Monday, May 18, 2009

Youth Involvement in the Kampong in the Context of Cultural Diversity

Yogyakarta is a home for multicultural society. It is a dynamic city where you can meet the big waves of post-modernism, modernism, and traditional rites inside the city wall. It is the meeting place where the group of young contemporary artists fulfill the city with their vibrant murals painted in every corner of the streets, while the flocks of intellectual youngsters enliven their nights with a long, deep discussion accompanied by a cup of smoldered charcoal-dipped coffee and a pack of kretek[i] cigarettes in the angkringan[ii]. It is also a palace for Javanism rituals and traditional offerings on every particular date in the complicated Javanese calendar. Not to mention the big shopping malls and fast food franchises which are side by aside with the crowded populace along the river bank of Code[iii].
The residents of Yogyakarta come from many places around Indonesia, especially the youth for they come to Yogyakarta to study. This city offers hundreds of best universities and academies. Many of them then decided to live and blend with the local, find a job, get married, and cherish the diversity. They are scattered mainly in the kampung, several types of housing complex or boarding houses and suburbs with greeny rice fields and buffalo plows.
Kampung = Kampong (?)
What is kampung anyway? Kampung or often said as ‘kampong’ is a residential area, particularly for lower classes or the poor in the city. It characterizes the fabric of most Indonesian cities. Therefore, the existence of kampung is important to be recognized for it is a home for over 80% of Indonesia urban inhabitants, despite only 30% of urban space of Indonesia exist as kampung. Back to the Dutch colonialization era, kampung is identified as settlement for factory workers and city criminals, but in its progress, kampung has become the survival system for the most urban population. Since the New Order era (under the Soeharto regime) until nowadays, kampung is considered negatively as the black spot of the city, and cannot be used as the measurement of the city development.
In fact, it is not true. Kampung has grown fast, if I may say, as subculture. In his 1979 book Subculture the Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige argued that a subculture is subversion to normalcy. He wrote that subcultures can be perceived as negative due to their nature of criticism to the dominant societal standard. Hebdige argued that subcultures bring together like-minded individuals who feel neglected by societal standards and allow them to develop a sense of identity. Later, I will explain about several kampungs in Yogyakarta which happen to be the partner of Yayasan Pondok Rakyat (People’s Shelter Foundation, the NGO where I work) which tend to be fit in this definition.
Actually, kampung is able to face the inexorable globalization by their own way. As an example is how they solve the economic problem by raising various type of informal jobs which can earn a living as well as tackling unemployment. Kampung also can work out the space problem, both in public spaces and personal spaces. However, the accessibility of the kampung with the larger system seems not aligned and has been widely marginalized the kampung itself, such as the education system. The high cost of education does not enable parents in the kampung to send their children to school. Meanwhile, if they can send their children to school, it does not mean that the work field can accept them. Besides the limited number of job opportunities, education in Indonesia is only dedicated to the well-off. This fact can lead them to be frustrated, down on the criminal actions, or flee to the drug abuse. If the kampung has gone to such kind of condition, it seems that kampung is a dwelling place for criminals and those who lose out in the city.
The Marginal Kampungs in Yogyakarta
Yayasan Pondok Rakyat (YPR/People’s Shelter Foundation) is a non-profit organization to promote civil society in justice and focus on the activities on developing urban society and the environment. YPR works with mainly four marginal kampungs which are located in the river bank, called Kampung Badran, Kricak, Tungkak, Sidomulyo, and recently added two kampungs, Pandeyan and Bumen.

Kampung Badran
It is located about 1 kilometer in the south west and is located in the river bank of Winongo River. Badran nowadays is well-known for its security mafia which is consisted of a well-organized racketeers and hoodlums. In the past, Badran used to be the Chinese graveyard where the city criminals hid from the police raid. People were afraid to enter this kampung, not only because the thugs, hoodlums, and criminals lived there, but also it was the biggest prostitution centre in Yogyakarta.
In this kampung, there is a part called Ledok. It is the part of kampung which is the nearest part from Winongo River and becomes the image of the ‘disorder-and-impoliteness’ of the kampung. Even though Ledok is not involved in the syndicate, the dark image given to the kampung has become the Ledok inhabitants’ burden. YPR works in 5 RT[iv] which consist about 130 families. 

Kampung Kricak
It is located 3 kilometres in the north flood plain of Winongo River. It is well-known as the Old Racketeers’ Kampung. It was not the place for rehabilitation, but it was the place to live and hide for all the hoodlums, thugs, and racketeers. Because of its black history, this kampung is always controlled by the government, especially on its funding aids and development. Lately, the obvious character emerged on its residents is their formal behaviour which tends to be the characteristic of the ‘government-ruled’ kampung. Yet, several groups in the kampung have tried some efforts to create a more formal condition by using a particular religion. YPR works in RT 15, consisted of 65 families.
Kampung Tungkak
It is located about 2 kilometres to the south east from the downtown and situated in the south flood plain of Code River. Tungkak is distinguished for its predicate, as the kampung for homeless and thief. In its history, this kampung was used as the rehabilitation target since the Dutch era until New Order era as a gathering place for diseased people, homeless, and garbage-takers. That is why the kampung is called Tungkak, because in Javanese, tungkak means the lowest part of the leg which is usually used for kicking something to the back. Even though this kampung has a bad image in the society, but it develops to the better condition as other kampungs do. YPR works in all parts of the kampung, which is consisted about 100 families.
Kampung Sidomulyo
It is located in the north flood plain of Winongo River across to Kampung Kricak. Those two kampungs relatively have the similar characteristics, even in some points, Sidomulyo has worse image and its level of youngsters’ criminality is higher than Kricak. Mostly, the residents are garbage-takers and street singers. Mainly, the youth, both boys and girls have not finished their school (drop-out). This kampung is also one of the limited numbers of kampungs which can accept the existence of transvestites. There are 30 transvestites who live and mix with the residents in Sidomulyo.
Kampung Pandeyan
Actually, Pandeyan and Bumen are two kampungs which are relatively new in working with YPR. Pandeyan is located near the ex-bus station. When the 5,7 Richter scale earthquake hit Yogyakarta in 2006, this kampung was suffered from the ruins and wrecks.
Kampung Bumen
It is located in Kotagede, where the Ancient Mataram Dynasty took place in the history of Yogyakarta Sultanate. History also notes that Kotagede once was the colonist's central administration, although present reality has shifted this image into a serene suburban. It is also the place for silver artisans create their famous silver craft. Different from Pandeyan, kampung Bumen is a religion-based kampung (Islam-Muhammadiyah). The roles of Muhammadiyah and local actors in maintaining local identity in this kampung is high. This kampung is shaped by the significance of Islamic and Javanese traditions which also influence the local history and the dynamics of local politics inside. This kampung was also suffered from the earthquake three years ago.
Those kampungs have the characteristics of urban kampung: rigid (generally people assume it as ‘rude’), expressive, and people who come from varied background of origins, jobs, and education. Most of the inhabitants work in the informal sector, such as: pedicab drivers, street vendors, beggars, labors, garbage-takers, street singers, and hoodlums.
The role of women is high in the family’s life, and almost all of the people work. Inside their communities, they are extrovert and expressive. On the other hand, when they interact with the outsiders, they become less-confident, rigid, introvert, and defensive, regarding their thoughts as the poor urban kampung inhabitants. However, these kampungs also have the educated and well-off residents. The sentiments between the two different social statuses sometimes trigger small conflicts.
Sanggar: An Alternative Education
Sanggar is a learning center of kampung communities. Sanggar is developed as an alternative solution to respond the failure of formal education, which is not pro-poor. Most kampungs’ people are marginalized and poor, especially children, youngsters, and adult who lack of formal education. Sanggar is an alternative place that provides training to improve and enhance their skills.
So far, YPR has developed Sanggar in 4 kampungs: Kricak, Tungkak, Badran, and Sidomulyo. In the beginning of 2004, sanggar was initiated by conducting literacy class for women in Badran and English class for children in Kricak. Ten women attended the literacy class and 20 children learned English through drama, play performance and opera. While in Tungkak and Sidomulyo, YPR conducted more activities like handicraft and art workshop.
In Sanggar, the kampung residents have 7 activities, which are:
1) Workshop on Basic Social Analysis
The workshop is aimed to identify the social problems of the youth in kampung, such as: unstable youth organization, heterogeneity, lack of formal education, and unemployment.
2) Theater in Kampung
Theater functions as tools to build social consciousness. It means that instead of performance as its final achievement, the learning process is more significance. Theater makes the players learn about social problems through their own story in the performance. Since theater process has a strong communal characteristics, the players (who mainly the youth of kampung residents) can also learn to organize and cooperate among themselves. As a visual act, theater can also functions as a mirror for kampung people.
3) Kampung Bulletin
It is a media of expression, communication, and a place where people could actively discuss the topic interrelated to their kampung. All of the materials published in the bulletin are purely the collective work of the youth. The content is varied from tracking down the history of their kampungs, kampung profiles, poems and short stories, or particular events or happening in the kampung. Kampung bulletin develops into: (a) a media of expression, where the youths learn to transfer their ideas in a written form, (b) a means of study where the youths develop their responsive senses concerning on kampung problems, (c) providing a communication and information transfer, (d) a means of comparative study from one kampung to others.
4) Kampung Comparative Study
It is aimed to bring kampung people a different experience to learn on education activities based on Sanggar. The comparative study done recently was in Pusdakota Surabaya to learn about Waste Management, and before was in Jakarta in Sanggar Ciliwung and Sanggar Akar. The comparative study has given the kampung people an obvious pattern of how to run a fine community, organize and inspire them to improve their awareness for alternative education and some other programs for community self-service.
5) Workshop on Craftsmanship
The workshop was held together with the Kampung Environment Arrangements program. Therefore, YPR facilitates the practice of carpenter’s training skill along with the reconstruction process of Balai Warga (Community Building) as a laboratory for kampung’s craftsmen.
6) Kampung Spatial Arrangements
It is done due to the need of building the public space for the kampung people since they do not have any meeting place especially to conduct routine kampung activities. With its building, kampung men, women, and children can overcome the problem of having limited space for their activities. Thus, Balai Warga (Community Building) has utilized for kampung meetings, youth meeting, women’s neighborhood association meetings, library, and alternative education place for children.
7) Kampung Festivals
It is a kampung celebration rites which gives kampung people to express their arts and talents in several certain subjects. The subjects are chosen as part of advocacy process to overcome the bad image of kampung, such as: waria (drag queen), pengamen (street singers), Kampung Theater, painting and photography about kampung life. The main theme is “Kampung Masa Depan Kota” (Kampung as the Future of Urban Life).
Kampung and its Dilemmas
By holding several activities in kampung, YPR also tries to bring the kampung issue in the government level. One of the examples is when the local government of Yogyakarta banned all the street singers to enter Beringharjo Market[v]. The issue became serious since most of resident of Kampung Sidomulyo were street singers. By holding a public meeting, the street singers could sit down together with the local government to discuss the policy. Another result is YPR becomes the pioneer of empowering the kampung people. After YPR, there are many NGOs, both local and international, get down to earth and help the kampung development.
However, kampung keeps their dilemmas within its crowded isles and the laughter of the children. Talking about the youngsters, all of the kampungs under YPR are having problems on:
1) Actually, the youth organizations in kampung have good programs, such as arts: jathilan[vi] which becomes their media of expression, and kampung bulletin to express their thoughts. Nevertheless, the youth participation in public meeting or kampung youth meeting is dominated by the males, while the females are happy to come, sit and become the good listeners. Almost in all youth meeting I encountered, the most active participants are the young males. This fact leads to the big problem: how to maintain the sustainability on the youth organizations in the kampung.
2) The globalization glimpse creates multifacet difficulties to the youngsters in kampung, such as the insatiable trend of cell phone or fashion, which dazzle the youth to possess that stuff, even though they come from poor family. In most cases, it is the young girls who tend to follow the trend. There will not be the smoke without the fire. The trend comes from the television, especially the sinetron. Sinetron is an abbreviation from cinema-electronic, kind of soap opera which shows only the glamorous life of youth in the big three themes: love/dating, divorce/family problems, and violence. The actors and actresses are dressed up in fancy clothing, full make up, and unnatural acting (exaggerating styles). Sinetron comes in any time of the day: morning, midday, afternoon, and in the prime time night. So we can imagine how big the effects are built since most houses have a television at home in the kampung, and sinetron always comes up in a long time series.
3) Other problems are the unemployment for youth, crimes (pickpocket and robbery), and teenage marriage because of unwanted pregnancy. The big word under the line is education. Most of the family is poor and they cannot afford to send their children to school, and many youngsters are dropped out from schools. In this case, YPR role is to build a kind of kampung-based alternative education, or called as Sanggar.  The program that I work with recently is called “Sekolah Kampung” or literally means “Kampung School”. It is an alternative education program for youth and adults, to speak on such big issues like political participation for the youth (since Indonesia is facing General Election and Presidential Election now), reproduction health for teenagers, especially girls and young mothers, early marriage & teenage marriage and polygamy based on particular religion, tradition or economic reasons.
A Piece of Reflection
I was born and raised in kampung. I follow the dynamicity of the kampung and its culture. However, what I notice about the youth in kampung and the youth in general in Indonesia is the inability to read what it is behind the text, failure to read what it is behind the glamorous of sinetron, and difficulty to read what it is behind the advertisement. The illiteracy to read the phenomenon occurs in their surroundings and the action to follow the trend, I think, are the complicated problems take place in the young generation nowadays in Indonesia.
While the big shopping malls and cafes put their shiny billboards on and the fast food franchises glows their glittery lamps in the humid night in Yogyakarta, the outskirt town has its own way to wake up and face the new day. The city has grown up bigger and bigger and put kampungs below its skirt. However, the good point to write is the kampung people has their own intellectuality, creativity, and local wisdom which mix with the religion and tradition. They surely proof their existence by their unique dynamicity to face the inexorable globalization.
Yogyakarta -Jakarta, May 2009
Paper presented in the Youth Encounter in today’s World Crises
Karur, Tamil Nadu, India, 20 – 25 May, 2009

Copyright: Invani Lela Herliana (a) 2009.
People's Shelter Foundation - Yogyakarta, Indonesia 

[i]  A strong-flavored cigarette which is a mix of tobaccos and cloves from Java (some people say the smoke is smelled like marijuana).
[ii]  A small food stall only exists after 5 p.m. up to 4 a.m. with its wooden pushcart covered by orange or blue tarpaulin which offers the main menu of sega kucing (lit: the cat rice; it is a small portion of rice, hot sambal and tiny sea fish wrapped in a banana leaf) and bitter Java coffee
[iii]  Code (pronounced: choo-day) River is a river flowing in the middle of the city, from the Northern part (Mt. Merapi) to the Southern part (South Sea).
[iv]  RT (Rukun Tetangga) is the smallest part of organizing the neighborhood, about 30-40 families under the sub-district of the city. It has the leader called Pak RT and it is usually a voluntarily job. RT is under RW (Rukun Warga).
[v]  Beringharjo Market is a famous big market (four-store building) in the town center, near the Sultan Palace. We can find everything in that market, from batik clothes to underwear, from jamu (traditional beverages/healthy drink from Java) to the piles of second-hand stuffs in the flea market.
[vi]  A Javanese traditional performance art, closely to dancing and sometimes followed by magic rituals, which has four dancers who each of them bring a wooden-plaited horse. The music of jathilan is so intense and powerful (using gamelan) that the player can be in a state of trance condition and sometimes can be asked to do strange things like eating the shards of glass, roses or walking in the glass shards.

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terimakasih ya sudah mampir dan menyapa kurakurakikuk :)

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