Statue of Obama as boy erected in Indonesian park

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2009 8:10 AM

A statue of President Barack Obama as a 10-year-old wearing shorts and a T-shirt has been erected in a Jakarta park to inspire children in the country where he lived as a boy, officials said Wednesday.

The almost life-sized statue, to be unveiled Thursday by Jakarta's governor, shows the young Obama smiling at a butterfly that has landed on his upheld left thumb.

It stands in Taman Menteng Park, near where Obama lived from 1967 until 1971 with his American mother, his Indonesian stepfather and his half-sister. The park was previously an athletic field near Obama's elementary school.

"We welcome the statue, which is designed to give Indonesian children the spirit to reach their dreams," Central Jakarta Mayor Sylviana Murni said.

"There is a message through the young Obama statue that any child and anyone from any background can reach their dreams if they fight for it persistently," she added.

Money for the bronze statue, which cost more than $10,000, was donated by eight Indonesian patrons, a television station and a charity that helps Indonesia's urban poor, said the chairman of the nonprofit Friends of Obama Foundation, Ron Mullers. The Indonesia-based foundation came up with the idea of the statue and found the donors.

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Obama has described his Indonesian experience as both exotic and enlightening.

He had a pet monkey, and baby crocodiles swam in a pond behind his house. But he also saw Third World poverty and disease.

The statue's pedestal carries an paraphrased quote from former U.S. first lady Eleanor Roosevelt reading, "The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams."