(Photo courtesy of Ina Madjidhan)

Share Movement Catches On

APRIL 16, 2015

(Photo courtesy of Ina Madjidhan)

Rogaria village in the district of Ende, in East Nusa Tenggara province, may seem like another world for those of us in Jakarta.

The small village is a six-hour drive from the Ende city center. The roads to the village are steep and made of jagged stones and dirt.

“Avalanches often happen in this area,” said Ina Madjidhan, founder of Gerakan Berbagi (Sharing Movement).

“When it happens, we’d be stuck on the road for hours, waiting for the locals to come and help us clear the road.”

About 254,000 people live in the village and yet, the village is quite untouched by modern infrastructure and technology.

“Each home in the village enjoys three hours of electricity at night,” said Ina.

Internet connection, which most of us cannot live without these days, is unheard of in Rogaria.

Clean water, as in every part of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), is scarce.

The area has a high number of malaria incidences, especially among young children.

“When we visited an elementary school in the village last year and asked who among them has got malaria, everyone in the class raised their hands,” Ina said.

NTT is among the top five provinces in Indonesia with the highest number of malaria incidences.

Touched by this, Ina and her friends — volunteers with Gerakan Berbagi — decided to help. 

By engaging local communities and organizations, they conducted workshops for the teachers and parents in the area to teach them simple steps to wipe out anopheles, the mosquitoes responsible for spreading malaria.

Together they launched Laskar Jentik (Army against Mosquito Larvae), an initiative in which children are armed with flashlights and powerded larvicide to “hunt” the insects.

The kids work in groups to locate mosquito larvae in water storage tubs at their schools and homes and sprinkle the larvicide on them.

This has proved to be effective in the area.

“From the total 25 elementary schools in that region, 10 of them are now free from malaria,” she said.

Gerakan Berbagi will review its projects in Ende this May, before rolling-out similar activities throughout the province.

Gerakan Berbagi plans to continue the movement until all the province is free from malaria.

Gerakan Berbagi also teaches the women of Ende to create tenun ikat (the region’s traditional batik style) into sajadah (Islamic prayer mats).

“The prayer mats are one-of-a-kind,” said Ina. 

“They’re all handwoven by the women of Ende with unique motifs which have passed through the village tradition for centuries.”

Gerakan Berbagi buys the sajadah from these traditional weavers and re-sells them in Jakarta.

The sajadahs sell for between Rp 350,000 ($27) and Rp 500,000 per piece.

“From the profits, we finance our activities in NTT,” said Ina.

(Photo courtesy of Ina Madjidhan)

Where it all began

Gerakan Berbagi started from Ina’s evening prayer in early 2010.

“It was a Wednesday,” said Ina. 

“I remember after finishing my Sholat Maghrib [evening prayer], I was wondering if my tomorrow would be exactly the same as today.”

There was nothing missing in Ina’s life that day. In fact, the single mom felt that she had a bountiful life.

“I have a great family and career,” she said. 

“My daughter can go to a good school and buy any books that she likes. We never lack anything good in our lives.”

Ina is an internationally certified Pilates instructor and gives in-home instruction to private clients.

Many would covet Ina’s seemingly peaceful life. In the morning, she drops her only child to school, and then visits her clients’ homes for their Pilates lessons. In the evening, she picks up her daughter at school and they usually have a quiet dinner together.

And yet, Ina felt something was amiss in her life.

“I was not yet 40 years old at that time,” she said. 

“And I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing the same thing over and over again.”

“I pray to Allah to allow me to do something good, not only for those that know me, but also for complete strangers,” she said. 

“And Allah opened up a way for me.”

On that Wednesday evening, Ina read a verse from the Koran.

“It says that in every grain of rice that we share with others contains one prayer for us,” said Ina. 

“I thought it would be so easy. Everybody can do it.”

Ina planned to distribute nasi bungkus (rice packets) among trash pickers in the Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta area. 

It was when she asked if friends would like to be involved her campaign really kicked off.

“Up until the Thursday night, more and more friends chipped in,” she said. 

“And on Friday morning, we bought and distributed over 500 nasi bungkus to the people in Kebayoran Lama.”

The campaign, which has become known as “Jumat Berbagi” (“Friday Sharing”), has now becomes a staple of the Gerakan Berbagi movement.

Every Friday, Ina and volunteers of Gerakan Berbagi visit a less-fortunate community in Jakarta to distribute nasi bungkus to those in need.

“Sometimes, we also visit hospitals and tell stories to ailing children teach them how to make handicrafts to cheer them up,” she said.

There are now about 30 active volunteers in Gerakan Berbagi.

“The number of volunteers fluctuates according to the seasons,” said Ina, with a laugh.

“Usually, many people want to join us during the fasting month,” she said. 

“But the number falls in the other months.”

According to Ina, giving and sharing should not be reserved to special occasions only. 

The founder of Gerakan Berbagi believes sharing should be a part of our daily lives.

“Sharing is enjoyable,” she said. “It should be part of our lifestyle.”

It doesn’t cost anything to make a change in the life of others, she said.

“If you don’t have money, you can tell stories to the children in the hospital or teach them how make handicrafts,” said Ina.

“Or you can just listen to them,” she added. 

“If you come with us [to the hospital], you’d be surprised at how many of [the children] stay in the hospital by themselves.

“ Both their parents usually have to go to work. And these children feel so lonely and miserable by themselves in the hospital. They’d be very glad for volunteers to go and visit them.” 

Once every three months, Gerakan Berbagi also organizes blood donation drives in Jakarta.

Despite the hectic modern lifestyle in Jakarta, Ina believes that everybody has the time to do good — if they really want to.

“Time is how you manage it,” she said. “Everybody is given the same 24 hours. It’s up to you how to make use of the hours.”

“There are so many things we can all do to help,” said Ina.

“Make your own choice and commit yourself to it. You’ll help to make a difference in the world.”

Ina is one of eight Indonesian women chosen to participate in the “Wanita Inspiratif” (“Inspirational Women”) campaign launched by GrabTaxi, the app to order taxis.

A donation of Rp 2,500 will be made by GrabTaxi to Gerakan Berbagi each time the promo code INABERBAGI is entered in to the app.

“I think the campaign is very positive,” said Ina. “It encourages people to make sharing and caring a part of their daily lives, just like taking a taxi.”

The upcoming activities of Gerakan Berbagi are announced through Ina’s Twitter account, @inawiro.