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© Dien S. Yuen / email@example.com Asian Philanthropy Forum / www.asianphilanthropyforum.org
Map from Lonely Plant
Indonesia is an archipelago of 17,508 islands of which 6,000 are inhabited. It is the world’s third-largest democracy and home of the world’s largest Muslim population.
I arrived in Indonesia on the afternoon of May 9th. That morning, a strong earthquake hit the Northern Sumatra province. The 7.4 magnitude quake knocked out power and damaged some homes. A tsunami watch was issued but canceled less than 90 minutes later. Jakarta roads are ﬁlled with cars, buses, and motorcycles weaving around each other. The chaos has some order that only the local drivers know.
We had sweet tea with Santoso that afternoon. Santoso is the founder of several media groups including KBR68H, one of the largest private radio news agency in Indonesia. It serves a network of 650 radio stations throughout Indonesia and 9 countries in Asia. KBR68H supports journalism training, training for radio technicians and bringing access to radio in isolated parts of the country. It was also involved in rebuilding radio stations damaged or destroyed by the tsunami. Since radio stations need capital to purchase equipment, KNR68H also offers low-interest loans to its network. More than 50 of their clients have made use of this service and Santoso hopes to expand this pool for their growing membership. In 2008, Santoso founded Green Radio, a station focused on environmental topics. The station encourages listeners to take action to improve their local environment by making simple environmental-friendly choices everyday. Green Radio is the only radio station in Jakarta that uses solar power. Santoso is now working on Tempo TV. He saw a need for high-quality television programs and decided to raise the standards of television content in Indonesia. Tempo TV’s features and talk shows are broadcasted by 10 local stations and one subscription channel.
PKSD Mandiri (Mandiri means “independent”) was established as a non-for-proﬁt model school. It offers an interactive learning approach that allows students to develop as inquirers, thinkers, communicators, and risktakers. Give2Asia has supported the work of PKSD Mandiri since 2004. The school has been successful in bringing together the national curriculum with innovative, engaging and effective learning methods and approaches. Instruction is in English and Bahasa Indonesia and the students are prepared to follow national and global educational opportunities after graduation. PSKD Mandiri is an inclusive school. It accepts diverse students and the school is one of the very few that accepts children with special needs, including those with dyslexia and autism. PSKD conducts high performance evaluations on the executive, operational and teaching teams with the objective of developing a sustainable model that can be replicated at other schools. The teachers and administrators participate in weekly on-going training programs. The school had incorporated the seven habits model adopted from the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When we visited the school, the children were singing the Leader in Me song. Dressed in their purple school uniform, we had several divas in the front leading the pack! Please click here to visit the video I had posted on YouTube of the children singing the Leader in Me.
Map from baliwww
The December 26, 2004 tsunami devastated Banda Aceh. It was caused by a 9.1 magnitude undersea earthquake. An estimated 170,000 people were killed, including 35,000 whose bodies were never found.
The tsunami left a large number of orphans and the chaos and confusion that followed provided a ripe climate for child trafﬁcking and an increase in the number of children that would be forced into the streets. FriendsInternational conducted a preliminary assessment of the situation and started operations to reduce the number of street children in Aceh in 2007. The program launched with funds provided by Give2Asia. To effectively communicate with the children, the Friends International program in Banda Aceh was given the name of Teman Baik (“good friend” in Bahasa, the local language). Teman Baik has a team of 12 Acehnese social workers, teachers and medical assistants working with 500 vulnerable children and youth. The program provides basic services, emergency support, social reintegration, and a higher awareness of the risks of child trafﬁcking, the sex industry, and drug abuse. After our visit, Give2Asa provided a grant to support the continuing operations of the program and to develop a pilot vocational training business (a coffee shop) to offer entry-level skills development in hospitality so the youth will have marketable skills. In addition, the social business will help Teman Baik towards ﬁnancial sustainability. ChildSafe Network, Banda Aceh Teman Baik manages the ChidSafe Network. The goal of the Network is to develop an extensive child protection network encouraging the local community to take responsibility to defend child rights and protect children from all forms of abuse. Becak drivers are trained and certiﬁed to recognize and respond to children in dangerous situations and abuses. Becak drivers meet regularly to discuss how to respond if members witness child sexual abuse physical abuse, unsafe migration, health problems and accidents. Becak drivers that participate in the program wear the signature blue jacket. Friends International also has the same ChildSafe Network program in Phnom Penh.
Teman Baik has a mobile van that is used as a mobile school to support and maintain children from impoverished communities. The van is also used to provide activities to youth in the community. When we arrived that day, the mobile van was stationed at a bus transit parking lot. The children were waiting already when the van arrived. Children can use the books, games, toys, musical instruments and other materials.
The Teman Baik team took us to a small alleyway where several young drug-users were living. We saw a Teman Baik counselor speaking to three girls around the age of 15. A boy around 10 was sleeping on the mattress. We spent some time with them. They were surprised that we cared to visit. In addition to serving as counselors and meeting children and youth on the streets, the team also provides basic services, including ﬁrst aid.
Down the street from the Friends International headquarters, I saw this jackfruit tree in the front yard of a home. I have never seen a jackfruit tree before. After our meetings, the driver took us to several markets in search for a ripe jackfruit. We were not able to ﬁnd one but it might have been a good thing because I had not thought about what to do with it if we did. Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. It can weigh as much as 80 pounds! To satisfy my fruit craving, I settled for some salak and mangoes. Salak (aka snake fruit) is about the size of a small pear. The fruit inside is white and it tastes like green apples. The one I had was crunchy and sweet but a bit dry. The fruit seller had cut a mango for my friend and I was salivating when I saw the moist, yellow-orange fruit. I bought a mango and took it back to the hotel. That night, it took me awhile to ﬁgure out how to peel a mango without a knife. 9
Our 28 year-old, English speaking driver took us to a local “pick your seafood and tell us how you want it cooked” restaurant. The restaurant sits next to a lake where they raise the ﬁsh we had for dinner. Here, Binyo, our advisor with our driver, as we enjoyed dinner and a beautiful sunset. 10
The tsunami lifted boats and placed them far inland. In the village of Lampulo, a boat called the “Noah’s Ark” by some, landed on top of a twostory house three kilometers inland. The boat became a refuge for 59 survivors. The neighbors climbed in and watched the destruction around them for seven hours. The 30 meter long, wooden, ﬁshing boat remains lodged on the roof ﬁve years later. It was repainted as part of the tsunami’s ﬁfth anniversary events and a viewing platform was installed. The new tourist attraction sits on a small road with homes on all sides. As we were leaving, a large tour bus was navigating its way to the site. Everyday, these neighbors are reminded about the tragic event. Another “tourist attraction” is several kilometers away. A ﬂoating 63-meter diesel power plant in the ocean supplied one-third of the electric power to Banda Aceh. The plant was carried ﬁve kilometers inland by the tsunami. The PLTD Apung I is a 2,600 ton ship and landed on a two-lane road in Punge Blang Cut Village. The locals say that many people were crushed beneath the vessel. The cost of moving the vessel to sea was too prohibitive. However, it can still generate electricity. As a tsunami monument, it is now owned by the local government.
We were following the truck of our new friends, Megan King and Roberto Hutabarat, of Caritas Czech Republic. The drive to visit their projects inland was four hours each way. Our drive took us out of the city to a newly paved road along the beach. The waves were gently gliding on-shore and I could not imagine that a horriﬁc event had taken place in this spot several years ago. Caritas CR arrived in Aceh, Indonesia in February 2005. More than ﬁve years after the tsunami, only a handful of international NGOs are left (compared to all time high of 16,000 NGO staff and 800 NGOs). The departure of the NGOs have left inﬂated real estate prices, depressed hotel and restaurant industries and many other issues in the community. Groups like Caritas CR and Friends-International were left to pick up the pieces while continuing their work in the area. More than eight billion dollars was committed to Aceh after the tsunami tore through the Muslim province. About 1.5 billion was spent on housing, including the construction of 130,000 homes. However, many homes lacked piped water and electricity so they remain empty. In addition, many villagers were worried whether their homes were earthquake resistant. Others were upset that the subsequent homes built were nicer than the ones they had received. The colorful, brand new homes lined the road, with markings of groups that had built them, Red Cross, Save the Children, etc. Cattle and goats were provided to the people - even to furniture makers that have never raised cattle before. The cattle are not penned and they roam the land freely. We stopped for a few minutes when this group of cattle was mingling in the middle of the road. Megan tells us that the local villagers called them “NGO cows” or “walking rats”. They are a pest - roaming freely, eating plants and defecating everywhere. I asked Megan where the NGOs obtained hundreds and thousands of cows for the villagers. She said they were shipped in from Australia and elsewhere. The villagers only had two uses for them: sacriﬁce during the religious holiday and after rice harvesting, the cows were encouraged to go in and clear the land and defecate. The cow dung was good fertilizer. The taste of the beef is different from the local variety, so the villagers do not like it. There are many successes from the tsunami recovery and rebuilding. However, there were also many mistakes and lessons learned. 12
One major rebuilding efforts was the $250 million highway running 150 kilometers down Aceh’s western coast. The highway starts from Banda Aceh and ends in Calang. The project is managed by USAID and the locals know it as the “highway from the American people.” The intent was to reconnect communities and provide for easier travel. While many welcome the highway, some were unhappy because of the payments received for their land (some claim that they have not received their payments). Approximately 3,280 parcels were bought but the value of the properties were disputed because it was ruined by the tsunami. We drove on the paved highway for about an hour and then hit the unpaved portion. The highway is only partially complete. Rocks, pebbles, and potholes met us. At one point, we had to detour to a local road because of rock slides. We also noticed that mountains of red dirt were cut and we wondered if landslides would occur in the future. As we crossed bridges, a young boy would be waiting on the other side with a bucket. We would stop and the driver would drop small bills into the bucket. I asked the driver what it was for. He said it was a private bridge and we had to pay a fee. As we headed into a village, we were also greeted by another young boy with a bucket. The driver said the collection was for the mosque.
As we made our way inland and up the mountains, we stopped at a look-out area. High above the mountains, I saw the ocean below us. Megan pointed to the bay and she said that it was new. Underneath the water is a village. The trees were on top of a mountain and the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami turned the mountain into an island with eight waves. The villagers described it as a black monster swallowing people in its path.
In order to get to Masen Village, we had to cross a river. Since the new bridge was not completed, we had to cross the traditional way. The cars are driven onto a ﬂoating platoon. We could sit in the car during the ﬁve minute ride across the brown, murky water. However, the idea of six cars and 18 people on what was basically ﬂoating drums and wood didn’t settle with me. We got out of the car and into the heat.
As we entered into the third of the four hour road trip, we stopped at this family’s home to use their facilities. As I’ve traveled to rural parts of Asia, I am still surprised how easy it is to ask for such a request. The people are generous and provide what they can - even to strangers. The children were amused with Megan and her blonde hair. She tried to speak with them in their native language and the children giggled. Grandma was also amused and after several attempts, she ﬁnally let me snap her picture.
The farmers of Masen Village were producing enough rice for eight months out of the year. To make ends meet, they were dependent on government subsidy programs and by purchasing rice from other communities. Caritas CR began working with Masen Village in October 2008 to establish a demonstration plot for intensive rice paddy cultivation using the organic system of rice intensiﬁcation (SRI) method. The SRI method of growing rice requires the farmer to intensively manage the seed, soil and water usage in the paddy. While the method is labor intensive, it can increase the rice yield more than eight times in one year. It also allows the farmers to plant twice a year. The 1.2 hectare demonstration plot in 2008 grew to thirteen hectare in 2010. Caritas CR’s goal is to have the SRI methodology in use in thirty of the ﬁfty hectares in Masen. They have trained forty-seven farmers in to use the SRI organic method. Caritas CR provides ﬁeld staff that works closely with the farmers. To show their commitment, Caritas CR also set up a base-camp within a short distance to Masen Village so their ﬁeld staff can travel frequently to see the farmers.
The farmer pictured above was the ﬁrst farmer that had agreed to learn the SRI organic method. His land was used for the demonstration plot. I asked him why he took the risk - was he not afraid of failing? He humbly nodded, but said Carita’s advisor, Roberto, and his staff explained the process and he trusted them. The farmer has since traveled to other villages to train others on the SRI methodology without compensation. When asked what he would like to do next, this soft spoken man smiled shyly and said he would like to learn the technical terminology so he could better explain the process. Masen Village was recently recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture in the Aceh Jaya District as an outstanding example of community farming. I left the site excited for Caritas CR and the farmers. It was a wonderful partnership that supported the work of local leaders. The Caritas CR staff supported the work of the farmers by earning their trust, connecting them to educational resources and provided the initial seed capital. The staff continues to meet with the farmers and helps them with strategy and planning. Yet, the decisions, work and recognition were taken on by the farmers. Caritas CR supported a local farmer and helped him become the entrepreneurial leader that he was.
The women of Aceh in mountainous regions suffered from thirty-years of armed conﬂict, which culminated in a state of Martial Law and heavy ﬁghting from 2002-2004. The guerilla war between the Indonesian Army and the Free Aceh Movement was waged in rural villages, putting civilians at risk. Many husbands and fathers were killed, leaving vulnerable families behind. Caritas CR committed to supporting conﬂict victims in Sampoiniet sub-district of the Aceh Jaya District. In Babah Dua village, there is a high concentration of widows or femaleheaded households. Nineteen women-headed households agreed to join the ﬁrst phase of an agro-forestry nursery. The self-organized group, Bungong Seulanga Nursey, was formed and in March 2009, work began.The project received the support of community leaders and the women participated in intensive permaculture and nursery training.
Bungong Seulanga Nursery “Women of Seulanga”
Seulanga is the name of a local ﬂower. 19
The nursery is run independently and Caritas CR provides infrastructure support for the women. They are now a member of the Sama Mangat Cooperative. During our visit with the women, they told us about the crops they had selected, including cash crops like chili and green vegetables. Other plants include durian, cocoa, and a plant called tranbesi. This plant is in high demand for its carbon offsetting value. These crops will take three years to mature. The women made decisions as a group. They showed us their books. Each book documented the number of plants in the nursery, vegetables grown and how much they sold the products for. All the women in the group can access the books at anytime. They proudly pointed to a page where they all received a dividend after six months of selling vegetables at the local market. I asked the women if any unexpected results came about. They laughed and said that the nursery has brought them closer together and they receive support from one another. It was a place where they could “share problems.” The women meet regularly and the community now sees them in a new light as they are now “business-people.” The nursery gave them conﬁdence and increased self-esteem. All the partners were pleasantly surprised that their livelihood project had also become a psycho-social program to beneﬁt the widows. The women are of various ages, many are under 40 with several children. They work as day laborers clearing farms but the work is seasonal. The Bungong Seulanga Nursery provides the women a new way to supplement their income and provide for their children. The current property belongs to a widow and she receives ﬁve percent of the proﬁts from the nursery. The women hope to locate land nearby to increase their plantings. In addition, they are focusing on a marketing strategy for their crops. With such a successful pilot, there are plans to launch additional projects like these for the other widows in the area.
In May 2006, an earthquake hit off the coast of Central Java. The regencies of Bantul and Klaten were the most affected. More than 2,912 schools were destroyed or badly damaged. At least 1,1700,00 people were made homeless (more than three times that of Aceh after the 2004 tsunami). Alison Chester founded the Bantul Kindergarten Project and started renovating and rebuilding Bantul’s kindergartens. In the ﬁrst ﬁve months, they built ten kindergartens and a community hall. Since then, 39 kindergartens have been rebuilt. The Project is supported by the MUM Foundation and supermodel, Petra Nemcova’s Happy Hearts Fund, both partners of Give2Asia. The Project has a full-time artist that travels to each school, painting colorful pictures on the walls. He picked me up from the hotel that morning and we visited two schools. Even though it was Saturday, school was in session for several hours.
After a long, hot day of walking, we decided to stop and have a coconut drink before our drive back to the hotel. We picked several coconuts from the stall and before the vendor proceeded to cut the coconut, we asked if we could “anti-bacterial wipe” her knife and hands. It was better to be safe than sorry later on! The woman was amused but obliged. While she was wiping her knife, her friends were giggling at her (or maybe it was us?!). I’ve learned to live without many amenities while traveling in Asia but I can’t live without mosquito cream and anti-bacterial wipes! The coconut water was warm and sweet. You can use the spoon to scrape the coconut meat off. For best results, use the spoon with the front facing you and dig at an angle from the top-downwards. My coconut had a lot of meat inside. It was worth the twenty-ﬁve cents!
Borobudur is located in central Java, Indonesia. While it is known as a Buddhist temple, the initial construction was planned by Hindu builders around 775 A.D. The temple is built in three tiers: a pyramid base, a trunk and a monumental stupa. It is composed of 55,000 square meters of lava-rock. The monument symbolizes the micro-cosmos: man’s world of desire is inﬂuenced by negative impulses, the world in which man has control of his negative impulses and uses his positive impulses, and the highest level, the world of man is no longer bounded by physical and world ancient desire (nirvana).
Borobudur: Pathway to Englightenment
The Borobudur structure is in the form of a lotus, the sacred ﬂower of Buddha. One enters the temple from the East Entrance and continues to circle clockwise with the Temple on your right three times. At each level, you continue to circle three times while chanting or meditating. This Buddhist tradition of circumambulating is called Pradaksina, under-taken as a sign of respect to the Temple. There are 92 Buddha statues and 1,460 relief scenes. Many of the Buddhas are missing their heads as they were sawed off and stolen. They were sold to collectors and you can ﬁnd some in museums today! Each Buddha has a mudra (hand gesture) indicating one of the ﬁve directions: east (calling the earth to witness), south (blessing); west (meditation), north (fearlessness), and center (gesture of teaching). 24
The structure became less and less ornate as we went up. Finally, when we reached the very top, nirvana, the walls were simple and quietly beautiful. Nirvana was very crowded so we decided to rest upon the pre-nirvana level and watched the sunset. 25
Until the next journey...
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