Have no fear, Super-isoman’s here

Friendly neighbourhood cheer: Agus wearing his Spider-Man costume as he entertains a family confined to their home due to Covid-19 restrictions in Sukoharjo, Central Java. — Reuters

AT the height of the country’s deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, Agus Widanarko donned a superhero outfit and made multiple visits to isolating households each day to bring some smiles and support to children.

His efforts have earned the 40-year-old, who normally works as a drug counsellor, the nickname “Super-isoman” (“isoman” refers to self-isolation in Indonesia).

“I do this as many children feel bored during the 14 days of isolation, so they need psychological assistance or trauma healing,” said Agus, who is also known as Danar.

At the start of the second wave in June, he visited about six families daily, dressed in a range of his superhero costumes, including Spider-Man and Batman.

With a drop in the caseload, Agus, who has entertained more than 100 children in four months, now conducts visits in his neighbourhood in Central Java once a week.

He recently visited five-year-old Muhammad Fakhri, who was isolating with his family and had lost his father to Covid-19.

“I am very happy that my son got some entertainment. It was his birthday yesterday and he was very sad that his father was not around,” said Nur Hidayah Brotowati, Muhammad’s mother.

Indonesia has faced one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia, recording more than four million cases and over 138,000 fatalities, with the young often bearing the brunt of mental and emotional anguish.

The United Nations’ children’s agency estimates that 80 million adolescents in Indonesia are facing widespread secondary impacts on their learning, health, nutrition and economic security due to the pandemic.

Fajri Kirana Anggarani, a psychology lecturer at Sebelas Maret University, said the visits could help children get some meaningful stimulus during the pandemic to support development of their imagination and social relations. — Reuters

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