Generate Income & Hope From Non-Recyclable Garbage

by XSProject
A nurse checks  for tonsillitis.
A nurse checks for tonsillitis.

On September 4, XSProject once again partnered with Lestari Women and Children’s Hospital in Jakarta to conduct our annual Health Checkup for the trash picker families.

Seventy-four children and 35 adults received  complete checkups from the hospital nursing staff. For less than $5.00 each, which XSProject paid, every person received complete eye, ears, nose and throat exams. Despite urging from their wives, the men trash pickers are still fearful of doctors and medical clinics. Only one man came for the checkup.

Twenty-one adults and children received prescription glasses. We also treated one case of tonsillitis, many cases of chronic ear inflammation severe enough to cause deafness and several cases of cataracts.

These families make their homes at the open garbage dumps in Jakarta. Trash is typically burned which emits a constant flow of smoke. Methane from the rotting garbage hangs in the air they breathe daily and chemicals released from burning plastic, cause breathing problems.

Concern about the health of Jakarta’s trash picker community weighs on XSProject. In addition to the conditions the trash pickers live under, their diet has very little nutritional value and as a result, their health is fragile.

Until Jakarta’s “invisible” trash pickers can become “visible”, productive members of Indonesian society, their health and that of their children will continue to be tenuous and out of balance.

They rely on XSProject and we continue to offer vaccinations, treat chronic illnesses, pay for emergency treatment including surgery and provide eyeglasses and dental work.  The donations you make to GlobalGiving that XSProject receives, sometimes go to save a life, but more often pays for medicine to keep them healthy. Please help us continue our work with your donation to XSProject through GlobalGiving .

Hearing infections are common
Hearing infections are common
Some of the women are afraid, but brave
Some of the women are afraid, but brave
Getting fitted for her first pair of eyeglasses
Getting fitted for her first pair of eyeglasses
Ibu Salim, the oldest woman in the community.
Ibu Salim, the oldest woman in the community.

Over the years, as the size of the Cirendeu open garbage dump in Jakarta grew, the 7 wells, used by more than 100 trash picker families living there have become contaminated. For years the rotting garbage, with help from torrential rains and flooding, has been polluting their water supply.

These families wash, cook and drink the water from these wells. A simple skinned knee on a child becomes so infected medical treatment is required. Both adults and children have intestinal parasites. XSProject pays to treat these ailments as well as ringworm and hookworm. The cost to treat the illnesses that families get from the water has been rising every year.

Bringing clean water to this community has been XSProject’s goal. But it was not a simple task. Until we knew what contaminants were in the well water, we could not determine what level of filtration would make the water safe. It took more than six months of research, university and laboratory tests, collaboration with local water filtration companies and some very special folks at Rotary Clubs International before XSProject was able to locate the right water filtration method that every family would understand and want to use.

It was when the Jakarta Cilandak Rotary Club became so committed to this project, that progress toward a solution began. After reviewing the water tests and pursuing locally made products, they purchased and donated 70 water pots and filters for the families.  On July 30, their trucks delivered the water pots. With help from XSProject and the manufacturer, Richard S. and other members of the Cilandak Rotary Club taught the families how to use and take care of their filtered water pot containers.

 It was a very good day for everyone to have a drink of clear, thirst quenching water.

Getting instructions for filtering water
Getting instructions for filtering water
Receiving their filtered water pot
Receiving their filtered water pot
Richard S. with trash picker
Richard S. with trash picker
Thank You from the Cirendeu Community
Thank You from the Cirendeu Community


Darni Without Glasses!
Darni Without Glasses!

The vision problems started with Darni. It was really no surprise since living at the garbage dump and being subjected to the poor air quality and living in a dark house with only one light can put a lot of stress on your eyes. As Darni began to learn more intricate details in her advanced sewing classes she increasingly had more difficulty.

I told her to get her eyes checked. Even new frames are very expensive. But it just so happened that Noto, Darni’s husband, had found a pair of glasses when he was out picking trash. So Darni’s prescription lenses were popped into her “new” frames. Then she was very happy because she could see so much better.

Soon after Darni got her eyeglasses, XSProject partnered with RSIA Lestari Women and Children’s Hospital to offer the very first eye exams to every adult at the Cirendeu trash picker community. Any adults who could not see clearly could receive a free pair of eye glasses compliments of RSIA Lestari. Mostly just the young women and mothers got their eyes examined

Not long after they received their eyeglasses, many of the women stopped wearing them and began complaining of headaches. But Darni was still very happy with her prescription glasses. It was then that I understood the problem!

When Darni first got her prescription glasses, she told me that she had to take them off when she was not in sewing class because she was embarrassed about being teased. Other moms would say things like: “Oh, you look like a successful women.” (translation: you don’t deserve to be a successful women because of who you are).

I told her, “Forget about what other people say and just say it’s OK”.  I also told her that she was the first person to understand and appreciate the benefits of wearing glasses and to tell the other moms how her life is much easier now. Then everyone will want to wear their eye glasses.

When XSProject began offering vocational training in making jewelry, it was “clearly an eye opener” for the six members of the new class,  when they realized they were not  able to see the small details needed to make the jewelry.

Darni took three of the moms to the same eye doctor she went to.  One mom, Sutiah, had the worst eyes and the most difficulty working with small jewelry parts.

Frames, donated  by our supporters and donors in the US helped save XSProject money. It cost just $60.00 for the 3 pairs of prescription lenses. The moms got to choose their own frames. You can see how lovely Supena, Rokhanah and Sutiah look now.

Supena returned to the making jewelry class wearing her new glasses, and told her friends and neighbors how much better she could see.  Now other moms are thinking they probably need glasses too!

There are still many adults in the community who are afraid to have their vision checked. The mothers in this story have school aged children who have benefitted from receiving regular exams and eyeglasses. XSProject now regularly offers eye exams and eye glasses in the community. For a donation of $30.00 the gift of better vision can change a trash picker's life.  

Supena and Sutiah
Supena and Sutiah
Endi and His Mother, Ibu Salim
Endi and His Mother, Ibu Salim

The trash pickers of Jakarta have very little money and few  possessions. But as I travel through the community during my visits, I have met some very  generous people.  Not only do they share the little that they have but they freely open their hearts and homes to others even less fortunate than they are.

Thirty years ago, Endi was a 7 year old street kid in Jakarta. He had been living in an orphanage, and never knew his father. His mother visited him during holidays but could not take care of him. When she stopped visiting, he ran away. Endi survived on the streets of Jakarta working odd jobs for two years. When he was nine he met two other boys, Sapei and Sunardi. They felt sorry for Endi and convinced him to come home with them.

Home turned out to be the Cirendeu open garbage dump. Sapei and Sunardi were two of the eight children of Pak (Mr.) and Ibu (Mrs) Salim.  A  big family already, yet he was welcomed as if he was their own child. The Salim’s were Endi’s first real family. Pak Salim taught him important things to survive in the world, just as he had taught his other sons.  

One of the reasons why XSProject exists is because Pak Salim always regretted that he and his children never had an education. He wanted future generations of children to have an education so they would not grow up to follow their parents to the trash business. This was a promise XSProject made to Pak Salim before he died in 2010.

Today, Endi 37, is married to Munah, 26 and has three children. Fiki 7 and the oldest, attends the XSProject pre-school and will enter First Grade in July. Sila 5, will start pre-school soon and Rafhah the baby.

Endi is a trash picker. He remains at Cirendeu, working with his brothers, selling recyclable materials to take care of his own family. But his children will never have to live that life. They will get a complete K-12 education through XSProject.

When Ibu Salim’s house was destroyed by the floods in 2014, Endi, Sapei, Sundari and the neighbors built a bigger and better house for his “mother”. While the family is strong and very close, Endi longs to one day find his birth mother, Luisawati. Since he was a young boy, he has saved every phone number and address of people who might know how to find her. He has not had luck yet, but does not give up hope, either.

As XSProject works in the trash picker community, we realize that every individual and every family has a story to tell; where they came from and how they got to Cirendeu.  Breaking the generational cycle of trash picking and helping these families have a better quality of life is preparing them for a future when they will no longer have to live this way. At XSProject, though, we know the community and family bonds are strong and these can never be broken.

The Family: Endi is on the left
The Family: Endi is on the left
Endi's Family
Another day at work
Another day at work
I Am Jupri
I Am Jupri

People call me Jupri. My real name is Juju Juheri and I am 32 years old. I work at XSProject in Jakarta, Indonesia. I only have a middle school education. When my mother died, I had to quit school to make money for the family.

I started by directing cars where to park at a shopping center. I made money from tips doing that. I really love music so then I began playing guitar and singing on Jakarta’s streets.  After that I became a construction worker, building houses in Jakarta.  But things got bad and I had to find other work again.

One of my friends worked at XSProject as a sewer, making products from plastic trash. XSProject sells the products and with the money, helps the trash pickers. In 2005 I went there and Ibu (Mrs) Uni said I could have a job washing the trash. I made very little money but I liked the idea of helping the trash picker community in my small way.

I was a trash washer for two years. Then Ibu Uni said if I could also be a courier for XSProject, I could make more money. So I did.

Every day when my work was finished, I watched the sewers making the products. I watched  for one whole year. One day, while the sewers were taking a break, I sat at one of the machines and taught myself how to make a plastic tote bag.

After the sewers were finished each day, I would sew some bags and earn extra money for each bag I made. After one year I stopped being a washer and became a full time sewer. This was good for me because the sewers got to live at the XSProject workshop for free. We only went home once a month. I was a sewer for six years.

In 2010 I married Erlina. Today we have a 4 year old daughter. But for now they live too far away for me to be with them, so I send money home instead.

There never was enough money and I was always looking for a way to make more. I watched other people working at XSProject using computers. I wanted to learn because I knew it was a way to a better life. So I watched…and soon I learned… I taught myself how to use Excel. It took a long time but I was patient. In 2014, Ibu Retno, XSProject’s General Manager asked me to be in charge of procurement, manage the raw materials and also the products the sewers made. I did not know how to do this, but I learned.

I like working for XSProject and seeing how we help the trash pickers and send their children to school. I feel good about my work but I miss my family a lot. When my daughter is old enough, XSProject will pay for her to go to school for 12 years. She will have a better life than me.

Some day I would like to have my own company that helps the poor, like XSProject does. I also dream of a balanced life. Right now I have to sacrifice for my future. I want to find a way to balance my family, work and my music. By the time I am 40, I want to have my life in balance and my family with me.

So that is about me. About Jupri. Thank you.

Thank you for supporting XSProject, our employees and the tash picker community. Your donations improve the quality of all their lives and give them hope for the future.

Where Jupri Became a Sewer
Where Jupri Became a Sewer
Following in Jupri
Following in Jupri's Footsteps - a New Sewer
XSProject Jakarta Employees
XSProject Jakarta Employees

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Organization Information


Location: Cilandak Barat, Jakarta - Indonesia
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Karen McDaniels
Denton, Texas United States
$60,905 raised of $95,000 goal
656 donations
$34,095 to go
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