トップ  >  Publication  >  Newsletter  >  No.104 Grassroots Approaches To Sustainable Development

Grassroots Approaches To Sustainable Development  (Jan. 2019)

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Focus: The Orang Rimba Are Left Out


Mr. Kristiawan John, ILDC 2016,
Komunitas Konservasi Indonesia (KKI) WARSI, Indonesia

 

 

 

1. Background

The Orang Rimba (the people of the jungle) is one of the indigenous tribal groups living in Jambi Province, southeast Sumatra, Indonesia. Living in a nomadic way is one characteristic of their great ancestors. Orang Rimba attached their life with forest products such as jernang (dragon blood), rattan, wild honey, and others. 

 

Since the construction of Sumatera Highway in the ‘80s, followed by plantation development, a lush and dense Sumatera Forest as living place of the Orang Rimba has rapidly converted into plantation and transmigration area. Animals are hardly ever found while forest products greatly lost. the Orang Rimba faced the drastic environmental change while they had nothing to do with it at al. In the forest of National Park, some are still living in nomadic way and hunting animals, otherwise, became beggars just to survive.

 

Their traditional lifestyle which is no longer relevant to their current condition often raises conflicts with the local communities. The Orang Rimba has taken unpleasant treatment from the locals such as being insulted, deemed as thieves and even killed by locales. Such community stereotype “label” and discrimination had broadened a social gap between them and Orang Rimba. 

 

This condition has kept the Orang Rimba far from the development today. There are only 25% Orang Rimba living in Sumatera highway accessing the basic health services from the government. They are so vulnerable to various diseases. Unstable supply of nutritious food also affects them as demonstrated by high morbidity and mortality rates. According to a survey conducted by WARSI in 2015, there are only 15% children of the Orang Rimba in their school age being sent to formal schools. Meanwhile, the rest has no chance for education because of formal administration system required in school such as family card and birth certificate, and the nomadic system of their parents. Thus, children – as young generations of indigenous people – get less protection on their future. Lack of knowledge makes them easily vulnerable and influenced by foreign cultures which tend to harm their future, such as sniffing petroleum, gambling, smoking and early marriage.

 

Since 1997, WARSI intensively facilitates the advocacy of Orang Rimba tribe’s living space and livelihood. WARSI realized that the multi-stakeholders’ support is necessary for the Orang Rimba. Particu
larly Particularly to be settled and adapt with any social changes happening to them, the government and the community should help the Orang Rimba get access to both education and health services appropriate to their current condition.

 

2. The WARSI Initiative

 

WARSI initiated education and health project for the Orang Rimba children to reach the optimal growth and development on their ages and stages. The objectives are 1) to raise awareness of the Orang Rimba on the importance of education and health for them, 2) to lobby the government in formulating policies to accommodate the services to Orang Rimba, and 3) to build a harmonious relationship between the Orang Rimba and surrounding locals. WARSI involved multi-stakeholders to run this project, such as health clinic officers, *nonpermanent teachers at schools, cadres (of some potential people from their own group members), university students, community facilitators and some NGOs which are working on empowerment of the Indigenous People, particularly the Orang Rimba Tribe. 

*The teachers for the Orang Rimba are non-permanent due to various obstacles such as the low attendance of children, and the class location is far.

 

• Quality Education.


WARSI trained 17 non-permanent teachers provided by the local government and five education cadres (all males of their own group members) to increase their knowledge related to their field so that they could maximize their roles in their target communities. These were done through 1) series of workshops involving the group members to realize and spot their needs, 2) field study, and 3) development of learning method and preparation of material in line with their needs in collaboration with the Institute for Educational Quality Assurance of Jambi Province and University of Jambi. In order to draw their cooperation, we created a community forum through social media. In social media forums, we convey developments and activities carried out by each teacher.

 

All teachers and cadres participating in the activities have gained enough knowledge on the materials and learning methods based on the Orang Rimba’s needs. As a result, 215 school-age-children got access to education services by the non-permanent teachers and cadres. There were 160 Orang Rimba children, facilitated by the teachers in each target location. They successfully sent 112 children to formal elementary school, 7 children to formal junior high school, and 5 children to vocational school in Merangin, Sarolangun and Bungo Districts. The cadres have facilitated at least 55 children to learn basic literacy skill like reading and counting. They become confident because they were appreciated on their contribution to empower the Orang Rimba children.

 

Furthermore, WARSI provided opportunities for the Orang Rimba children to show their talents in front of their parents, and various stakeholders such as the education and health offices at the district and province levels, Indonesian police and army, university students, missionaries, community facilitators and NGOs. Forty four children (28 males and 16 females) expressed their talent to sing, paint and speech. The government and multi-parties found these children’s enthusiasm in education and potential ability to compete with regular children. The parents really hoped to send their children to formal school.

 

• Health.

 

WARSI facilitated communication and local health clinic and invited several health officers to access mobile clinic in the target location of the Orang Rimba. There have been five local health clinics that commit to provide the Pusling (mobile public health center) at least three times in a year. They have officially put their commitment into Puskesmas program of 2018. Meanwhile, there are at least 97 households (321 people) already accessing the health services from those health clinics periodically.

 

Moreover, the WARSI staff are involved in the academics such as the Medical Faculty of Jambi University, voluntary doctors and Eijkman Institute to maximize the health services, and malady study in the Orang Rimba. Collaboration efforts are aimed at studying potential malaria and hepatitis, affecting the Orang Rimba members in Sumatera Highway. The findings revealed that out of 68 people investigated, 9 have malaria, and 24 have hepatitis B. The findings have been conveyed and referred to the local health clinic for further action and consideration. This collaborative study contributed to the improved awareness of the Orang Rimba community on the importance of their health. 

Originally, Orang Rimba believed that their sickness is coming from the god’s curse. On the other hand, the feeling of being welcomed by the health officers has increased the awareness of the Orang Rimba to access to health clinic in case that their traditional herbs and treatment can no longer heal them. Actually, the Orang Rimba who live in oil palm plantations, industrial plantations and residential areas have difficulty finding traditional plants or herbs.

 

The project organization has documented various traditional herbs the Orang Rimba possessed nowadays. They still keep and practice their traditional

treatment. There are 40 types of existing traditional herbs from different fungi as documented in the study made by the parties. Thus, the project organization built a demonstration plot of those traditional herbs near the locales to help preserve and keep their knowledge on their culture. 

 

• Peace building among children.

 

A peace building training was held. This was aimed at improving communication and relationship between the Orang Rimba and local children from the village. The participants were junior high school students, 9 Orang Rimba children, and 10 village children. Given information on the customs and rules of the Orang Rimba, they learned various conflicts happening between them. They wrote short essays or compositions based on the theme “tolerance”. There were 10 best compositions presented in the training. Both participants actively participated in the activities during the training. They are divided into some groups in charge of preparing the place to stay overnight, preparing food for the training.

 

 

3. Processes Undertaken

For the Orang Rimba to get access to various programs from the government, they are required to complete the necessary administration procedure such as application of family cards, identification card, and the certificate of birth. The WARSI staff, community facilitators, and non-permanent teachers worked with the family cards administration in Merangin District. They helped to give at least 99 family cards to the Orang Rimba in the district. In addition, WARSI and the teachers have advocated to the education office to issue the student’s number (Nomor Induk Siswa or NIS) for 136 children (67 males and 69 females).

 

This number is one of the requirements to receive the scholarship and operational aid for all students and non-permanent teachers. The government appointed non-permanent teachers are also given aid because they receive only half of the provincial minimum wage.

 

In addition, the project organization has successfully facilitated 11 Orang Rimba in Sumatera Highway to access the treatment and services in the district – hospital where three of them were transferred to Rumah Sakit Umum (General Hospital) in Jambi Province. Furthermore, three people whose skill in citizen journalist is good enough in terms of education field have been available. They are part of cadres of their own group members. Those journalists delivered their activities to multi-parties while providing health services to their friends and families. They have gained confidence in public.

 

4. Lessons Learned

Achievement must be sustained. To continue empowering the Orang Rimba, it needs more participation of multi-parties. Still, there are few opportunities for the Orang Rimba to access development programs from the government. They are more focusing on their survival, not their basic rights. Meanwhile, the various development policies from the government cannot accommodate current circumstance of the Orang Rimba yet. In order for the Orang Rimba to claim their rights, the strong linkage between the Orang Rimba and the local community is necessary.  Empowered cadres are confident in coordinating the programs. Local health clinic is even more active to visit the Orang Rimba to provide their services, because of the cadres, WARSI facilitators and teachers cooperated to prepare the community. These cadres are more responsible to voice out the needs and rights of the Orang Rimba. Hopefully, these leaders could change the local policy into an opportunity for them to access to many other developments.  

 

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