Being in a community development project is an eventful experience that holds many possibilities. A lot of unexpected things can very much occur within such a short period of time, which is very challenging, but such complex experience can really come a long way. We feel that this experience is beyond simply learning about a community’s culture and that there are many personal benefits. As we engage in a very unpredictable environment, we feel that the experience hones better work ethic and personal skills. Moreover, it teaches about how human relationships are very important in holding bits and pieces of the project together.
Over the course of six weeks in January and February of 2017, Salsa and Emily, two students from Melbourne University were lucky enough to be invited into the community of Banjaroyo. With the help and advisement of Satunama and AVI over the course of these weeks we were able to create an advocacy campaign in relation to clean air, with particular focus on children’s right to live in a clean and healthy environment. Within this campaign we have focused on two main issues, FCTC and the burning of plastic within the home. The burning of plastic and the smoking of cigarettes in particularly impinges on a child’s right to both development and health in body and mind. All children no matter their place of birth, religion or gender innately have these rights. Children have fundamental right to be provided with a standard of living which enables them to develop and grow to their fullest potential. The burning of plastic and cigarettes severely stifles this right as the toxins released through these two practices not only effect the health of children but also the health of unborn children, and can cause infertility in both men and women.
The advocacy project focuses on developing the community’s sense of awareness regarding the aforementioned topics by engaging with the members of community through activities and socializations. We engage by joining many meetings with the community members who commonly organize the daily to weekly activities of the people, such as the PKK, the village’s Kader, one of the Posyandu, one of the Dasawisma, the government officials such as the Head Village and the Head District, and the existing youth group in that community. We gave out presentations with booklets to share our knowledge regarding waste management and cigarette management in homes. We also arrange craft days with children and the mothers, so that they understand the application to the knowledge that we have shared. Moreover, we have put great efforts into implementing the culture of separating wastes by joining existing clean up days to creating fun activities with the children.
During our time with in the community of Banjaroyo we were invited openly into many homes where we were offered delicious food, often made by the people of the household. We were able to learn the process through which local community food products were made, Selondok Gethuk for example. The local production and distribution of this food brought with it a strong sense of community and value which humbled the both of us as it differs very much from our experience of food at home.
We were also lucky enough to engage with the community’s local arts and music festivals where we were able to experience the rich music of Gamberlan and a Jatilan ceremony. Emily had tried her best at playing Gamelan, but struggled to keep up, yet playing the Gamelan has developed a rich appreciation of the music’s intricacies within her. Emily will continue to appreciate its hypnotic sound from a far. Salsa picked it up much more quickly which can be attested to her Indonesian heritage and her more advanced musical ear.
The relationships we formed over the course of our time truly formed the fabric of our experience for which we have Satunama and the community of Banjaroyo to thank for. The people we formed relationships with humbled us with their respect, generosity and selflessness. The culture of both Banjaroyo and Satunama buzzes with an air of happiness and home which is built through the both community’s sense of humor, passion for others wellbeing and gratitude for life. These are qualities with which we feel our home community could learn from, and we hope to take as much of them as we can into our daily lives.
We feel that these experiences that arise from building relationships and engaging deeply into the community’s culture is a determinant factor that pushes our advocacy project further. We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all those who participated in making our experience what it has been. The list is too long to go through in this article, but we would like to give special mention to Satunama, our family in Banjaroyo, the children of SBM and AVI.