Little hands, big help 

Indonesia fundraiser raised funds, awareness, hope

While big name acts such as Norman Foote, David Steele and Shari Ulrich took to the stage at a fundraiser for tsunami victims last week, it was the musicians’ children who stole the show, singing and playing alongside their parents; kids helping kids oceans apart.

A tsunami devastated South East Asia in 2004, leaving behind 15,000 children under the age of five with no parents, no homes, and no hope. An earthquake and tsunami this July further devastated the area of Java, leading to local business owner Jay Wahono of the Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa taking steps to raise much-needed funds for his fellow Indonesians.

The result was the Helping Hands: West Coast Artists for UNICEF Concert last Friday at MY Millennium Place, followed by an artist dinner at the Bearfoot Bistro. Attendance to the events was modest, raising $1,500 for the cause.

"The artists have shown their deepest sympathy to what is going on in Indonesia through their songs and their kind words to me before and after the show," Wahono said. "We were all strangers a day before the show, but suddenly we all feel like we are all one family united for the children. I hope this show impacted all the audiences the way it impacted me. I always find my solace, my inspiration and my comfort among my children. All those songs, kind words and beautiful music were dedicated for all our children – a gentle reminder that we all have to work together to make our world a better place for them to live in."

More than 20 artists, adults and children alike, filled the stage at MY Millennium Place to make a better place. Michelle Creber, daughter of concert organizers Michael and Monique Creber, led a song she composed herself; she wanted to make a difference. The song, titled Kids Helping Kids, illustrated how everyone can contribute to making change in the world, regardless of age.

"Kids that are out there may need our help. Some of them hungry or getting hurt. They need to be safe and warm. They need our help today," the six-year-old sang with a chorus of 10 other children: The Creber Music Singers. "Kids helping kids is the way to go… Living, learning, happy and free."

Bunyan Saptomo, consul general of Indonesia, explained help is something his homeland is always in need of. Located in the ring of fire, Indonesia constantly faces natural disasters. In addition to earthquakes, the series of 17,000 islands extending over 5,000 kilometres is home to more than 100 active volcanoes. More than 300 ethnic groups make up the population, with 250 languages spoken.

Saptomo said the Canadian government has come forward with plans to build 3,000 homes in the area as well as cash funding for food and medical needs.

Indonesia is currently undergoing a five-year reconstruction plan. Java, where damage after the most recent earthquake and tsunami was not as severe as the 2004 event, is following a one-year reconstruction plan.

"I would like to express my sincere thanks to the international community, the Canadian government and people of Whistler who are providing assistance for the victims of the tsunami and earthquakes in Java," Saptomo said.

Proceeds from the concert and dinner benefit the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the children of the world.

"Things are still being rebuilt," said UNICEF spokesperson Denise Meade of Indonesia. "I think it is going to be a longer process than anyone could have expected."

Visit www.unicef.org/indonesia"> to learn more or call 1-800-567-4483 to donate.

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