Team Indonesia at the Street Child World Cup has found an unusual solution to a problem that is common among street children all over the world: the lack of birth certificates and identity papers. Benyamin Lumy, director of participating NGO Yayasam KDM, has become the adoptive father and legal guardian of 29 children who were at their football training camp.
“Twenty-nine children from seven cities were at our training camps and 70% of those did not have a birth certificate,” says Mr Lumy, who is also a father of four. “It is a common problem in Indonesia; of a population of 86 million under-18s, around 60% don’t have birth certificates.”
Though the children knew their birth dates and who their parents were, registration of a child requires his or her parents to complete a family document, which in turn requires a citizen document, and the 29 children’s families did not have these documents because they live in areas that are beyond the law. In recent years, NGOs have successfully campaigned on this issue and helped to bring about a change in the law whereby registering for a birth certificate is now free of charge.
Team Indonesia’s organisers pressed the authorities in the children’s local areas to speed up the application process and grant birth certificates, but this was only possible if all the children could be included on family documents, which their parents lacked. The result: Mr Lumy included them all on his own family document. “Yes, I now have my own four children and 29 others on my family document,” he said.
“We found out that it was quite easy to get their papers to come to Rio for the Street Child World Cup – it only took three days. Now that we have already done this to come to Rio de Janeiro, we will continue to advocate on this. If they can do this so easily to come to the Street Child World Cup, there is no reason they can’t continue to do it.”
After 17, children in Indonesia are able to apply for their own ID document, if they have been included in a family document. Of the 29 children who were at the training camps, 18 boys and girls who were chosen to represent the country in the final teams that have been thrilling onlookers with their skills and spirit at the tournament.
“No child should have to live on the streets. I commend the Street Child World Cup for providing a platform for the rights of street children to be heard.”
“I know from personal experience just what power football can have to inspire and change young people’s lives whatever their background or nationality. This is what the Street Child World Cup is all about and I give it my full support.”
“I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”