A Day in the Life of a Child Development Center Worker

Selvie, a 41-year-old single parent, has been serving as the coordinator of Elohim Child Development Center for almost two years now.

During her first year at the center, Selvie had been facing obstacles, which came from both her own family and the community around the center.

She had to take care of her two children and her new enlarged family. Her husband had left her after 16 years and left her in anguish. She moved back to her parents’ house, where her two siblings along with their families had just moved in, too.

The community doubted whether Selvie would be able to manage the ministry. They thought it was her fault that her family had been broken.

Surrendering to God’s will is what Selvie has been doing as well as raising her children. She has two children; the oldest, Indriani Natalia, graduated from college few months ago and the youngest, Aldo Aprillio Samuel, is in fifth grade now.

Selvie has been spending up to 12 hours a day for the ministry since appointed to be the center coordinator. Her daily activities are more or less the same:

  • shopping for the children’s meal
  • going to the center to help the cook prepare the meals and to clean up the church
  • checking the reports and the day’s scheduled program
  • having praise and worship with children
  • talking with parents
  • coordinating with staff members after the activity
  • going back home

Spend a day with Selvie

  • 5.30 a.m. — Selvie starts her day with a personal devotion. Moments like this are the only time she has for herself and to express her feelings to God. She no longer asks God for things because she does not want to have a high expectation and get hurt if it will not happen. She learns to surrender her life in God’s will.
  • 7:00 a.m. — Selvie shops at the traditional market for rice and other needs for the children’s meals. She does that because the cooks are busy, so she takes charge in advance. There are eight cooks who are divided into two shifts. Each shift consists of four cooks who work a week at a time.
  • woman buying vegetables at a street market

  • 9:15 a.m. — At the center, Selvie helps the cook prepare their own breakfast and meals for children. At the same time, other workers are cleaning up the church. If they need help, Selvie won’t mind helping them since there nobody is appointed to clean the church.
  • 11:00 a.m. — Selvie checks the center reports for thirty minutes to one hour. Sometimes she continues sitting and thinking of new plans for children activities. This is the time when she can think clearly because the children haven’t come yet.
  • 12.15 p.m. — Selvie goes home for bathing. If she has time, she would take rest for thirty minutes or put clothes in order. But she rarely has the chance.
  • 1:45 p.m. — Selvie joins the children in praise and worship for fifteen to thirty minutes before the activities begin. It is the perfect time for her to interact with the children. She would ask children about their condition and whether they prayed for their parents and their school activities.
  • 2:00 p.m. — Selvie takes time to share children’s development and problems at the center with parents who wait outside the church.
  • 3:05 p.m. — Selvie and other center staff coordinate on every need. For example, a tutor reported that a nutrient for child growth is out of stock and so Selvie, without waiting for the tutors to finish the lessons, goes immediately to buy it despite the rain outside.
  • 4:30 p.m. -– As activities end, Selvie usually watches over the center staff who take turns to clean up the church.
  • 5:03 p.m. — Selvie and the tutors hold an informal meeting at the kitchen. They exchange information about the children’s problems and development and brainstorm ideas about what to do to help.
  • women sitting in a room talking

  • 6:03 p.m. — The dusk comes; it is time for Selvie to go home. Her house is a fifteen minute walk from the center. Many times, Selvie and her friends spend more time at her house and share more time together.

Each day is a tiring day. Nevertheless, like Jesus, Selvie does not complain about how tired she is. It is in the ministry and from children that she finds encouragement and a daily lesson for becoming like Jesus.

“For me, a true leader is the one who serves others, just like Jesus to His disciples. If you just command and ask your staff to do this and that but you don’t really do what you’ve said, you are not a good leader.”

In spite of all her activities, Selvie still makes time to prepare breakfast for Aldo, who goes to school at seven in the morning. She also utilizes her time to have a chat with both of her children when she gets home in the evening because she realizes that she is the only parent they have right now. She has never passed a day without spending time with them.

12 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Laura February 5, 2009

    Wow, God can use us in so many ways if we let him. She doesn’t complain, like Jesus. I need to remember that when I want to complain. Go bless you and your blog. I feel more connected with Compassion.

  2. Stacy Lagasse January 28, 2009

    I am interested in knowing what the center may need. I am also an early childhood educator and am beginning to feel the pull toward the child development centers run by Compassion.

  3. Andrzej Gandecki September 24, 2008

    Yes, I’m interested.

  4. Chris Giovagnoni September 24, 2008

    Hello everyone.

    Are you interested in having Oktovina check with the child development center to see what its needs are and how you could help?

  5. Andrzej Gandecki September 16, 2008

    I see Selvie is moving around a lot. Does the Elohim Project have a transport vehicle or at least a bike?

    If not, maybe we could buy one for them?

  6. Kees Boer September 16, 2008

    Hi, Vicki,

    I actually interviewed Michelle Tolentino right before I went to Bolivia. I should have her story up pretty soon. It was one of the most amazing interviews, I’ve ever done. She was so kind and she absolutlely loves her sponsor.


  7. Tom Easterday September 16, 2008

    Here is another eye opening and humbling realization that I need to have a better realization of… I make a monthly payment in support of a project and my sponsored child. Workers like Selve give so, so much more.

  8. Vicki Small September 16, 2008

    That’s a good video choice, Kees.

    I am not certain how the cultures in which we work define “success,” but I’m *quite* certain they do not share the typical U.S. definition.

    Jamie, Wess Stafford has often said, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is *enough*.” I wish you could have read some of the e-mails I saw from Mark Gehri, at Compassion, when he and his wife were hosting an LDP student from the Philippines. She was so amazed and thrilled when she was introduced to the washing machine! She is now studying at Moody Bible Institute, I believe, but even with a university degree and an advanced degree (once she finishes at Moody), if she returns to the Philippines, she will not be likely to have a washing machine. But she will have “enough.” You can read about her at https://www.compassion.com/contribution/giving/leadershipdevelopment.htm. I didn’t look closely, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find a link to one of the videos of her telling her story; prepare to be moved!

  9. Kees Boer September 16, 2008

    Hi, Jamie,

    This is a great question. One video that would really answer a lot of the question is:


    It’s about 9 minutes long, but it is one of the best videos that I’ve seen about Compassion that really shares a lot of the things that Compassion does.

    Being from another country myself, I would think that every country has its own schooling system. For instance in Holland, a University would be equivalent to Graduate work here in the USA.

    My understanding is that the children that graduate from the Compassion project will have a marketable skill, which will provide for them to be able to have enough. Some of the students that demonstrate particular leadership will be also going into the Leadership Development Program. But the video shows a lot of that.


  10. Jamie September 15, 2008

    With a son who just started Kindergarten, I am curious about what the expectations are for 4 and 5 year olds in terms of education in another country. Are the standards similar to the U.S.? When it comes to education, what do most people Indonesia, for example, aspire to? College? Job training? I am very curious about the end result, because in the U.S. we are often prepping kids for college with the idea that it will make them “successful.” Is that so in other countries?
    Other than getting to know God, what is the most important knowledge/skill a child will learn through a Compassion program?

  11. Juli Jarvis September 15, 2008

    I love this sentence most: “It is in the ministry and from children that she finds encouragement and a daily lesson for becoming like Jesus.” Her example comes from the children themselves! How awesome is that??!?

  12. Brittany September 15, 2008

    “Selvie does not complain about how tired she is.” This hits close to home…I was just “complaining” about how physically tired I am raising three children…this is a good wake up call for me. Boy do I feel a bit silly…

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