Salsa and Dea are blind teenagers, who have been friends since kindergarten but now living in two different countries, Indonesia and the U.S. Their heartwarming bitter-sweet coming-of-age story moves the audience to see beyond what is now available for young people living with disabilities in Indonesia.
Aim for the Stars tells the story of two visually impaired childhood friends, who are now teenage girls living separately in two different countries, the USA and Indonesia. SALSA (17) is unable to see since birth. She has to live in a dorm—a social house for blind and mute, to gain access to an inclusive school in Jakarta. DEA (17) was brought by her parents to the US to get a better education. The two friends remain in contact and united in spirit, despite different realities that they face everyday. Salsa wants to be a Math teacher, while Dea is pursuing her passion for writing. Dea is a writer for her school’s online magazine while Salsa is involved in a band. Indonesia has the second largest population of blind and visual impairment in the world after Ethiopia (around 3.5 million or 1.5% from 250 million people—total Indonesia population). Indonesia has issued laws that encourage schools to include students with special needs to ensure equal access to education. Currently, only 15 percent of elementary and secondary education in Indonesia accept students with special needs. Most schools are either unable to enrol them or still perceiving them as extra burdens and liabilities for the school’s academic prestige. Although the Indonesian law requires the government to provide additional support for people with disabilities to obtain education, this support is rarely available; preventing schools to be able to afford special teachers and supportive infrastructure for visually impaired students and students with other disabilities to engage fully in the education process. This reality takes away the birthright of every child to be educated. The most immediate campaign target is Indonesian schools that admit students with special needs. Despite their inclusive brand, not all inclusive schools have facilities, teachers, and policies that ensure access to education to students with special needs. We want the film to be shown to school administrators, teachers, and policy to show how their schools can be improved by providing extra help for students with special needs. The film also aims to influence young audience and general public to foster empathy and inclusive behaviours for people living with disabilities so that public support for better infrastructure and access for disabled communities can be built. We also seek partners who can provide necessary training for blind teenagers to obtain jobs that are aligned with their passion and skills.