Day One, June 8, 2021
Global IFP Alumni Meeting 2021: From Isolation to Collaboration
[ISJN] Responding to the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic which is still a common problem globally, IFP (International Fellowship Program) Indonesian Alumni attempted to gather the experience of alumni from Indonesia and other countries, through an international event held in June 8 and 9, 2021. The IFP Global Alumni Meeting was conducted in a hybrid method, a combination of online and offline ones. The offline meeting was held at Grand Inna Bali Beach in Denpasar, Bali.
In the first day of the meeting, 79 participants attended online, and 15 alumni of IFP Indonesia attended offline. IFP Global alumni joined from China, Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Mexico, India, Guatemala, Chile, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Tanzania and the Philippines. In addition to the alumni, 5 Social Justice Youth Camp participants from Bali were also present.
Sharing experiences: Collaboration is Key
In the experience sharing session on the first day, participants shared their stories about best practices from each community. Eric Divinagracia from the Philippines, for example, told how the artists participated in organizing performances to overcome the deadlock caused by the pandemic pressures experienced by the community. For Eric, during a pandemic people tend to be isolated from each other. “For us, this action is a movement from isolation to connection,” said Eric.
This is in line with the opening remarks, Agus Nahrowi or Gusrowi as the Chairperson of the ISJN 2021-2025 Presidium stated that the role of alumni is very important, especially during a pandemic. “The key to getting out of the pandemic is that we collaborate together and transform to be able to get out of the difficult conditions created during the pandemic,” said Gusrowi.
Although connectivity during the global pandemic is disrupted, the use of social media for collaboration and sharing experiences is one alternative. Anu Verma from India described an effort to get out of the difficult situation during the pandemic she was doing with her community, by building an Alliance in India involving villagers and community leaders. Anu Verma is currently actively mobilizing alliances in various states in India. They organize the treatment process, provide medicine, and help people who are short of food, and those who have lost their jobs. In particular, Anu connected many parties to work together to help children, especially in areas neglected from the reach of the state.
During Pandemic, Nuraida’s experience in serving children with disabilities, especially children with cerebral palsy has a number of challenges. As a parent of kid with cerebral palsy and the founder of ‘Sahabat Difabel Aceh’, she knows that many children with cerebral palsy cannot access regular physio-therapy.
“Currently, we were bringing together parents of children with cerebral palsy. We empower each other and strive to form a ‘Supporting Group’ for children with CP,” said Nuraida. Furthermore, Nuraida and her community are accompanying 45 children with cerebral palsy in Aceh Besar District, Indonesia.
In Indonesia, IFP alumni from East Nusa Tenggara also shared their experiences in finding alternatives during the pandemic by establishing a laboratory to conduct free PCR tests. “We can help building the system by working together, and we are trying to solve a difficulty that even the state is struggling to solve,” said Elcid Li.
By involving many volunteers, such as nurses, doctors, youth, social activists, scientists and collaborating with local governments a new system can be generated. Currently, with the establishment of the Public Health Laboratory, they have examined 14 thousand swab samples for free adopting the pool test method using a PCR machine. “We can’t just check on those who can afford it, if we want to survive the pandemic together,” said Elcid Li.
Maintaining the Livelihoods of Residents During the Pandemic
“We consider efforts to maintain mental health an important part to do during a pandemic, and we are trying to maintain our mental health condition,” said Gusti, an alumnus of SJYC (Social Justice Youth Camp) Bali 2019. According to him, young people can be involved in reducing the burden of the pandemic by maintaining close relationships in family and friends.
From Bau-Bau, Southeast Sulawesi, Frida Yanty shared her experience with the community she helped to found, Bau-Bau Millennial Farmers. “We are developing urban farming, and through this we are trying to build social cohesion through this program,” said Frida Yanty.
Perigrin, a social activist from the Philippines, who is now collaborating with the central government has done empowerment by inviting community to share healthy food for those in need. Food sharing targets poor families, vulnerable people, children, disaster victims, and the elderly.
Meanwhile, IFP alumnus Berliani Yanty, from Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, shared how she organizes rich or wealthy people to join together to help vulnerable people. “As a civil servant in the fisheries sector, I suggest that people continue to eat healthy food, especially fish,” she said.
The efforts to maintain the livelihood during the pandemic were also carried out by Wardah from Aceh who had a mission to fight for a fair coffee trade, rather than a free market during the pandemic. It connects people in a production and marketing chain through the establishment of cooperatives. “Currently there are 21 cooperatives, with 20 thousand coffee farmers who are members,” she said. She organized coffee farmers who had not benefited from free market practices. According to Wardah, farmers have been greatly affected by the global lockdown, which has closed many coffee shops in a number of big cities and has directly affected the decline in coffee farmers’ turnover. Through cooperatives, farmers get protection, both in the production process and in the marketing phase.
What do you do together?
With the scope of the existing global network, Andi Yani, former chairperson of the 2015-2020 ISJN Presidium, stated that alumni can do more than what has been done, namely by building collaborative work with global networks.
Welcoming this offer, Riza from the Philippines invites that collaboration can not only be done between scientists, but can be pursued by involving the community. He gave an example of his work in terms of biodiversity. “We can network on an Asian scale, or at least in the Southeast Asian region,” he said.
Meanwhile, Guangshen Gao from the China who works in the legal field also stated that in this pandemic situation, efforts to promote social justice must continue. “Covid-19 cannot stop us to fight for social injustice,” said Guangshen Gao. This call to highlight social injustice is in line with the idea of IFP Indonesia Alumni who work continuously in various ways to eradicate this social problem. They analyze and write scientifically about this social injustice as a reversal to achieve social justice. The scientific accounts will be published with Elcid Li, IFP alumni and executive director of IRGSC (Institute of Resource Governance and Social Change), as an editor.
In various countries, Covid-19 exacerbates the social injustice. The Global IFP Alumni Meeting 2021 reminds us that only through collaboration, and not isolation, social justice can be equally fought for.
The IFP Global Alumni Meeting activity is part of the 2021 International Social Justice Forum (ISJF) which will be held from 8-11 June in Denpasar Bali. On June 9, there will be a photo contest and film discussion related to the issue of social justice which will present speakers from Indonesian arts activists living in Indonesia and Australia. On June 10-11, the Global Social Justice Conference 2021 will also be attended by IFP alumni from all over the world online and offline by following health protocols.
Agus Nahrowi (Chairperson of the ISJN Presidium): +62 813-2573-9455
I Kadek Swastika (Chairperson of the Committee): +62 812-3737-8191
For further information about Indonesia Social Justice Network (ISJN), see www.isjn.or.id