Veronica Prehatiningsih

National Sponsorship Coordinator SOS Children's Villages in Indonesia
photo: © Stefan Lechner Photography

Struggles changed my destiny

I want to join the dancing...

“Please, raise your hands, those who want to join the dancing for welcoming the special guest next Sunday,” asked the dancing teacher. Of course, I raised my hand as high as I could. She then mentioned the names of those who had raised their hands, except my name... I knew right away why she had not chosen me. I understood so well. She only chose the pretty ones or she did not see my hand… At that time I was 12 years old when I started to lose my self-confidence. I liked taking part in various activities but I would become very shy. I even began to tremble when it came to perform or talk in front of many people. To sum things up, I completed my high school well and, as was the rule, I had to do a one-year internship before continuing to college.
What a nice feeling!
After doing two years of internship as a kindergarten teacher and substituting mothers at the SOS Children's Village Lembang, along with an SOS sister who grew up in the same family house, in 1988 I got an offer to learn some administrative work at the SOS Children’s Village Davao, Philippines. Realising how people were always comparing me with her, I really did my best to follow all the work and lessons. I was proud to finally “beat” her in both performances. What a feeling! Returning home after 6 months of training, instead of going to college, I was recruited as one of the administrative staff of the SOS Children’s Village Lembang.
Learning by doing, why not?
I used all the practice from the administrative work that I had done in the Philippines. Except for my English skills that were very bad. I felt I had made no progress at all! Unfortunately, English skills were needed for my work in the future. I found it complicated, especially the grammar. I attended a course but could not succeed. My first job doing English communication was retyping letters written by my supervisor Mrs. Prawoto, the wife of the late founder of SOS Children’s Villages Indonesia. The retyping work finally gave me an interest in having better English skills. I then started the task of translating children’s letters from Indonesian into English. I made many mistakes even in a very short letter. Mrs. Prawoto patiently did the corrections. Going from the short letters until I finally dared to translate much longer letters, there were still a lot of mistakes but I liked it. Why? Because through the corrections I learned so much and even made significant progress! Even if my mistakes decreased, I was still not good at grammar, but at least my English skills improved. I think I gained a little self-confidence thanks to Mrs Prawoto who has always been very supportive.
From a village staff member to the National Office
In early 2000, my office moved from Lembang to Bandung, about 13 km away. I made a lot of progress with my work. I was given the responsibility of writing the mid-year and end-of-year letters, which I considered as a complement. Mrs. Prawoto used to be the one doing the letters and was still doing it even after retirement. For a few years, she still checked and corrected my writing, however, she could not always do this because she had many other activities after having retired. It made me feel bad when she apologised for being late checking the letters. This finally gave me the idea to propose myself for attending the three-month English course in Cambridge, one of the SOS International programmes for students. I really wanted to do the letters independently and not rely on others. Why did I want to join the lessons in Cambridge and not in my own country? For me it would be more effective to have the lessons there since I would have a bigger chance to practice in both communicating and writing. Even thinking in English would happen when I met native English speakers.
The burning spirit recedes…
Time went by... I was hoping to get good news about my proposal. However, one morning I heard a loud rush calling my colleague’s name. I was wondering if something had happened. She went to the person who had called her and it took quite a long time until she returned to our room. "Hi, what happened?" I asked her when she came back. "Hem…hem…hem..," she answered me reluctantly. She looked uncomfortable. I did not force her to tell me. I tried to be ready to listen to any bad news, as it could clearly be seen from her 'guilty feeling' looks... I did not know how to describe my feelings, my body language or even my look! I tried hard not to cry and to keep being tough... It was not because she was the one who would go to Cambridge but the way I got the news. I really did not understand why he had told this secretly. All the spirit I had gained all this time receded. There were few more bitter experiences of not being trusted and appreciated, and this made me feel inferior. It was very unfortunate, because it happened at my work place, which is at SOS Children's Villages Indonesia. I was acknowledged and trusted when I was outside the SOS Village, especially when it related to the church’s activities. However, of course, this was not the place where I could earn a living!
Main message of the story
Anyway, the main message of my story is not about getting income or money. It is mainly about how important it is that a person is trusted, appreciated and acknowledged. These feelings will give a positive impact to one’s personality, improvement and performance, the feeling to give the best they can for their job.

Veronica Prehatiningsih (Balulewa)

One thing that Veronica has learned from her work is that technology is unavoidable. She admits to being a little “old-fashioned” and enjoying her comfort zone. However, working with much younger colleagues with their far-reaching vision helped her learn new computer skills and not be left behind. She now enjoys working with technology and can feel the advantages: her work is now easier, faster and more practical.
Veronica is married with three children and lives in Bandung, Indonesia. The city, where the climate is described as the best in the country, is surrounded by dormant volcanoes and dotted with art deco buildings that are a legacy of Dutch colonial times.
Veronica enjoys her “lazy” weekends watching movies and TV, or reading. Her hobbies include singing and listening to music, and she is an absolute dog lover. She hopes to have her own dog one day.