Editor's Note: This article first appeared on NUS Giving. Reprinted with permission. Ms Belinda Tanoto strongly believes in spending a lot of time with stakeholders on the ground to discover...
My name is Steven Nilam, and I come from Medan in the province of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Even though I’ve lived in Singapore for 8 years, I’ve never forgotten my roots and in fact through my voluntary work throughout my studies in Singapore, I’ve started to grow my passion for giving back to the community.
I recall being inspired by the children who seemed contented and cheerful despite the realities that confronted them when I was working with Children Cancer Foundation as part of the collaboration with The NUSChoir, where I sing bass. It was this encounter that motivated me to give back to the community which brought me to Misi Kami Peduli 2016.
Misi Kami Peduli (MKP), which translates to Mission: We Care, is a social initiative by Indonesian students (PINUS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). PINUS (Perhimpunan Indonesia NUS) is a community of Indonesian NUS students that comprises more than 400 undergraduate members and thousands of alumni members.
Motivated by social awareness as well as the desire to contribute back to Indonesia, MKP in 2015 visited Lontung village, Samosir, North Sumatra and conducted educational programmes with the aim to motivate local students to care more for their education and to have dreams for their future. MKP 2015 also successfully planted two solar panels on-board kapal belajar a ship owned by Alusi Tao Toba and used for facilitating educational activities and introducing the concept of reading books as well as library in villages that are only accessible by boat.
This year, MKP 2016 has selected Desa Tambakrejo, Dusun Sendang Biru, East Java as the village to work with. With the help of local organisations, the village is currently striving to develop their ecotourism industry and rejuvenate their forest, which has been tampered by excessive exploitation. MKP 2016 hopes to strengthen the management of ecotourism as well as to better prepare the local community to accept the idea of ecotourism as an alternative source of livelihood.
With the aim to help in the holistic development of the village, MKP 2016 has set up three divisions catering to different sectors of the community: education, community empowerment, and technology. We hope to bring about meaningful impact on the people in Desa Tambakrejo.
As part of the education team, I am truly excited to educate the children on three important values: the need to conserve the environment, the significance of education for the future and the importance of kinship. This would be demonstrated through planting mangroves and arts exhibition that displays the children’s arts and crafts that would be dedicated to their parents and the people they love and many other activities.
We are especially grateful and honoured that the Tanoto Foundation, founded by Indonesian entrepreneur and philanthropist Mr Sukanto Tanoto, has agreed to support us in this project. As we embark on our journey this December, the Tanoto Foundation’s support would enable us to help the village develop an ecotourism industry, and possibly increasing employment opportunities for the local people in the future. We also hope to help in road construction, and to assist a local primary school in obtaining sufficient sport equipment to conduct a variety of sport lessons for their children, amongst many other things.
We will depart for Desa Tambakrejo the first week of December. Stay tuned for my post-trip report!
Editor’s Note: Steven Nilam is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial & Systems Engineering at the National University of Singapore.