Couple cares for 68 children


A Javanese couple living in the Balinese capital of Denpasar has a family of 68 children.

The two are not the children’s biological parents, but they feed, educate, house, clothe and love them as if they were their own.

Marde Tommy, a Protestant pastor and his wife Sandra are both in their mid-60s and dedicate their lives to supporting children and young adults who need a place to call home.

Tommy bought the land for the Seeds of Hope orphanage in 1998 using donations and his own money.

The orphanage was built and ready to operate in March 2001.

Four months later, Sandra suffered a stroke that affected her mobility.

Despite the setback, she has continued to run the orphanage and has devoted her life to every child.

However, living costs are high and funding from the Indonesian Government only equates to $A110 a month.

This is far from sufficient, so donations are essential.

Children and young adults at the orphanage are aged between 1 and 22 years – and come from a range of religious backgrounds.

They originate from all parts of Indonesia, including Java, Sumatra, East Indonesia and Bali.

Almost half the children have families that are too poor to care for them. Without Seeds of Hope they would be destitute.

To ensure the children have a better start in life, Sandra ensures all children attend school – and when they graduate, study at university or undertake an apprenticeship.

Four years ago, two women from Western Australia – Lisa Cooper and Susan Phillips – wanted to donate time and money to a Balinese orphanage.

“Some of the orphanages we visited were institutionalised and the children looked miserable,” says Susan who has spent the past three years fundraising.

After meeting Sandra, Tommy and the children, Susan and Lisa made up their minds that Seeds of Hope was different.

However, the living conditions were very basic. The building needed renovation and this was considered a priority.

“Our first concern was the mould visible on the bedroom walls, so we organised funds to fix that problem,” Lisa says.

She has helped raise awareness among family, friends and colleagues.

The two have raised funds for new bedding, flushing toilets, medicines, household items and consumables.

Their current project is to raise $AU50,000 to build an education room.

The children currently study in the orphanage dining room.

The children’s love for Tommy, Sandra and their home is evident.

“Sandra isn’t my mother but she loves me like a son,” says 19-year-old I Puta Anton Paulus.

“Living at the orphanage makes me happy because I have lots of friends here.

“Sandra helps us learn to be diligent students.”

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