Tag Archives: Jakarta

HELP to Open a School for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Jakarta!

Health, Education and Learning Program (HELP) for Refugees needs your help to raise funds to pay for rent and electricity for a new refugee school in Jakarta.

Indonesia is currently home to over 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers waiting to be resettled in a third country. Under Indonesian law, asylum seekers and refugees are not allowed to work; they do not have access to social support from the Indonesian Government and most schools and universities will not accept them.Many refugees are deprived of a sense of purpose and dignity, which can be provided by work and study. They continually face the feelings of being trapped, unable to return to their country, whilst having no prospect of settling lawfully in Indonesia, which for many may have been the country of choice after building a life here. Lack of education in refugee communities and detention centres is one of the biggest problems individuals and families face.

The Health, Education and Learning Program (HELP) for Refugees in Jakarta, run by the community, for the community, is a collective of passionate refugees, working to better the lives of fellow refugees and asylum seekers living in limbo.

The program will help by providing education for children, teaching computer literacy courses to young adults, while presenting a range of Information and technology skills alongside health workshops, focusing on common health issues and family planning education. In conjunction with these classes and activities, HELP will provide an extra curricular component to the program in the form of sewing, embroidery, knitting and handicraft workshops, which will be offered whilst advocating for the creation of further income-generating activities.

Providing refugees and asylum seekers with a space to use their time productively and positively will help prevent asylum seekers and refugee children, adults and families from being trapped in their homes, left to deal with traumas of the past, reflections of the present and fears of the future. With a focus on empowering individuals, HELP will work to provide individuals with the skills, positive energy and support that they need to engage with the knowledge, tools and focus they can access within themselves, creating the confidence and momentum to move forward into their unknown futures.



1. Providing classes for the children to ensure they continue to be engaged with reading and learning.

2. Providing adults with english lessons to encourage preparedness for resettlement, and the encouragement of intergenerational learning of English.

3. Providing opportunities for learning new practical skills or practicing their old skills, with a strong focus on these skills leading to potential income generating activities in the future. Women will be given the top priority.

4. Conducting health workshops most common health that are particular to the area of residents, including family planning workshops.

5. Encouraging and teaching computer literacy as a way to get individuals involved with career development activities.



For conducting our voluntary activities, HELP For Refugees will need to rent a space. As asylum seekers and refugees are dispersed throughout Jakarta, with the majority of them residing in Tebet, it has been decided that this will be where the program will be based.


The proposed budget is an estimated minimum cost of what will be required to establish and run the school and program for up to a year. We need your support to raise the funds to make this education centre a reality!

Program evaluation

Assessment tests will be conducted every three months to determine the progress in children’s studies. Interviews, questionnaire, case study, surveys or focus group discussion will be used to evaluate our outcomes in health and learning areas.

Who is behind The HELP For Refugees?

Mohammad Baqir Bayani and Kalsoom Jaffari are Co-founders of HELP For Refugees, both refugees who have been living in Indonesia for the last few years and have devoted their time to helping fellow asylum seekers and refugees. Baqir is co-founder of The Refugee Reflect Circle (RRC), a group of photographers who use their experience and skills of visual storytelling to tell the stories of asylum seekers and refugees, he is a creative writer, and the co-founder and co-director of Refugees Of Indonesia project.

Kalsoom Jaffari works tirelessly to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers in Cisarua have access to education, essential health information and any translation services. Her previous work experience includes working on health programs with UNHCR in Pakistan and as a Community Health Education (CHE) with Mercy Corps Pakistan’s Integrated Health Program. She conducts monthly health workshops ensuring that women have knowledge on Gender Based Violence, providing them with health and education packs.

Kalsoom is also the founder of the Refugee Women’s Support Group, giving women access to sewing and handicraft activities to encourage the initiation of income-generating activities, supported by Beyond the Fabric. She is also the founder of the Cipayung Education Centre, a small school providing education to refugee children in Cipayung, Bogor.


McKinsey & Company in Indonesia: Unleashing the Potential of the Archipelago’s Economy

Paris-born Guillaume de Gantes started his journey with McKinsey & Company 15 years ago in Paris. He mainly worked in New York, where he was elected as a partner of the firm. This Harvard Business School alumnus moved to McKinsey’s office in Indonesia two years ago and he talks to us about the opportunities and challenges in ASEAN’s largest economy.

Guillaume, tell us how you’ve found working in this region so far.

I love Southeast Asia as a region because there’s so much happening here. For me, the professional aspect of coming to Indonesia was really about being in the heart of what is going on in ASEAN. I was very keen to be in such an exciting country.

Can you give us some background information on McKinsey’s growth in Indonesia and Southeast Asia?

We are present in most countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and most recently, Vietnam. We work with government institutions and enterprises in all major sectors, to translate the region’s rich opportunities into transformative economic and social impact. We also help leading multinationals build and grow successful businesses in Southeast Asia.

We have been present in Indonesia since 1988, and the office was McKinsey’s first in Southeast Asia. We help many of Indonesia’s leading enterprises drive growth, transform operational and organisational performance, shape new business models, build leadership capabilities, and accelerate economic development.

McKinsey is known as the world’s leading global management consulting firm. In which industries do you consult and in what capacity?

Our mission has always been to help clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their performance. Globally, we serve clients across all industries and sectors with capabilities to support execution and make change happen.

In Southeast Asia in particular, we serve clients in all major sectors including oil and gas, mining, financial services, telecom and media, consumer industries, travel and logistics, and the public sector. I personally serve our clients in the financial services, telecommunications and healthcare sectors.

Your recent work in Indonesia has included building one of the major banks here. How were you involved in redesigning the distribution process of this bank?

Given my background, I am personally passionate about working with banks and the financial services industry, which is hugely impacted by digitization. We have done a great deal of work in digital – building digital banks and digitizing current processes. There is a growing recognition that banks will have to change the way they work dramatically or entire businesses will be taken over by ‘Fintech’, nimble financial technology firms. You see this in the US; you have small firms that have already taken over parts of the banking value chain. Every single part of a bank in the US is ‘under attack’ by small firms. So, there is a scenario where banks could disappear. As Bill Gates said, banking is necessary, but banks are not. Banks will have to evolve or lose a lot of what they do today.

There are 118 commercial banks in Indonesia and the interesting question is: out of those banks, how many are ready for competition in the digital age?

Your latest report, Winning in Indonesia’s Consumer Good’s Market, discovered that 7 of the 16 companies you surveyed were winners in at least one of the performance areas. Only one company won in all of them – what traits must a consumer goods company possess in order to succeed in Indonesia?

We did extensive customer research in a number of categories and one of the things we looked at is how consumers make decisions. Indonesian consumers tend to be very family and group-oriented when it comes to making decisions, as opposed to Chinese consumers, who are fairly individual. Indonesians like to ask family and friends if they have tried the product, putting a lot of value in their opinion. They also like products that can be shared.

People here rely on their social network quite a bit, especially through social media, much more than other countries we’ve looked at. There is also a very brand-loyal culture here and shoppers take fewer risks – people typically know what they are going to buy ahead of time. Based on our study, these two things do not change with level of affluence.

Indonesians also really value local brands. In our survey, we noticed a lot of Indonesian people think KitKat is a local brand, when it isn’t. Brands that can understand all of the above and market themselves well locally, as well as integrate into social media will be able to do well here.

Can you please debunk some of the common recent myths of Indonesia’s economy?

The first myth is that Indonesia’s growth is Jakarta-led. If we look back a few years, the economy was already driven outside of Jakarta, and even outside of Java, in Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan. In fact, 90 percent of the fastest growing cities are outside of Java.

Another myth is that Indonesia is an export or raw material-driven growth, when increasingly, it is a consumption driven growth. The population of Indonesia’s urban consuming class is growing by the equivalent of one Singapore every year and will grow to 86 million by 2020.

The most interesting myth, however, is that Indonesia is an unstable economy. We have found that among OECD and BRIC countries, the standard deviation of growth in Indonesia in the first 10 years of the century actually makes Indonesia the most stable economy.

Let’s discuss growth. You believe by 2030, Indonesia could be a global top 10 economy, surpassing the UK, France and possibly Germany. How could this be achieved and what hurdles do we face?

Yes, it could be. Indonesia has strong intrinsics – the growing consumer market, becoming an international food hub, and being a lean resource provider and user.

However, there are also relevant challenges. Our research shows that Indonesia needs to increase productivity by 25 percent to maintain historic growth rates. One major sector that will benefit from this is farming, agriculture and fisheries. A simple example – in Japan, people freeze fish so if the price of fish depreciates, they don’t have to sell their fish right away. Here, the infrastructure to freeze fish is not in place.

There is a big need to improve infrastructure. To grow, the country will need to spend about US$2.7 trillion in infrastructure in the next 15 or so years.

Indonesia also needs to have greater financial inclusion – getting people to be able to save. We have 250 million people in the country but only 70 million bank accounts. Getting more people to save, access credit and use banking systems will be important towards achieving this growth and unlocking its potential.

Do you think the world’s eyes are on this region at the moment?

Yes, very much so. Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. If it were a single country, it would be the seventh largest in the world, with a combined GDP of US$2.4 trillion. It is projected to rank as the fourth-largest by 2050. I am reminded of the opportunities in these economies by the sheer number of companies that have reached out to us to help unlock the potential – it’s amazing. For many companies, they see Indonesia as the next big frontier.

When these companies reach out to you for investment opportunities, which sectors do you suggest they invest in?

It’s very hard to name a sector in Indonesia which does not offer investing opportunities. We have found that there is US$1.8 trillion in opportunities for businesses who invest in Indonesia’s four priority sectors: consumers, agriculture, resources and talent. We believe this potential is going to be further unleashed and accelerated by the power of digital, whether through mobile and internet banking, e-commerce, education, manufacturing, government service delivery and more.

Thank you, Guillaume.

Karishma Vaswani of BBC News

Meet Karishma Vaswani, a well-known face in journalism. Karishma has been the BBC News Indonesia Correspondent since 2009, and was recently promoted to Indonesia Editor of BBC News. An intelligent and strong woman, Karishma is also a mother of two. I meet her to discuss her experiences as a journalist and her views on unbiased reporting.  

Karishma, where are you originally from and what brought you to Indonesia in 2009?

I moved here from India in 2009 with the BBC, but I lived here before as a child and my parents have been in Indonesia for a long time. Before moving here in 2009 I was working in Mumbai as the India Business Report Presenter. I went to primary school and high school in Jakarta, and I read English and American Literature at Warwick University in the UK. I have a Singaporean passport.

Karishma reporting on flooding in Jakarta

How do you juggle being the Indonesia Editor of BBC News and being a mother of two?

Well, family really helps. My mum and dad live here in Indonesia, so when I’m at work, they help me out a lot. My husband runs his own business in digital marketing, so he’s between Singapore and Jakarta. It was quite a struggle initially to think how I was going to look after the kids and work. The other day I was dropping my daughter at school and she said to me, “Mum, today I’m the boss. I’m going to ask the questions.” And I said, “OK great!” That’s exactly what I want her to be doing. I was the first girl in my family to go and get a job and it’s really encouraging that my daughter feels it’s possible to do all this. Juggling work and family is not always perfect, but it’s possible.

You’ve interviewed the Vice President of Indonesia, Jusuf Kalla, the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, the Indian Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, Indonesia’s Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, and the head of Indonesia’s investment board, Chatib Basri, along with many others. Which interview would you say was most memorable to you and why?

In Indonesia, I would have to say it wasn’t one person in particular; it was a group of people. Right before I went on maternity leave last year, the BBC ran a series of stories on asylum seekers. It was that group of asylum seekers that left a big impression on me. There was one chap in particular, who had spent about 30 days in a detention centre in Jakarta and was desperate to get to Australia but his boat was shipwrecked. Australia doesn’t want to take these guys and they don’t want to go back to their home country, Afghanistan, where they will be prosecuted. He was such a nice person who had left his home to try and find protection for his family.

He texted me a couple of weeks after the story went out and told me he was still in the detention centre and had no idea when he’d be getting out. I texted him when I returned from maternity leave and he never responded, so I’m kind of hoping he’s out and has found asylum, but there’s no way of telling. I think it’s those kinds of people who stay in your memory.

It’s a reflection of the fact that at the BBC is not about the high profile, ultra important politicians; we make it a point to go and speak to real people. So you’ll find in all of our stories that it’s the people on the ground that we really want to tell stories about. And that’s why it’s so important to recognize that we have the largest number of journalists of any news network in the world. We have people in the most inconceivable places, bringing invaluable perspective.

Have you interviewed Prabowo and Joko Widodo, the presidential candidates?

We interviewed Jokowi, but Prabowo wasn’t available, so we got his campaign spokesman Sandi Uno instead. Both sides were confident that they would emerge victorious. It’s a tight race, but what struck me throughout this election season is how politically engaged Indonesians are. No matter what happens, hopefully the real winner in all of this is Indonesian democracy. People should expect and demand more of their leaders.

Have you ever been in a dangerous situation here while doing your job?

In 2009, I was on the scene for the JW Marriott bombing. By the time I got to the scene, the bomb had already exploded. It was in the morning and I was at the gym when I got the call, so I went straight out. There were people everywhere, and I had just come away from reporting on the siege in Bombay, so I kept transferring my previous experience over, thinking, “Are there going to be armed gunmen?”

Karishma reporting on the 2014 presidential elections

What does the BBC do to protect its journalists?

We have a hostile environment course, which we all have to undergo, with constant refreshers. Nothing can prepare you for a dangerous situation, but we try and equip our journalists with tips for how to cross a checkpoint, how to identify whether the sound of a bomb is one that’s very far away or if you should dive to the ground. Or at a dodgy checkpoint, do you sense that the guys are just going to ask you for cigarettes or are they going to abduct you? There’s a lot of roll play, which can be quite scary. A colleague of ours, Alan Johnston was kidnapped and he was on one of our courses. After he was released, as a result of a lot of lobbying, he talked about what kept him going and it was the things he had learned; Stockholm syndrome, how to talk to people who kidnapped you, etc. First aid is also the most important aspect of this course.

What do you believe the future has in store for Indonesia?

Indonesia has seen remarkable growth over the last decade, but it has to remain on a stable path, with stable governance and a stable environment.

Do you see Indonesia as home?

Yes, definitely. I have no plans to leave. My parents live here and it’s really nice for them to have their grandkids around. And it’s exciting for a reporter – there’s so much going on here!  

Tell us about the BBC’s impartial ethics, which must be followed by its journalists.

Everyone accepts that journalists have personal biases; that’s a fact of life. But the responsibility of the journalist, and certainly the expectation of the BBC, is that if that personal bias leaks in, you are not doing your job. If you were on my team and you came to me and said, “I have an issue covering this story because I feel so strongly about this,” then I would say, “I think you need to excuse yourself from this story because you can’t get beyond your personal limitations.” And that’s fine. Sometimes people feel really strongly about things and they need to be honest with themselves. That’s part of journalism as well; honesty and integrity. To have a personal bias, that bias cannot affect itself into your work. If you feel that unbiased reporting doesn’t really exist here, then I would ask you to consume more BBC material.

First published in Indonesia Expat, July 2014

Ken Pattern the Iconic Lithography Artist

Ken Patter is an iconic lithography artist based in Jakarta.

Ken is a Canadian artist specializing in stone lithography, producing iconic prints of scenes from Indonesia. Ken first arrived in Indonesia in 1989 and has strong environmental ideals, producing works that oftentimes have hidden meanings.

You seem to have a fascination with, or love of Indonesia. When did this affair begin? 

We moved to Jakarta for one year, 25 years ago, because my wife was offered a job here, working in the educational sector. My wife has a Dutch background, so this was one place she couldn’t say no to. I had never been to Indonesia before, although I had travelled much of the world. After one year here, we felt it wasn’t long enough, so we stayed one more year, and one more year, and after a while we just stopped counting!

Have you always known you wanted to be an artist?

Pretty much, yes. I was fascinated with the world, so I spent four years in the sixties travelling everywhere and in 1967, I thought I had better make something of myself and went to university with the idea of getting a degree in sociology. During my time at university, I began questioning what a Bachelor of Art in Sociology was going to get me. It was a very interesting time to be in the world; things were changing and it allowed me to get involved with theatre, and do my art again after not having done anything for six years.

A scene from Jakarta by Ken Pattern in stone lithography

Tell us about how you first got involved with environmental movements.

The environmental movement was just starting in the 60s and a grassroots organization in Vancouver asked me to join them on a voluntary basis as their graphic artist. This was around the time that Greenpeace was born. In fact, when Greenpeace started, the group I belonged to gave them a cubicle in our office.

There was a lot of student unrest at the time, and the government started giving grants to produce educational materials, which was an opportunity for me to learn and hone my technical skills.

How did your very first exhibition come about?

I got a job as a graphic artist for the Canadian government and saved my earnings. After three years, I quit and went to the public library in Vancouver to book a space for my first exhibition, scheduled for two years’ time. I took off and travelled around Europe for eight months. When I came back, I sat in a basement and produced my exhibition, which opened at the library in 1978. By this time, the money had nearly run out, but I made enough from the first exhibition to make the next one at a commercial gallery in 1979. It just kind of grew from there.

You’re known for your stone lithograph prints. How did this technique become your niche?

When I was drawing, once the piece was sold, that was it. I became familiar with works by the artist M. C. Escher, who produced what looked like pencil drawings but in multiples, which were in fact lithographs. I went to art school to learn the process of lithography, after which I joined a print-making cooperative and I started making my own. I was able to make multiples, which meant that I wasn’t dependent on one gallery and could have my work at a string of galleries all over the place, which I still do now.

Print is called ‘the democratic form of art’ because you can buy an original piece of art at a much cheaper price. This became the backbone that allowed me to survive as an artist. Every year, I go back to Vancouver for three or four months and work in that same studio to make the lithographs, even though most of my subject material is Indonesian.

What exactly is stone lithography? 

It started in the 1700s in Germany and is the method of planographic printing from a stone surface in which the image and non-image areas are on the same plane and not physically separated. The separation of the image and non-image areas is achieved primarily through the principle that oil and water repel each other, together with a chemical reaction resulting when a solution called an ‘etch’ is applied to the stone.

Is it hard to make a living being an artist? Were you supported by your parents?

For everyone who has a hit play, movie, book or painting, there are tens of thousands struggling to do it. Going to school in the 50s and 60s, it wasn’t something that most responsible parents were going to encourage because it meant a life of debauchery and poverty. I think my parents appreciated it, I’m sure my mother does, but I wasn’t encouraged to go anywhere with it.

Why have you focused so much on scenes of kampung in Indonesia?

There was a real boom here in the early 90s and during these years I would innocently walk through kampungs, taking pictures of things that interested me. It might be six months or a year later that I would go back to the site to look at the subject matter more closely. Sometimes I’d go back to a site and the thing that had interested me was gone, left with a construction site of a big building.

Just behind the police headquarters in Semanggi, Jakarta, was a huge, well-established kampung, which was demolished for the central business district.

I wanted to show the difference between old and new, rich and poor, symbolically very much black and white. These places with no historical or architectural value had social value, so I started recording what I thought was a social heritage.

Is there a message you’re trying to convey?

I guess it’s to appreciate the heritage and traditions that define a place. You could say I’m a little anti-globalization because I don’t want to see the same things in every city of the world. Change happens and you can’t deny people progress, but hopefully old ways won’t be discarded for something that looks nice and shiny and new.

Your poster titled ‘Eviction Notice’ is a stark reminder of our effects on the rainforests and your series on the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore was quite controversial. What were you trying to achieve with these works?

In our lifetime, we may see that orangutan are not going to have any natural habitat left because of illegal logging and the palm oil industry. We are sacrificing so much of what has taken so long to make this world the place it is for the sake of materialism. All proceeds from the sale of this poster go to Jakarta Animal Aid Network, a charity that protects animals in Indonesia.

I did the Marina Bay Sands complex as a satire. The whole complex is dedicated to consumption and gambling, which is very foreign to me. I lampooned it. I’ve received a very mixed reaction, but I think a lot of people don’t understand the puns and double meanings.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists out there?

You have to do what your heart says. If you find something that you love, it would be really remiss not to follow that. Talent is nice, but the biggest single factor in making success is luck, coupled with discipline.

Is Indonesia your home for good? 

Eventually I think we will move back to Canada. Any year now!

Visit www.kenpattern.or.id for more information.

Born to Ride: PT GOJEK Indonesia

Michaelangelo Moran by Michael Timothy
Michaelangelo Moran by Michael Timothy

GO-JEK, the army of green-helmeted motorbike taxis that has taken over the streets of Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung and Bali, provides fast transportation and delivery services via mobile application. Their core values of speed, innovation and social impact have led to the company’s huge success. We meet Co-Founder and Brand Manager Michaelangelo Moran to find out more about this social enterprise that everyone is raving about. 

Let’s start with the fact that GO-JEK is a social enterprise and not a business – can you please explain this to us in more detail?

One of GO-JEK’s goals as a business is to improve the livelihood of our drivers by earning more income. As GO-JEK is essentially making that happen, there is a big social impact from the business, which has transformed GO-JEK into a social enterprise.

GO-JEK was established in 2010, however it is this year that Jakartans have really become aware of your brand. What contributed towards this giant leap? 

Firstly, when we started the app six months ago, there was nothing like it in the market, which meant no competition. Secondly, the app works, and seeing as Indonesia’s smartphone penetration is far better than it was five years ago, the app is a major contribution to the success of GO-JEK today. It is user friendly; you can book a GO-JEK much faster than having a call centre; you can use GO-JEK credit to pay, making it cashless; you can see whom your driver is, track your driver and SMS or call him during your order.

When we launched the GO-JEK app, we had a system whereby people were given a referral code to give Rp.50,000 to others to try GO-JEK for free for the first time. This system blew up on social media and people were spreading their codes like wildfire. Once they tried it, they were hooked.

With now over 10,000 drivers, GO-JEK drivers are visible everywhere in Jakarta. With this, people become curious to try out the service.

Michaelangelo Moran and some of his drivers. Photo by Michael Timothy
Michaelangelo Moran and some of his drivers. Photo by Michael Timothy

As the founder, can you share with us the story that led to the birth of GO-JEK?

It started four years ago with our CEO Nadiem Makarim and me. Nadiem was studying in Harvard Business School and I was studying in the Academy of Art University. He hates traffic and therefore uses ojeks all the time and started building relationships with his drivers, asking them to do things like delivering items and doing his shopping. He took one of his drivers out for coffee and asked him how the ojek system works and found out that they are territorial; if they pick up a passenger from Sudirman to Kemang, they cannot pick up another passenger from Kemang – they have to go back to their pangkalan (base) in Sudirman. Secondly, there is a big queueing system; if they return to their pangkalan in Sudirman and there are 20 drivers there, they cannot pick up a passenger until all 20 drivers have picked up a customer. It’s an inefficient system.

We interviewed many drivers and asked what they’d think if we made a system whereby we give them customers and split the commission. They asked us if they could pick up passengers on their own, which we explained would mean no split of commission. GO-JEK was born.

We started recruiting drivers and building the GO-JEK system with the idea of three services – transport, courier and shopping. Fast-forward four years, from 200 drivers we are now 15,000 and have a mobile app that is number one on the Google Play and iOS stores in Indonesia.

Can you tell us how your fees to the customer are calculated?

For the usual pricing, we start with Rp.25,000 for the first 5km and it goes up on average Rp.4,000 per km after. However, right now we have a promo for Rp.10,000 for all services up to 25km (not including shopping and food costs).

One thing that makes GO-JEK really special is your pick-up and delivery service of food and beverages, GO-FOOD, with a delivery charge of Rp.10,000 at over 20,000 restaurants. What do you aim to achieve in the F&B industry by way of providing this service?

With the biggest organised motorcycle fleet in Indonesia, we want to create the fastest and most efficient F&B delivery service. To make it easier for our customers, we wanted to have a portal for menus for all kinds of restaurants from roadside warung to fine-dining restaurants, all deliverable in the GO-JEK fashion – fast and easy. We want to become the leader in this space, providing easy access to food delivery for office workers and residences, with a social impact by improving revenue streams for all restaurants in Indonesia. GO-FOOD is now present in Jakarta, Bali and Bandung and will soon be expanding nationwide.

How many GO-JEK drivers do you have on board now and can you share with us the benefits they receive when joining?

We have about 15,000 drivers onboard right now nationwide. Some of the benefits include accident coverage, medical clinic for drivers and opt-in affordable health insurance for their entire families.

We also do driver safety training with Rifat Driver Lab, training about 300 drivers per week, ranging from classroom learning, basic, intermediate, advanced and pro with a focus on how to create a culture of safety in driving, and eco-driving. All drivers are offered this, and we pay for one full day’s training. Drivers that have been through this training receive safety accreditation. We have also other programmes aiming to improve the livelihood of drivers and their activities while operating in GO-JEK.

There have been stories in the media recently of some of your drivers being threatened by non-affiliated ojek drivers. Can you tell us how you have been tackling this problem and protect your drivers?

To protect our drivers, we now have a third-party security taskforce that provides fast emergency response in situations that involve threats and intimidation. Our supervisors are also out in the field reaching out to and mediating with problem areas – this has proven to be a highly successful initiative to help ojek drivers see us as a means to achieving higher productivity and boost recruitment.

What do your drivers earn on average, and can you tell us about your bonus scheme?

Our drivers on average earn upwards of Rp.4 million a month, but a large percentage of them earn more than 6 million. For highly productive drivers that are able to achieve 10 trips in a day, we incentivise them with a bonus of Rp.50,000.

This year we have also witnessed the birth of your competitor, GrabBike, with branding that is quite similar to yours. How do you feel about your competitors?

Being the first mover, there was no doubt that competition would follow. After all, imitation is a form of flattery. There are quite a few local competitors: Taxi Jek, GO GO Jek, Antar Barang, and many others that have not entered the mobile app space, which we do not fear. GrabBike seems to be the one gaining presence in Jakarta. We feel that GO-JEK – given our national presence and vertical integration – is ahead of the competition. Given our wide fan base, we need to continue to provide superior service to beat well-funded competitors like GrabBike.

With the traffic in Jakarta only getting worse, what do you see as the long-term solution? What role will GO-JEK play in this?

Perhaps an incentive to use public transportation along with subsidised GO-JEK rides might be the way to go. Alternatively, fees could be introduced for major roads like Sudirman and Rasuna Said, like they do in Singapore. The infrastructure being built in Jakarta is already worsening traffic in areas like Wolter Monginsidi, Tendean, Pakubuwono and many others, not to mention the MRT building around Sudirman. GO-JEK’s role would be to provide a feeder system to these station points. Jakarta residents need to have access to the stations in order to use public transport and GO-JEK is the solution to that problem.

To get in touch with Michaelangelo Moran, please e-mail: m.moran@go-jek.com

First published in Indonesia Expat August 2015

The Teacher Exodus: Why are Jakarta’s International School Teachers Leaving?

Teachers come to Indonesia to teach at international schools for a variety of reasons: the opportunity to grow as an educator with many new experiences coupled with a good working package and beautiful travel destinations in the region. Teaching in the capital of Jakarta, however, is not without its challenges and this year more teachers are leaving than usual for reasons ranging from politics, the economy to not feeling welcome in Indonesia anymore.

The capital of Jakarta has 30 international schools, a term changed to ‘multicultural schools’ by the Indonesian Government in December 2014, only allowing an exemption for schools affiliated with embassies, leaving six in the country in total. Originally created to provide education of international standards to children of diplomats and expatriates, today these schools are open to Indonesian students as well, a result of the Indonesian financial crisis of 1998 when tens of thousands of expatriates lost their jobs as the currency plummeted and companies were no longer able to pay the largely dollar-denominated salaries.

Regulation changes by the Government that took effect at the end of 2014 have meant that international schools must teach Indonesian language, religion (depending on the religion of the student) and civic education. Ministry of Education spokesperson Ibnu Hamad said in a press statement last year that the intention of the regulation was to weed out low-quality schools that charge a premium by adding ‘international’ to their title. Indonesian students wishing to gain an Indonesian Diploma are also obliged to take the national exams before moving up a grade or graduating, at the end of the sixth, ninth and 12th grades.

Former JIS teacher Neil Bantleman is carrying out a 10-year sentence for allegedly sexually abusing a child at JIS, however no evidence was ever produced against him. Courtesy of CBC
Former JIS teacher Neil Bantleman is carrying out a 10-year sentence for allegedly sexually abusing a child at JIS, however no evidence was ever produced against him. Courtesy of CBC

Also in 2014, teacher Neil Bantleman and teaching assistant Ferdi Tjiong were arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a child at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS). Although no resounding evidence against them was ever given, both teachers have been sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

Most international schools are seeing a higher than usual number of foreign teachers leaving the country at the end of this school year. This is on par with the number of expatriates living in Indonesia reducing by 20 percent – from approximately 77,000 to 62,000. There have also been rumours that the Government plans to reduce the number of expats working in Indonesia to 30,000.

George Tsementzis is an administrator at the North Jakarta Intercultural School (NJIS) who believes that the higher rate of teachers leaving is partly due to the case that took place at JIS. “We saw Neil Bantleman being pulled into a courtroom without any probable cause,” he said. “This could happen to anybody and you’d be done; nobody can help you. The sad thing is immediately all Indonesians think expat teachers are child molesters.

“Teachers see that there is no justice and that they’re not protected by their embassies,” continued Tsementzis, adding that NJIS is losing 10 percent more than average of its teaching staff this year.

At ACG School in South Jakarta, approximately 13 teachers are leaving, which is over 25 percent of the teaching staff; again a figure higher than average. Chris Betts is a teacher at ACG School who saw teaching in Indonesia as “an opportunity to try something different.” Betts moved to Jakarta in early 2015 and does not feel threatened or unsafe teaching in Indonesia. “If I did start to feel unsafe, I would leave for sure,” he says.

Foreign teachers of international schools on average move every 2.4 years and international school teachers are in high demand. Requirements to be able to teach at an international school include five years teaching experience, a degree in the particular subject they teach – recently changed by the Government, whereas before the degree did not have to relate to the subject taught – health checks, police checks and an international child protection certification.

According to Tsementzis, not all schools adhere to these requirements. NJIS have also provided financial motivators and administrative changes for teachers this year as a motivator. Tsementzis believes there is a shortage of qualified, experienced expat teachers in Indonesia, but not a shortage of expats who want to teach. He feels that teachers will prefer to go to other countries to teach as “there are better options available in other Asian countries; Vietman and China are opening schools every day.”

In light of recent raids of foreign workers in Jakarta, and more recently of a raid on a golf course where those not carrying their passport and KITAS were fined Rp.5 million rupiah and one Japanese national was detained, expats and expat teachers are feeling less welcome here.

Helen Thomson is a PE teacher at the British International School (BIS) in Jakarta and feels the situation is only going to get worse. “I definitely feel assessed personally and feel less welcome and I think, especially over the month of Ramadhan, that it’s going to be stricter than normal.”

When asked why she ended her contract at BIS and is moving to Europe, she answered, “Honestly, I’m done with Jakarta; seven years is a long time. The kids are amazing and why we do our job. Indonesians are generally wonderful people and it’s sad that the situation is turning a bit. I want to remember it as it was.”

Since the JIS trial, BIS has added CCTV cameras all over the school, and more child protection training has been implemented. “A lot more awareness has been given to teachers of how we should be with the students because as international school teachers, we’re different from British soil teachers – we have more of a relationship with students,” Thomson says. “Anything can be taken out of context and that’s the scary thing.”

Thomson feels her school is becoming more like a business, with less of a community spirit and no longer a family feeling, which she believes is due to the economy and the exodus of oil, gas and mining expats. Schools have to work harder to enrol new students in a difficult economy. BIS is losing 43 foreign teachers this year, an 80 percent increase to last year’s 25. A lot of these are long-term teachers, she says.

Originally, applications to fill these 43 positions were high, but Thomson says some teachers decided not to move to Jakarta for various reasons, resulting in a lot of internal appointments and promotions. BIS mainly recruit within Asia and the Middle East, with very few coming from the UK this year as the school prefers to hire teachers with an international background from another school in another country.

A teacher at JIS says 35 teachers are leaving out of a faculty of over 300, and 63 new teachers will be starting in September. “Unlike other schools in Indonesia, people come to JIS to build their careers; it’s one of the top schools in the entire world in its 64th year,” this particular teacher says.

“It all goes back to the hierarchy of needs: if their needs are being met, one incident won’t make them leave,” the teacher continued. “A compounding situation may make them second-guess, but the quality of teachers JIS attracts is far different than any other school in the city.”

Tsementzis believes that international schools will adjust to the new economy, as will the market. “I think it can only go up from here,” says George. “International schools are a good source of income for the country and they want to keep it that way. I’m planning on staying.”


First published in Indonesia Expat 

Helping the Kiddies in Need

Mary’s Cancer Kiddies (MCK), a charity providing financial support for the treatment of children with cancer in Jakarta, was propelled into the spotlight when Scott Thompson, a Scottish expat working in Jakarta, ran from Bali to Jakarta to raise money in their name. Thompson successfully ran this great distance of 1,250km—with the children’s faces, no doubt, as his inspiration—making it clear that this charity was one worth going the distance for.

This noble cause was originally started in 2003 by Australian then-expat and journalist, Mary Binks. On a visit to Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM), Mary met cancer-suffering children in the non-infectious ward and was appalled that the families could not afford even the most basic diagnostic procedures. She promised then and there to pay for some of the tests required, eventually realizing that the issue was far bigger than just finding money for a few scans. “I would need to start raising serious money on a grand scale to help as many children and their families as possible. And so the idea of MCK was born,” Mary tells me. Mary’s philosophy is that “a life not lived helping others is a life not lived.”

Mary felt very strongly from the beginning that her organisation would not just be about money, but also about being there with the child until the very end: “It’s incredibly difficult to watch a seven-year-old die; a child who should be riding a bike or kicking a football not knowing what the inside of a hospital even looks like. It’s an experience that stays with you for the rest of your life…”

Julie van Laarhoven of MCK. Photo by Jim Kaunang
Julie van Laarhoven of MCK. Photo by Jim Kaunang

In 1999, now-MCK Chairwoman Julie van Laarhoven moved to Indonesia with her husband, meeting Mary at a playgroup in 2003, where she felt compelled to support Mary’s cause. “I was with the International English Service Church and our life group felt strongly that we wanted to do something to help and so we raised money to pay for chemotherapy for the children,” Julie explains. “When Mary started, she would meet the children and their families and would write these beautiful profiles, spending time to hear their hearts. This made it difficult for sponsors to say no to such a desperate situations to help the children get medical treatment.”

When Mary moved to Israel and then eventually home to Australia, Julie and a team of five passionate volunteers — including two Indonesian dentists — have continued to keep up the amazing work for the children. “It was heart-wrenching leaving MCK, the patients and their families,” Mary explains, “but Julie and a succession of extremely wonderful volunteers transformed MCK into an organisation more far-reaching than I could have imagined.”

Today, MCK works together with six doctors, sending them money every month to help cover the costs of cancer treatment, as well as other illnesses, for children and premature babies at RSCM and Rumah Sakit Kanker Dharmais (RSKD). “The doctors are our ears and our eyes and we’ve worked with the same team since the beginning,” Julie explains.

Meetings between MCK volunteers and doctors take place on a monthly basis, which has established very solid relationships, and doctors find it extremely helpful to know that there is money available, ready to be used for children’s treatment when needed. The doctors spend the money on low-income families only, and there is utmost trust between them and MCK volunteers. Monthly reports are produced by the doctors, including invoices and receipts, keeping everything transparent.

On top of providing financial support for treatment through MCK also provides prosthetic eyes for children who have retinoblastoma, a very aggressive type of cancer, which usually requires surgery and removal of the affected eye. Julie also personally emotional and spiritual support on her visits to the hospital. “Sometimes I bring other women from my prayer group and we ask parents if we can pray for their children in the hospitals, regardless of their religion. We are always received positively,” Julie explains.

In 2014, the Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Sosial Kesehatan (BPJS) system came into effect, providing healthcare for Indonesian families. Through this system, however, not everything is always covered, especially when it comes to cancer, as MCK quickly learned. There is a list of all medicines covered by BPJS, but there is a cap on the amount that the government will cover per medication, per patient. Low-income families who aren’t able to cover the remaining costs will be supported by MCK. A downside Julie has seen in the new system is that it often takes time for families to apply for BPJS and get the correct paperwork together, which can contribute to the child’s situation worsening. Since its arrival, however, Julie has seen more and more private hospitals opening their doors to the system – a very encouraging development.


Photo by Jim Kaunang
Photo by Jim Kaunang

Working with sick children must be extremely hard, so what keeps the MCK team going? “There was a boy named Bayu. He had a tumour the size of a football on his eye socket. He came from a little village in Riau that doesn’t even have electricity and their family somehow managed to bring him over to Jakarta. I would go to Cipto and sit with his mum and dad while he underwent treatment and surgery. After Bayu was cancer-free, his mum would call me every couple of months to thank me for helping him. You can’t put that feeling into words and that’s what keeps me going,” Julie answers as her eyes tear up with emotion.

It is a shame that the government has never acknowledged this organisation’s hard work and efforts to support the children of Indonesia and Julie’s message to them would be to continue to improve the BPJS system because — although not perfect yet — it certainly does help.

Mary dreams that all Indonesian children have the same opportunities to live as children in developed countries have, hoping that Indonesian babies will no longer be abandoned at hospitals when a mother can’t afford the care. “My adopted son had to be abandoned at a Jakarta hospital 15 years ago because his birth parents couldn’t afford the emergency caesarean that saved both his and his birth mother’s lives,” says Mary.

The work of MCK is done solely through their generous sponsors. “We really appreciate our donors and it’s because of their generosity and commitment to raising funds for the cancer kiddies that we’ve been able to continue,” Julie says gratefully.

Last year, Mary’s Cancer Kiddies helped an amazing 807 children, including 163 babies.

When asked what inspires Julie to keep going, she replied, “When you visit the children in hospital, there’s just so much fear on the parent’s faces. They’re so afraid because they don’t understand much about cancer, and they are worried because of how much treatment will cost. As a mother you’d do anything to help your child. It doesn’t matter what it costs.”

If you’d like to help volunteer or donate to this worthy cause, please visit www.Maryscancerkiddies.org 

Bent in Paradise

If you’re a certified Scuba diver, you know this scene too well; floating around beside a beautiful underwater wall abundant with vibrant coral, getting up-close and personal with a timid pygmy seahorse, or holding on and feeling the force of a strong current blasting over your face as you watch sharks and schools of barracuda in a feeding frenzy in the open waters above you. The opposite of this scene, however, which most divers won’t experience in their lifetime, is the one I’m sitting in now: under 18 metres of atmospheric pressure in a hot, humid and claustrophobic hyperbaric chamber.

The dangers of diving in Indonesia are not heard about as much as the joys are. Naturally, we try to focus on the positives rather than get bogged down with the negatives, and why worry about getting the infamous ‘Bends’ until you’ve actually got it? Unfortunately, there are dangers to diving in Indonesia, which, if all dive outfits were to practice safe management and responsibility, could be significantly avoided.

I am told through the voice on the intercom inside the chamber to take a five-minute break from the oxygen mask. This is my third, and hopefully, final day inside and when resurfaced from this dry dive, total time spent will have been 12.5 hours under pressure in an attempt to alleviate the nitrogen bubbles which have built up in my body after a dive trip to East Kalimantan. Treatment at Jakarta Navy Hospital’s Hyperbaric Centre consists of an examination by one of the Navy doctors, followed by a certain number of hours in the chamber at the relevant pressure table for your condition, combined with pure oxygen treatment for the most part of your stay.

The most common misconception of decompression sickness is that it occurs when you resurface from a deep depth too quickly. The truth is that you can actually get this painful sickness coming up from a depth of only six metres. Divers put their lives into the hands of their equipment, however my dive computer did not enter a decompression dive alert, and many other divers who ‘got deco’ can vouch for me on this.

Giving the ‘OK’ sign from inside the hyperbaric chamber

Alejandro Septien has been diving for 20 years and has not once had any problems. He is now sitting beside me in the chamber for treatment of Type I DCI. “I don’t understand how this happened,” he tells me. “I always follow the rules!” Alejandro, a Mexican expat and new to Jakarta and Indonesia, was diving around the idyllic island of Bangka, and on this occasion had to rent all his gear from his local dive operator, including a dive computer. “I did all my safety stops, didn’t do any deep dives, and didn’t drink the night before, but a few hours after I had ascended, I started to feel a pain in my back. Initially I thought it was from the strain of carrying the scuba equipment, but after two days when the pain moved to my legs, I knew something was wrong.” In Alex’s case, the gauge of the rented equipment was off, causing him to do his safety stops deeper than planned.

Dr. Padma, the Chief Navy Dr. at the Hyperbaric Medical Centre in Benhil insists that at the first sign of decompression sickness, attention must be given immediately. “There are many factors which can lead towards decompression sickness, including not getting enough sleep, consuming alcohol or being physically tired,” she explains. “If you have any tingling sensations, pain in your body, visual disturbances, vertigo, fatigue, lethargy, or a feeling of confusion, come to our hospital for a consultation immediately.” The sooner you treat symptoms, the more chance you have of fully recovering. After treatment you are also told to rest, drink a minimum of three litres of water a day, not fly for at least 72 hours and, should you live on a high floor in an apartment, take the stairs or go up in the lift very gradually.

If you have insurance with Divers Alert Network (DAN) then your treatment will be fully covered, however for many, decompression sickness can cost thousands of dollars, and more importantly, your life. Rendra Herthiadhi, Banyu Biru Explorer founder and DAN Instructor, believes that a common misconception is that dives within a No Decompression Limit or within dive table range are 100% safe. “This is not the case,” he tells me. “Generally dives conducted within NDL should be safe, but DCS could still happen and hit an unlucky diver.” According to DAN statistics, five people’s lives were lost to diving in Indonesia in 2011, of which bodies were recovered, and at least 39 recreational divers were treated for DCS in Indonesia. “Whilst many of these were for mild cases of DCS, several were of a very serious nature, requiring urgent assistance,” Rendra adds.

In stunning East Kalimantan, our dive operator at Nabucco Island Resort were irresponsible by allowing maverick dive guides to continue to work, even when they were aware of their negligence; escorting tourists down to depths of 40 metres without mentioning this in the pre-dive brief and ascending carelessly without proper safety stops. Regrettably the owners of the dive resort were not willing to take any responsibility for their reckless guides. Although their dive outfit come across as reputable, the results were to the contrary. It is always best to do some reconnaissance work before you plan a dive trip and ask fellow divers for advice on trustworthy dive operators.

Of course we are all responsible for our own actions but naturally, when you are new to an area, you trust your local guide, putting your lives in their hands and following blindly. Adrienne Jo Salcau is a PADI certified Divemaster and guide, and one many have come to trust. “I never take divers past 30 metres unless they’re very, very experienced,” she tells me as we discuss my dives at Nabucco. “First thing is a check dive so I can assess their skills. I don’t bring unfamiliar or inexperienced divers right into current or deep dives. If I’m doing four dives in a day, 30m is the absolute max and should be done first, then each dive should be shallower and I always, always do a safety stop. Being a dive guide involves a lot of things, but the main priority is safety.”

Survivors of decompression sickness with the staff at the Hyperbaric Medical Centre, Jakarta

Diving is a wonderful sport and pastime, which brings us closer to the curious wonders of the underwater world and its inhabitants, but we cannot deny the dangers involved and must remember that we are merely guests in the ocean. Allow more time between dives, do fewer dives per trip (it’s not a race), always do safety stops and come up slowly, allow a minimum of 24 hours after your last dive before you fly, and ensure every dive guide provides a proper brief, which you stick to. Don’t allow yourself to become a statistic and may you never have to sit inside this hyperbaric chamber to save your life.

Rumah Sakit TNI AL Dr. Mintohardjo (Jakarta Royal Navy Hospital)
Jl. Bendungan Hilir No. 17, Jakarta.
021 5703081 Ext. 176/326
Direct line to Hyperbaric Medical Centre: 021 5732221

First published in Indonesia Expat, March 27, 2013

Also published in Diver’s Alert Network Deeper Magazine October 2013

Clean Up Jakarta Day 2015 Official Video

On Sunday, October 16th 2015, Jakarta’s citizens carried out the Indonesian tradition of gotong royong by picking up rubbish and cleaning up Jakarta together in ‘Clean Up Jakarta Day 2015’. The aim of the clean-up is to educate people about the detrimental effects of littering, and in turn spark an awareness of the importance of recycling.

This campaign was carried out by volunteers, of which there were 10,000+ this year, picking up rubbish, separating into recyclable and non-recyclable sacks as they cleaned. All clean-up activities commenced at 7am at 37 sites throughout the city. These sites were nominated by volunteers and approved by the Clean Up Jakarta Day team.

Clean Up Jakarta Day is an annual event which acts as a platform for existing communities, schools, companies and organizations to join together on one day with one united voice against littering. Ambassadors this year included business magnate Sandiaga Uno, actress and TV anchor Marissa Anita and actor and TV host Mike Lewis, as well as Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) and Dinas Kebersihan Kota Jakarta supporting the event.

Rubbish collected was separated into bags of recyclable and non-recyclable materials, and the recyclables were taken by Dinas Kebersihan DKI Jakarta to the city’s waste banks.

Clean Up Jakarta Day is an annual event I founded and I would like to thank all of the Clean Up Heroes for taking part and raising awareness of Jakarta’s rubbish problem, as well as cleaning up the city together.

Please visit www.cleanupjakartaday.org for more information.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this day possible!

Pastis Please

Have you tried Pastis? No, not the French liqueur, the Mediterranean-come-Italian Kitchen and Bar in Aston at the Kuningan Suites. Although this oasis is considered semi-fine dining, the service, cuisine and décor oozes fine dining.

In Pastis, your derriere is spoilt for where to park. Choose to sit at the elegant bar where a 4.5 litre bottle of Chivas lives, (tempting, I know) in the nonchalant restaurant which accommodates one very long bench-table which encourages mingling, on smaller dining tables which peer out onto a striking tree-lined garden where you can also relax comfortably on lounge chairs under chic sunbrellas. The sight of the white walls, white colonial-style windows and shutters, white kitchen cabinets filled with colourful fruit, the hanging French ceiling fans along with pots, pans and cooking utensils encased in vine leaves and the dark wooden ceiling beams above the restaurant hit you all at once. This place really is charming and you feel as though you are in someone’s kitchen/dining room (a very spacious one I might add) in the Mediterranean.

There is also a self-contained lounge to the left of the restaurant where smoking is permitted, and on weekend evenings, a house-music DJ spins his decks to a hip young crowd. During the day, this lounge feels very bright and cosy as natural light streams in through the large white-paned windows with romantic white colonial shutters. In addition to all this, Pastis has its own wine cellar where you can purchase very fairly priced Italian, Chilean, Argentinian and Australian wines.

So what did we eat at Pastis? I think the question is what didn’t we eat? The smiley Chef James tickled our palettes with a Brie and Apple Salad with Salmon Carpaccio and organic greens, then he indulged us with Homemade Gnocchi Gorgonzola, Spinach Ravioli al Pesto, USDA Beef Tenderloin which was cooked to perfection, Australian Lamb Chops with Mushroom and Thyme sauce, and upon instructions to, “Make room in your belly for dessert,” spoiled us with Vanilla Panna Cotta, Apple Strudel with Italian Vanilla Gelato and a Hot Chocolate Melt. This feast was followed by a very strong blend of Italian and Vietnamese espresso, which left us buzzing for the rest of the afternoon.

“We serve the best possible food at the best possible price,” says GM Raymond Marcel Zuest, and just from glancing at the menu you can see that this is true.  A bottle of their house wine is priced at Rp.325,00++, their cheese platter Rp.140,000++ and during their new Acoustic Ladies Night on Wednesdays, a lavish barbeque buffet will only set you back Rp.138,000++ per head. That and free cocktails from 6-8pm for the ladies accompanied by live acoustic music makes this an irresistible spot to relax in on a Wednesday night.

The main restaurant area in Pastis.

Delicious and unpretentious food, service with a smile, a comfy yet stylish white setting which feels like nowhere else in Jakarta, a place to have a romantic candle-lit dinner in a private garden (any offers, gents?), and Chef James’ smile are a few of the many reasons to make a trip to Pastis. I also mustn’t forget to mention their daily happy hour, which is a staggering four hours long (from 4pm – 8pm) and tempts you with two draught beers for the price of one.