In the early morning hours of October 6, the trash picker community living at the Lebak Bulus open garbage dump in Jakarta burned to the ground. More than 225 families, a total of about 700 men, women and children lost everything and escaped with just the clothes they were wearing.
Lebak Bulus is near the Cirendeu open garbage dump where XSProject runs its social and educational programs. Two families from Lebak Bulus have family members working at XSProject. Three other families have children attending XSProject’s XSEducation program.
When the XSProject office opened later that morning, they learned about the fire. General Manager, Retno Hapsari and employees, Any and Saminah went to Lebak Bulus to locate the two employees and families of the three children. Any and Saminah located both XSProject employees; Nur and her family and Ewon and his family and they soon arranged temporary housing for both until XSProject could find a more permanent place for them.
The three families with children in the XSEducation program were Retno’s biggest concern. She picks up the story: “Wati and I looked for the parents of Febriansyah, grade 7, Silvi, grade 5 and Rahmat, grade 4 and finally located them in the chaos.
“First thing I told them was to find a place to stay for tonight. Febri's father specifically asked for my help in making sure that Febri can go back to school as soon as possible.
“Tonight all the 5 families are taken care of temporarily - in a much better condition than the rest of more than 225 families that lost their houses and belongings. Febri, Silvi and Rahmat's families are staying at the Cirendeu community
“Tomorrow, with the help of relatives and friends at the Cirendeu community, I will work with them to see what we can do to make sure they get their normal lives back and the three students can go back to school as soon as possible.”
As of this writing, Ewon, Nur and their families have found permanent housing close to the XSProject office. XSProject is helping them purchase household items and food. The Jakarta International School has donated clothing that Ewon and Nur selected for themselves and their families.
With the help of the Jakarta Public School System and private donations, Febri, Silvie and Rahmat received all new school uniforms. XSProject used GlobalGiving donations to provide books, school supplies, backpacks and shoes. They all went back to school Monday, October 12.
All three families that were temporarily staying at the Cirendeu community have decided to stay. The Cirendeu community leaders and XSProject are now building three new homes for them. When completed, XSProject will furnish beds, propane stoves, rugs and other household items.
For the +225 other families, finding support is difficult. Some are staying at the burn site because they have no other place to go. Others have returned to their family homes outside of Jakarta. There is still much work to do and many people to feed.
XSProject must arrange to get new legal documents like birth and marriage certificates for our five families. They also need new identity/work cards. Yet, they are the fortunate ones.
If you would like to be a part of helping rebuild the lives of these families, you can make a donation today. We will continue to update and provide photos of the progress of the families in their new homes. Thank you.
Independence Day in Indonesia is celebrated on August 17. This year, for the first time, the Cirendeu trash picker community held their very own Independence Day festivities.
For just one day, the trash pickers don't go out on the streets of Jakarta picking through garbage cans and dumpsters. This is their day to have fun, play games, and be with family and community.
From early morning until late afternoon, regardless of age, everyone has a chance to participate. There were sack races for both big and little kids and even for the adults. Carrying the marble on a spoon race was very popular and so was the tug of war. What everybody was waiting for, though, was the daring 'panjat pinang' challenge for the dads.
The trash pickers who compete in panjat pinang try to climb the pole, which is covered with oil to make it slippery. The goal is to be the first to reach the top of the pole, grab the best prize and slide down. Their wives and children cheer them on. Every man gets a chance to show his family how strong and skillful he is.
After all the games were finished, all the food was eaten and everyone was “happy tired”, it was agreed this was the best Independence Day celebration ever... until next year.
Saminah is the wife of a trash picker. She is very shy, this 42 year old woman, but when you are around her, you realize that she is only poor in the eyes of others. Saminah is rich in so many other ways.
She went to school until the 6th grade then worked in a garment factory in West Java. When she was 20, she married Kayan, a trash picker and they moved to Jakarta where Kayan continued to pick trash. They have two children, Oki and Fifi.
In 2010, Saminah came to work for XSProject. She started as a washer, cleaning the plastic waste pouches that XSProject uses to make products. She was paid 2 cents for every two pounds of trash she washed. It was not much, but it was extra income for the family and through donations to GlobalGiving, XSProject was able to pay for Oki’s and Fifi’s education.
Today Saminah has a position of responsibility at XSProject. She makes a lot more money than when she started. She loves her job and we love her sweet and generous nature.
Last year, Oki graduated from vocational school and now has a job at the City of Jakarta. He is saving money to buy the family a small home away from the garbage dump where they still live.
Fifi will begin training in the Hotel and Hospitality business in July.
Kayan is now a trash collector for the City of Jakarta.
If you have ever wondered whether your donations to GlobalGiving actually changed a life, we hope Saminah’s story will inspire you. Life is still hard, but to Saminah, she is rich in many other ways.
On April 21, Indonesian women will celebrate Hari Kartini. This day commemorates the birthday of Raden Ajeng Kartini (1879-1904), Indonesia’s first feminist who elevated the status of women and is today a symbol of women’s rights in Indonesia.
In Indonesia, women’s rights can be learned through education and earned through actions. For women living in poverty, it can be difficult but not impossible. This is the story of Supena, who lives at the Cirendeu open garbage dump in Jakarta who is earning her rights by her actions.
The third child of a trash picker couple, she was born and has lived her entire life at a Jakarta open garbage dump. She left school after the Third Grade and was married by age 17. In 2004, the owner of the garbage dump, where her family lived, was cleared to build an apartment building and all the families moved to the Cirendeu open dump, where XSProject provides services and educational opportunities.
Soon after their move to Cirendeu, Supena’s husband was sent to prison and she was left to raise her five children, with only the help of her sister, Wati. Today, three of her children attend school through the XSEducation Scholarship program. Her youngest will start pre-school at the XSVillage School this July.
As Hari Kartini approaches, Supena has many reasons to celebrate. Her husband, released from prison four years ago, has found good employment as a trash picker at a Jakarta municipal complex. Even though his salary is not enough to house, feed and clothe the family, they are all once again together. Along with her sisters, Supena sorts and washes trash that she sells to XSProject to make extra money. At XSProject, she is enrolled in the XSVocational Training Program, learning to make jewelry and accessories that XSProject helps her sell. With her sister, Wati, she also earns extra income helping with day to day chores at XSProject while her children are in school.
Supena is finding her self-confidence and dignity. Her path is long, but straight and she knows what she wants for herself and especially for her daughters. She has a bright smile and is a shining example of achievement to her family and her community.
P.S. If you want to know more about Raden Ajeng Kartini, her book ,Letters of a Javanese Princess is available at Amazon.com.
Someone once said “One woman can change anything. Many women can change everything”.
Given the opportunity to learn basic business and vocational skills a woman’s newly acquired earning power reshapes her family and community. From this platform of empowerment, women learn to manage their health, build support networks and serve as examples for other women.
It is from this principle that XSProject launched our first program to offer business and vocational training to six young women and mothers from Jakarta’s trash picker community. By being able to generate income from their skills, they will no longer need to join their husbands as scavengers and trash pickers. The goal is to create sustainable change for them, their children and their community.
The group will be meeting on Thursdays for three months of training. Instructors,Yanti and Asep are teaching them to make jewelry and decorative hair ornaments. They also learn basic business skills such as managing raw materials costs, determining reasonable labor costs, and how to establish the selling price of the products they make. After this training is completed, XSProject will assist these new entrepreneurs by helping them sell their products.
XSProject plans to start a second group who will learn different vocational skills but who can collaborate with the first group, invest in business together, and help each other grow and learn.
March 8 is International Women’s Day. XSProject invites you to make a contribution to XSProject to honor these women and to aid in helping them launch their very first business.
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