Jakarta. Pulp and paper producer APRIL Group found its home in Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau Province, in 1993.
Since then, its operations have transformed Pangkalan Kerinci into a vibrant urban area. It has since built a city within a city to support its integrated pulp and paper business, complete with housing, schools, medical facilities, and other amenities for APRIL employees and their families. Pangkalan Kerinci, which only had 200 people when APRIL first arrived, has grown into a thriving town of more than 100,000 people. At least 10,000 of them are APRIL Group employees and their families. That's how they start to call their home Paper Town.
Every person in APRIL has a story to tell about the tight-knit community they are a part of and their roles in APRIL's sustainability endeavor.
Meet Susan Slabbert, APRIL's Sustainability, and Environmental Specialist, who helps it achieve APRIL2030 sustainability commitments, specifically related to its net-zero emission from land use.
It was in 2019 when Slabbert moved from South Africa to Riau. Despite being thousands of kilometers away from South Africa, Slabbert said she took the right decision to move here. Slabbert has embraced life in Pangkalan Kerinci Townsite by making new friends every day and learning the local language.
"Making friends here is so much fun because of the culturally diverse mixture of people who have taught me. This place has a knack for bringing people together. There is a real sense of community," Slabbert said while encouraging fellow expatriates to embrace the genial atmosphere felt throughout the Townsite.
"Although I am far away from South Africa, I can honestly say I have made a home away from home," Slabbert said.
The unique sense of community in Pangkalan Kerinci is also impressed APRIL's Planning Specialist Amit Halder.
Like Slabbert, Halder is also thousands of miles away from his home country India. He came to Riau with his wife, who would soon work at the Kerinci Tissue Culture facility. As a planning specialist, Halder is responsible for advanced remote sensing and satellite analytics of APRIL's plantations while monitoring and managing the forest.
"To say that this is my dream job would be an understatement. Because honestly, I can't imagine doing anything else," Halder said.
"We have been here for five years. The sense of community was the first thing we noticed when we arrived," he added.
Achieving sustainability takes teamwork. And, of course, that would mean the need to take care of one another.
Besides Slabbert and Halder, APRIL also has Elwan Jumandri, HR Services Manager, who has been working at APRIL for 26 years.
His responsibility, among others, is to assist expatriates working in the company with their needs. Recently, Jumandri was also tasked to oversee the company-wide COVID-19 vaccination program for thousands of employees and communities.
APRIL has its doors open for anyone with credibility and skills, even if they are an employee's family member. And not many companies do this in Indonesia.
"My daughter Maizela works here in procurement. My son Abiyu is also currently interning here before returning to Brawijaya University, Malang," Elwan said.
"It is safe to say I can look back on my career with pride and fondness. This is one of the best decisions I have ever made."