground” and plugged into the local communities, so by working closely with them, Classroom of Hope is able to tailor our projects to make sure they have the best and most sustainable impact on each community.
It’s truly a collaborative approach: our local NGO partners work with communities to establish priorities and a hierarchy of needs, Classroom of Hope and our donors work together to find funding to address those needs, and then we work alongside our local NGO partners to use that funding to implement solutions that are long-lasting and locally supported.
Introducing our Newest Local NGO Partner: Happy Hearts Indonesia!
Every once in a while, serendipity finds us – and that’s how we feel about our connection with Happy Hearts Indonesia (HHI)!
Just like Classroom of Hope, Happy Hearts Indonesia was built upon a mission to provide access to proper education for those in underserved areas. Since their inception in 2013, they’ve focused on rebuilding schools affected by natural disasters, particularly in areas like East Nusa Tenggara.
Sound familiar? We thought so, too!
Despite our shared missions and close proximity, Classroom of Hope and Happy Hearts Indonesia didn’t really cross paths until this year, when HHI became the second nonprofit organisation to begin using Block Solutions’ recycled plastic block technology for building schools in Indonesia!
Classroom of Hope’s partnership with Block Solutions has been very close to our hearts since we built the first Block School in Indonesia using block technology in June 2021, and even more so since we helped to bring this innovation to Indonesia with the recent opening of the Block Solutions Lombok factory!
So, you can imagine how excited we were when, one day showing up to SDN 1 Rempek, one of our Block Schools in Lombok, for a regular site visit, we noticed another classroom that was clearly built using Block Solutions technology right across the road! When we investigated, we learned that this was a preschool built by Happy Hearts Indonesia to serve the students in the community that weren’t yet of primary school age, and that it was among the first schools they constructed using Block Solutions’ blocks.
This serendipitous discovery formed the initial link, and after further conversations between Classroom of Hope and Happy Hearts Indonesia, we discovered our shared visions of sustainable development, equal access to quality education, and innovative and eco-friendly solutions in disaster-stricken areas of Indonesia!
With so much in common, it became an easy decision for Classroom of Hope to bring Happy Hearts Indonesia in as a new local implementing NGO partner.
The Strength of Unity and Collaboration
We believe that when two organizations with shared goals operate in the same area, they can achieve more by working together than separately. That’s the driving force behind our new collaboration. By combining the resources and aligning the visions of Classroom of Hope and Happy Hearts Indonesia, we truly believe we can make our efforts significantly more streamlined and effective. After all, isn’t it better to see two groups collaborating for a greater impact rather than duplicating efforts?
A couple of the benefits we’re excited to share:
Monitoring and Impact Assessment
Classroom of Hope has always put a great deal of importance on transparency and impact reporting; making sure that we (and all of our local implementing partners) are regularly tracking and evaluating our projects so that we can measure and communicate our impact accurately. We know that building schools is just the beginning. Ensuring that these institutions continue to thrive and serve their communities effectively and sustainably is equally crucial.
Fortunately, Happy Hearts Indonesia shares this priority and has offered to help with ongoing monitoring and assessment of the enduring impact of all Block Schools built by Classroom of Hope. With their on-the-ground site visits, we can guarantee that our projects remain effective and continue to serve communities for years to come.
Increased Building Capacity
Another exciting aspect of this collaboration is the combined capacity to build! Since we started working with Block Solutions and their sustainable building technology in 2021, Classroom of Hope has been building local capacity in Lombok and now has four local construction teams with the expertise of building classrooms and homes with Block technology! By adding Happy Hearts Indonesia’s trained building team to that number, the scope of what we can achieve expands exponentially.
That means that – if funding aligns – we now have the capacity to construct up to five schools simultaneously, making our shared mission of creating hundreds of safe, secure, and environmentally sustainable learning environments a rapidly approaching reality.
Opportunity to Expand into Other Areas of Indonesia
For Classroom of Hope, our focus has been and will continue to be on Lombok, Indonesia for the foreseeable future. We made a commitment to rebuild 200 schools and 4,000 homes in the aftermath of the 2018 earthquakes, and we stand firm with that.
However, we’ve had many requests over the past couple of years to expand our Block Programs beyond the Nusa Tenggara Barat region, and this alliance with Happy Hearts Indonesia will open doors to other areas in Indonesia! Their experience in places like Sumba and Java, among other remote areas, means that together we can dream bigger and look beyond Lombok, furthering our commitment to providing quality education across Indonesia.
A New Chapter Begins
We think that this is the perfect time to announce that our next Block School to be built, SDN 5 Gondang, will be our first school built in collaboration with Happy Hearts Indonesia!
SDN 5 Gondang is a primary school serving 223 students in the Gangga District of North Lombok. In the 2018 earthquakes that devastated Lombok, the school’s eight classrooms, teacher’s room, library, and toilets were all destroyed.
The local government rebuilt four classrooms and a computer lab, as well as a multi-purpose room. However, to accommodate all of the students at the school, they also had to construct three additional emergency classrooms with spandex walls, tin roofs, plywood ceilings, and cement floors. These emergency classrooms were never meant to be permanent, and over time, the roofs have started to collapse and the walls are deteriorating, leading to classrooms that are both unsafe and not at all conducive to learning.
With eight student groups vying for space in just four permanent classrooms and three that are falling apart, Classroom of Hope and Happy Hearts Indonesia have decided to work together to build four new strong, safe, and sustainable Block classrooms, as well as a new sanitary facility with four toilets and two sinks!
This is the start of an exciting new phase with Happy Hearts Indonesia, and we can’t wait to see where it goes!
In short, this collaboration is a testament to our shared belief in the age-old adage: “Together, we achieve more.”
Classroom of Hope’s mission remains unwavering, but with Happy Hearts Indonesia by our side, our capacity to bring about change is amplified and our reach and impact will only grow.
As our CEO, Tanya Armstrong, said:
“By joining forces with Happy Hearts Indonesia, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of Indonesian children. Our shared commitment to education and sustainability drives us to create sustainable schools that have a lasting impact. Together, we will build schools that provide equal access to quality education, empowering children to thrive and become agents of change in their communities.”
To all our supporters, we invite you to be a part of this renewed journey. While we celebrate this collaboration, our mission remains more significant than just one organization or partnership. It’s about forging ahead to create a future where every child has access to quality education in an environment that’s built to last.