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Emmanuel Foundation: Jakarta, West Java

The unfortunate side to the demise of Soeharto is that abject poverty and slum areas have increased immensely and the gap between the rich and the poor, worsened. Even more intolerable is the apathy of the Indonesian government and those in private organisations making any headway to solve this crisis. It is all left to NGO’s who, incidentally, are sadly lacking in financial support. Poor sanitation is one product of this crisis. So what has actually gone wrong in the new democracy of Indonesia?. There are a thousand arguments and discussions that could be brought forward, but, until poverty and poor sanitation is eradicated in Indonesia [or near enough to] then feet will be dragged on and on infinitum.

Thankfully for a lot of Indonesians suffering from poverty, poor sanitation and disease there are numerous organisations there to bridge the gap between hunger and pain. One such organisation is the Emmanuel Foundation. Here is an interesting article by Kurniawan Hari on the Emmanuel Foundation:

The air stunk in the densely populated area of Kalibaru in Cilin-cing, North Jakarta, where the houses are separated by an alley of only half a meter. Three goats roamed the neighborhood, scavenging for whatever scraps they could find for breakfast.

Meanwhile, four women sat behind a house that is used as a meeting hall for the community. In front of the women was a pile of mussels, which they shelled before selling the mollusks to a nearby market.

While the flesh of the mussels are sold at market, the women simply discard the shells around their houses. This creates the stink in the air – and attracts hundreds of flies.

The goats, the terrible odor and the many flies make a perfect picture of a slum in northern Jakarta. Seeing the condition in such a slum, the first question to arise is: Are the residents concerned about sanitation?

“That was also our question. That is why we decided to enter the community after weeks of observation,” said Mita Sirait, a public health officer with the Emmanuel Foundation.

From a series of observations, Mita and her team found that the people of Kalibaru did not give much attention to health, sanitation or hygiene. For example, Kalibaru residents still use the makeshift public toilets they have built along the local coastline to urinate or to defecate. The waste from these facilities goes directly into the sea, where their children play and swim. This practice means that local residents constantly have diarrhea, because they do not wash their bodies or hands regularly after such activities.

Access to clean water is another question.try to tell people that there is a cheap method to getting drinking water. In addition, we also try to promote how to improve sanitation,” Mita added.

These health and hygiene activities in Cilincing are part of the Emmanuel Foundation’s Water Program. Under this program, the foundation works to improve water and sanitation standards for the impoverished people in Cilincing, as well as those in Bintaro Baru, Bintaro Lama, Pulo Kandang, Tanjung Priok and Telok Gong.

“This program focuses on aiding these communities through increased access to clean water by promoting public health and hygienic behavior, and constructing water tanks,” said Vikki Uhlmann, the foundation’s Water Program manager.

Emmanuel runs four activities under this program: the Public Health Promotion, a 16-week education program targeting children on integrating hygiene and environmental sanitation activities into constructive applications; the Clean Water Program, which introduces a range of low-cost water treatment plans; the Improve Sanitation Program, a solid waste recycling program that includes making marketable products and composting organic waste; and the Flood Emergency Management, which provides training for facing floods and hygiene kits for families.

Mita, who is in charge of the Public Health Promotion, said that her team provided training on how to prepare drinking water through chlorination, solar disinfection and ceramic filtering processes.

“At a cost of only Rp 5,000 (US 52 cents) for the chlorination agent (known as Air Rahmat, or PuR), people can have drinking water for one month,” said Mita.train the people how to mix Air Rahmat with water to get drinking water without boiling it.”
She said the program also includes building a water tank, which will store rainwater for public use.

“This is about changing people’s mindset. Even today, people still doubt the hygienic properties of drinking water that is made without first boiling it,” she said.

Given this condition, Mita said that it would take time before she could empower the slum residents with public health knowledge. This is why she could not give a direct answer when asked when her task in Cilincing would be complete.

“I am not sure. Perhaps we could leave them after four years. At this time, we’re trying to help them be independent and to change their behavior,” she said. The Emmanuel Foundation does not work only on water sanitation and other health and hygiene programs for slum areas. Established in December 2001, the foundation runs several programs, including an orphanage and an orphanage for infants, as well as education, health and food aid programs.

While the water and sanitation programs are run in Jakarta, the orphanage and education programs are based in Bogor, West Java. These Bogor programs provide a nurturing home for 33 abandoned children and educational support and care for an additional 1,478 orphans.

The Emmanuel Foundation will hold a World Water Day event on March 30, which is open to the public and features the Cilincing children’s circus show. For more information, contact Vikki at the Emmanuel Foundation, (021) 7659567.