When was the foundation established?
It was officially registered on 17 April 2018, but that’s just the official registration. We had done a lot of work already before it was officially registered. I started with Bawah in October 2017, so from October 2017 until April 2018 we were going around [the villages], setting up the priorities and doing a lot of mappings so by the time our foundation was officially registered we had come up with set lists of priorities and programs.
Could you tell us more about the working relationship between Bawah Anambas Foundation and Bawah Reserve CSR?
Bawah Anambas Foundation is set up so that the CSR funding from Bawah Reserve will be channeled 100 per cent through the Bawah Anambas Foundation. However, the foundation itself is an independent institution, meaning that we are not relying or not working for Bawah Reserve only. We are allowed to take other funding from other organisations or donors.
How has the progress been so far?
Because the foundation was only recently established, what we’ve done so far is planning and the planning stage takes a lot of effort and time because we need to make sure that our programmes and priorities are properly consulted to the local government, the provincial government and also to the central government. Beyond that, we also do a lot of engagement and consultation with the community and with different international organisations. So now we have a community that’s completely aware of the work and they are ready to support and to take part in our programs. Starting in August this year we are going to start the implementation [stage] on the field.
Is there any timeline set by the team to complete all of the priorities set for the foundation?
It’s an evolving program so we can’t say we’re only going to do this for one year or two years and we’re going to get out, that’s not how it works. So the objective of the first six months is to take as many lessons as we can from each program that we’re doing. For the next year, we’re going to adjust and improve the programmes that we have. There will be no deadline as in ‘Okay, we’re going to finish the program at this stage.’ The objective is more on ‘how does the community respond to that and how well has the community improved’. I also have to tell you, this kind of program has never been done before in the Anambas villages that we’re working in. The villagers have never experienced anything like this, so it will take quite a while to get everyone get used to this. Now, once the program is up and running, the idea is that we will able to move our program. It doesn’t mean we stop it but we’re hoping that we’re going to move our program to a different village or different beneficiary.
Can you tell us about the living condition there?
Anambas regency consists of about 45,000 people across 7 districts and across more than 250 islands. For the main income, 80 per cent of the community rely their livelihood on the ocean, from being fishermen or doing aquaculture. Now, one of the biggest issues in the area is overfishing, which means that the ocean does not have enough time to restore itself so that’s why the fish stock in the ocean keeps depleting. Now, again I have to say you can’t talk about conservation to a hungry man or to a mother who is worried about their children’s education. That’s why it’s really important for us to be able to do conservation in order make sure the people are not forgotten. A big part of our community development program is actually catered or geared toward providing them with alternative livelihood so they will still be able to put food on the table for their family; they will still be able to support their children to go to school but at the same time allowing our ocean to restore it.
What kinds of community and environment do the foundation wish to create?
We want to make sure that the local people, especially the younger generation, are able to have better income without having to destroy the environment. We would like for the children to be able to have better vocational skills not just through formal education but also through vocational education like English lesson and hospitality skill. We also want to tell them that it’s better to keep and protect the coral rather than destroying them.
What have been the best and most challenging parts of your job?
The best part of my job is hanging out with the villagers, understanding how they live and appreciating the level of local wisdom and knowledge. We live in such an urban area that sometimes we lost touch with the nature; sometimes we have this perception that stems from the urban setting. We always think that the villagers in the rural area are not doing things in the most efficient way, but learning the reason why they do them in certain ways were amazing. It was such a great learning experience from me. We have not faced a great challenge in terms of resistance, because I think we have an amazing support from the local government and local community; normally those kinds of things take a lot of time so we’ve been very fortunate. The challenging part, most probably is I have to travel on a wooden boat that takes five to six hours for a one-way trip on the rough ocean. Sometimes it was raining, there was thunderstorm and there were a few times that the captain even approached me and handed me a life jacket. It’s pretty intense but overall the hardship is totally worth doing.