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Volunteers demonstrate compassion of Ramadan in Indonesia: A UN Resident Coordinator blog |


As Indonesia celebrates Ramadan, Ms. Julliand and Toily Kurbanov, Executive Coordinators, United Nations Volunteers explains * why volunteering encapsulates chivalry and compassion during the Muslim holy month.


Valerie Julliand, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Indonesia.

Valerie Julliand, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Indonesia., UN Indonesia

“When a 7.5 magnitude earthquake tore through Palu, Central Sulawesi, in September 2018, two memories surfaced for Moh. Tofan Saputra. He recalls watching footage of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on television, which killed nearly 230,000 people. He also recalls that as a junior high student, floodwaters flooded his family’s house, cutting off his parents’ business and bringing his studies to a halt.

Those memories prompted Tofan, then 24, to travel from Luwuk about a 12-hour drive away, to assist the people of Palu after the earthquake. “We are panicking for our loved ones. We couldn’t contact them because there was no phone and electricity connection,” Tofan said of the immediate aftermath of the disaster that killed more than 4,300 people.

Through a local organization, he has been involved in emergency food distribution efforts, helping to reunite stray children separated from their families, and arranging psychological support services for those in need. shocked person. In an environment where looting has contributed to an atmosphere of distrust, Tofan’s understanding of local community dynamics proved crucial, “a community approach is crucial.” and the role of volunteers is to promote social inclusion among victims,” he said.


Indonesian midwife Restu Nur Intan Pratiwi, 25, cares for a survivor at an evacuation center following the eruption of Mount Semeru in East Java, Indonesia in December 2021.

Courtesy of Restu Nur Intan Prat

Indonesian midwife Restu Nur Intan Pratiwi, 25, cares for a survivor at an evacuation center following the eruption of Mount Semeru in East Java, Indonesia in December 2021.

Spirit of gotong royong

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, millions of volunteers like Tofan embody the values ​​of kindness and compassion during the holy month of Ramadan. In a 2018 Featured Poll, about 53% of Indonesians said they had volunteered time for an organization in the last month. So respectable is Indonesia’s tradition of community self-reliance, which has its own nomenclature: gotong royong, which means mutual aid.

Indonesia’s philanthropic spirit resonates in many other countries. Flagship of United Nations Volunteers (UNV) 2022 World Volunteer Report, draws on case studies on multiple continents to explore how collaboration between volunteers and governments can contribute to building more equitable, inclusive societies. The report estimates that 862 million people volunteer globally each month, or one in seven. Their contribution is integral to the new UN social contract Secretary General António Guterres says the world must build as it navigates the twin crises of COVID-19 and climate emergency.


Toily Kurbanov, Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteer.

Toily Kurbanov, Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers., Of United Nations Volunteers

Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. According to Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency, in 2021, about 3,034 disasters will affect 8.3 million people here. Disasters, including COVID-19, have reset 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and exacerbate pre-existing inequalities.

The UN supports all aspects of the Government of Indonesia’s disaster response efforts. In 2021, that support includes the creation of an oxygen task force to coordinate the response to Indonesia’s 2021 oxygen scarcity-related issues. increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths These are often volunteers at the forefront of disaster response.

After Mount Semeru erupted on December 4, 2021 killing more than 50 people and displaced 10,000 others in Lumajang Regency, East Java, 25 Restu Nur Intan Pratiwi midwives were among the hundreds of residents. local to assist the regent. She drove 90 minutes from her home in Jember after searching online for volunteer opportunities in the area.


Twi Adi coordinates relief supplies following the eruption of Mount Semeru in East Java, Indonesia in December 2021.

Courtesy of Twi Adi

Twi Adi coordinates relief supplies following the eruption of Mount Semeru in East Java, Indonesia in December 2021.

In Lumajang, Restu soon realized that existing support services were not meeting a woman’s specific needs, “such as providing menstrual pads, special milk and vitamins for pregnant women.” Through a volunteer organization called Relawan Negeri, she began health-checking pregnant women in emergency shelters. She also works with a local hospital to arrange free access to ultrasound services.

Gender-sensitive interventions such as Restu are vital for sustainable reconstruction after disasters, but they can be inhibited by unequal dynamics in volunteering. For example, men are more likely to participate in formal volunteering, while women tend to volunteer more informally, tend to have lower status, less recognition, and receive less support more practical support than formal volunteering. The World State Volunteers report advises policymakers to adopt gender-sensitive measures that can optimize women’s participation, for example, by ensuring women’s access to with decision-making processes.

The spirit of Gotong Royong dates back to generations, but since 2004 the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs has officially launched volunteering through Taruna Siaga Bencana (TAGANA). By the end of 2020, there are more than 39,000 TAGANA in Indonesia, with more than 63,000 “friends of TAGANA” in professions such as journalism, the arts and civil society.

In 2021, the UN partnered with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to develop online training modules for TAGANA, including a competency-based framework that emphasizes gender inclusion in humanitarian assistance.

Twi Adi, a 38-year-old volunteer from Malang, East Java has been TAGANA since 2006. He has been involved in a number of emergency response operations, including after the eruption of Mount Semeru in December. 2021. The Ministry of Social Affairs provides TAGANA with a small allowance, but Twi says the benefits of volunteering go beyond monetary remuneration. “I love helping others and making a difference at the community level,” he said, “I’m not rich, but I can dedicate my time and energy to my community.”

*A version of this article was originally published in the Jakarta Post on April 18, 2022



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