Indonesia, Asia

IDN02 - Community Empowerment : Partnership Reports

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Report Date: April 4, 2024

Report from BHW Indonesia Partnership Facilitator Following Visit in March

We arrived in Pekanbaru at 8.30am and were met by A who took us straight to their base and preschool in K village. We spent the morning there with them. It is the start of Ramadan, but the preschool was operating and the team members were there. They are making some renovations and extensions to the bathrooms and the builders were hard at work. The village is made-up of poor people who make their living by making bricks. It is hard dirty work, burns a lot of native timber and the locals make very little from each brick. We hung around there for a couple of hours and then A took us to a local restaurant for lunch.

under waterLater in the afternoon we went to the ministry office where we met with six of their key leaders. 

The next day we came back to the preschool centre. The team was busy preparing for the 19th celebration of the ministry and as the afternoon wore on more and more young people began to arrive. By the time their programme got going there were around 80 young people including the leaders. They begin with some singing and items from various groups and then went outside for some games before food time. 

The following day we got going to visit a village some two hours from their house. They have been visiting this village since 2009 and some of the young people come from this village. The village is currently under water, and we spent the afternoon wading around the streets visiting people and eating food. We had to wade around the village in our bare feet and catch a very small boat along a very large river to get there. We met many people and had conversations with them. 

Recent Events


Several major events have occurred since our last visit; COVID, the pineapple farm has begun production, and the English Academy which had around 90 students last visit now has more than 300 students. This is helping significantly with their income.

Several of their key young people have moved on into employment and they feel the loss of their experience. However, there are many more coming into leadership. We spent time talking with them about this and the inevitability of their people leaving. 


building relationshipsSeveral aspects of their work have become more and more important as time has passed. They began a small micro credit scheme in 2012 and more than 100 people have access to loans. For the first few years it did not go well as people did not understand the concept. They began with US$8,000 and it dropped down to $700. Currently 15 families are strongly engaged with it, the amount is growing and is now back up to $2,000. They have a slight issue in that most of the loans are to brick makers for the purchase of firewood which of course creates environmental issues for them.

Currently they are helping 25 students to complete university studies by giving them scholarships. Having donors to the students creates some other dynamics that have not always been easy to manage.

I asked them what the five main priorities are, and they responded:

1) Continuing to develop their team is a major priority. They have invested many years of their lives in the young people and are seeing this bearing fruit now.
2) The pre-school in K has been operating for several years and is having a major impact in the community. They see this is something that needs to continue as it provides a base in the community for them.
3) Leadership development programmes have been very useful, and they think this is something they want to continue.
4) Helping people with their documentation has proved to be a real blessing to many families and a strategic way of engaging the community. One of the young men leads this and is full time helping people become established. Last year he helped around 250 people get their papers sorted allowing them to access government services.
5) Visitation of people in the community around K and in other communities continues to be a very useful tool and they intend to carry this on.


Personal Stories

being supportedDavid* is a young man who has been involved with the ministry for all of their 19 years, starting as a child. He wanted to improve himself, but his parents stopped him coming however he found a way to start again. People looked down on his family and he loved coming because of the care and attention he and his family received. They learned about themselves, the value of social interaction and how important education was. When he got to elementary school he was bullied a lot. 

At home there wasn't much love and care especially from his father, but his mother supported him. Now he has the ministry family, their input and assistance, and they accept him like he is. He got a scholarship to go to college and he is very thankful. For the first two years at university he lived by himself and sometime after that the relationship with his father was fully restored and now his family fully supports him. God has truly helped him. He has a Bachelor's degree in English. He now lives at home with his father, mother, two younger siblings, an older brother with his wife and two kids, two cousins and a sister with two kids. It's a tight squeeze. They live in K near to the ministry centre. In the near future he is going to teach at the English Academy short term to earn some money. 

learning lots"When I was in middle school, I once watched a show on TV. This programme was very touching because it showed how children who are not in school have to struggle to survive and work to eat. At that moment, my heart began to be touched and I thought that when I grew up, I wanted to accommodate all the children who were not in school and help them to go to school. After high school, I thought that I had to have a lot of money to do everything that ever crossed my mind about helping kids who weren't in school. As time went on, I never thought about things that were on my mind seriously.

After I finished college, I worked with the ministry. Actually, from the start I didn't know who they were. After being introduced to all the activities, I tried to take part. Many things surprised me when I joined. One of them is a place that never crossed my mind and I have never been too, namely K. Seeing that place, I remembered my wish in middle school. I still cannot believe that I was there at that time. As time went by, I began to understand what I should do in that place. The team also taught me many things and opened my mind widely. Here I was taught to always be grateful for what I have. When I complain, I am reminded of the people in that place, and my complaints are nothing compared to the lives they lead.

I used to think that with a lot of money, I would be able to help a lot of people. Here I was shaped and changed my perspective on it. Money is just a tool to help people. Money is not everything. Share your life with those who need help not only with money. We just sit and listen to their stories, that is truly sharing life. Helping them by taking them to the hospital is also a form of sharing life. Smiling at them is sharing life. Teaching children who have dropped out of school to read is sharing life. Visiting and giving strength to those who are sick is sharing life. All of these things made me realize that truly sharing life is when we share what we have, not what we don't have.

*names changed for security reasons 


Partnership's Influence within the Community

K Village - It is obvious that they are having a great influence in this village. Many hundreds of children have been through the pre-school and the parents are very appreciative. Community leaders frequently visit and ask for help.

Their work of helping people get necessary official papers is an increasingly important aspect of their work. Without these papers they cannot get their children into schools neither can they access free medical treatment. However, it is a very frustrating process made more difficult by some of the churches who are reluctant to give the necessary recommendation to poor people who contribute nothing in the offering bag. 

lots of waterM village – is about 2 hours south-east of Pekanbaru on the delta of the Kampar River. The river is huge, at least 400 metres wide near the village. It is a Muslim Malay village, and the team has been visiting regularly since 2009. About 5 or 6 years ago a large gas field was discovered and the whole community has split into three factions. Large tracts of land have been stolen from them with thousands of palm oil trees. The team has been called in from time to time to help with the situation, but nothing has been resolved. At one time there was a camp planned for the young people of the village, but threats were made and it had to be cancelled. 

In December 2023 there were huge rains in the headwaters of the river and since then the village has been inundated. The water rose higher than any flood previously, up to 2 metres high right through the village. All the houses are built on tall piles, but they weren’t tall enough for most. The key family in the village planted 280 palm oil trees 2 years ago and the flood has killed them. They lost about US$2k and US$800 per month income after 6 years. 

Another man who is open to them and in whose house they often meet, lost 300 plants. He is known in the village as the pastor although he has not become a Christ follower yet! 

Two girls from the village are part of their team. One of them runs a school in the village for the kids. Her father died before she was born, and her mother died when she was young. She was brought up by her grandmother and has a passion for her extended family. She was in the village the day we were there. 

There is the constant whine of several chainsaws in the village as there is a lot of boat building going on. The water level had been subsiding up to a week ago but there are more rains in the hills, and they are afraid that it might begin to rise again. 


Plans for the Future

We spent a couple of hours talking with A and M about their plans for the future. The ministry has been operating now for 19 years and they are asking themselves a question about what they might do differently into the future. They are still not sure if they need to make any changes or just continue investing in the lives of the young leaders.

For several years M has been the country leader for Interserve and has just relinquished that role. It had become a real burden for her with more than 20 people to care for spread all over the country. Without that responsibility she is wondering what her role might be now that she has more availability.

They know they could do more, but they do want to act strategically. They have several quite mature leaders and feel the need to bring three of them into full time leadership roles and are thinking about the best way to do that.


Current Issues and Challenges

A’s health has not been good for a couple of years. He has had to have several operations on his nose, and he still has ongoing issues. He is trying to be more careful with his food and to exercise more but he does get high blood pressure and worries a lot about that. He also has sleep apnoea, and this causes him more stress.


Prayer and Praise Points

1) That A would regain full health again 
2) That there would be a spiritual breakthrough in M village
3) That the young leaders would become Christ followers and take a stand
4) That they would continue to have good reputations in the community
5) That they have a stable financial base for the present time and that the Swiss partner would continue.  



COVID had a strange but overall good effect on them. The government had quite a relaxed response to Covid, quite a fatalistic response. There were no strict lockdowns, only one period of two weeks where it was tighter, markets functioned, and people got on with their lives. They were careful but didn't stop. There were few reported deaths, only two that they are aware of, and they are not sure if they were COVID deaths. Most schools remained open in some way and people wore masks. Foreigners left the country for two years, but most activities continued. They had no guests coming from offshore and this had financial implications for them.

Up until about four years ago finances were a major issue for them, but a Swiss donor came on board with large regular donations. A Christian organisation called HMK also began supporting them with friends from the USA. This has been a real boost to the work and enabled them to do much more than previously.