Children of

A short photo story about children who live at a slum area alongside Ciliwung River in Jakarta.

It was a sunny day, back at mid June in 2015. I was assigned to document a torch rally at a village near Manggarai, celebrating the upcoming Holy Month of Ramadan.

A man prepares torches for the rally.

Local children always gave warm greeting.

I found out the rally will be started at 8 PM, the clock was showed 4.30 which I still have more than 3 hours to wait. So I decided to go around. Then unexpected things happened.

I came across this huge stack of concretes, which planned to be constructed to revitalize Ciliwung river as an act preventing future flooding. And I saw children playing kites.


I was really curious to find out what's happening behind this concrete stacks. So I climbed up.

View from the top. It was a maze, a playground for children and teenagers who lives nearby. Their houses are on the background.

A sincere happiness, taught me that I don't have to have everything to be happy.

And I looked down..

Children were playing in a murky Ciliwung River

They drove mattress as a boat.

A boy swims at the river with pile of trash in the background.

I felt really complicated at the moment. A scenery that resonates really well with my childhood, reminded me of time when I used to play at a canal near my house every after school. Yet, juxtaposed with the reality that I just saw, their only playground was a dirty and murky Ciliwung river. In this big city where it never sleeps, lies a story about happiness that can be found in the most unlikely place.


It's the city where people sets no destination. It's the city where people keep escaping from. The infamous traffic jam, the annual flood.

I could say I have travel to a lot of places. But Jakarta and its stories never stop to intrigue a smile in a face behind my camera. I just keep falling in love within loads of loathes people said every day about this city.

At the end of the day, senior photographer canceled the assignment to cover the torch rally. I never went to cover the torch rally.

I still cherish these moments up until now, knowing that day, I was destined to capture this scenery. Now, the playground has gone due to the construction of Ciliwung river. I will never be able to comeback to shoot the same moment again.

Children of Ciliwung by Nyimas Laula Instagram : @nyimaslaula #people #stellerid #stellerstories #streetphotography #jakarta #indonesia #people #portrait