Mon, 22 Mar 1999

Rp 918.6m financial aid given to poor residents

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Committee for Humanitarian Programs (KKI) distributed Rp 918.6 million in financial aid to residents of poverty-stricken Cilincing, a subdistrict in North Jakarta, on Saturday.

The aid, handed over by KKI chairman Mar'ie Muhammad, includes soft loans for residents to start businesses and funds to pay for the repair of public facilities, and scholarships, food and medicines for teenagers, infants and pregnant women respectively.

The social program will last for one year.

"This money is not charity. It's strongly hoped that the fund can be used by residents to cope with the crisis and build this subdistrict as well," Mar'ie, a former minister of finance in Soeharto's regime, told journalists on Saturday.

The funds were donated by among others, the New Zealand government and Aerowisata hotel group.

Of the total amount, Rp 50 million will be used for administration costs.

The remaining Rp 868.6 million has been allocated as follows: Rp 439 million for the running of 514 businesses in 10 neighborhoods in the subdistrict, Rp 91 million for building and repairing public facilities, Rp 119.4 million for food and medicines and Rp 219.6 million for education.

The business endeavors include trade, home industry and agriculture. Recipients of aid are required to pay 12 percent per annum in administration fees.

KKI said the businesses would give work opportunities to 1,370 people.

The repair work will be carried out on 14 roads, seven drainage systems, two public bathrooms, one water pipe, several educational facilities, 30 garbage trucks and two garbage dumpsters.

The packages for food and medicines includes Rp 62.8 million for 131 elderly people, Rp 19.4 million for 1,221 children, Rp 4 million for 126 pregnant women and Rp 6.1 million for 17 mosque watchmen.

The education project will provide scholarships to 963 schoolchildren and a yearly sum of Rp 18.9 million for 21 honorary teachers.

The handover of the funds, done in collaboration with World Vision International, was witnessed by among others, Governor Sutiyoso, New Zealand Ambassador to Indonesia Michael Green and World Bank Indonesia country director Dennis de Tray and his wife Marie.

Others present included State Minister of National Development Planning Boediono, military observer Rudini and a few KKI members, including businessman Chairul Tanjung, former health minister Sujudi and former ambassador to the United Kingdom J.E. Habibie.

It is the second of about 60 social projects KKI plans to organize. Donations to the organization are audited by international accounting firm Prasetio Utomo-Arthur Andersen.


United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) representative for Indonesia Stephen J. Woodhouse pledged on Saturday that the organization would continue providing food assistance to poor people in the slum area of Bongkaran in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.

The first package will be in the form of soybean milk, Woodhouse told scores of local people during a "Care Action for Indonesia's Malnourished Children Under Five," which was arranged by non-governmental organization Anak Bangsa foundation.

"Actually, one of these food packages costs Rp 4,000, but we will donate the packages to the NGO (Anak Bangsa Indonesia), which will sell it to needy people for only Rp 500 each," he said without further explanation.

"The revenue collected by Anak Bangsa could be used for other social programs of the foundation," Woodhouse said in front of 40 attendees, mostly mothers carrying children.

In an attempt to gauge locals' response to Unicef's plan, he asked the women whether they were ready to pay Rp 500 for the Unicef-sponsored soybean milk.

The mothers spontaneously shouted "Yes!"

Woodhouse did not say when the plan would be realized, but said details for soybean milk delivery to needy children under five "is being negotiated with the Anak Bangsa foundation".

"The future of Indonesia depends on children under five, who are the country's future leaders," he said, adding that nutritious food was essential to a child's mental development.

According to Rosmailis A. Moedjitaba, chairman of the foundation, the health condition of the country's infants should not only attract the attention of big institutions like Unicef.

He said that all national elements should care about dying babies, babies who are suffering from malnutrition and a shortage of nutrients.

"Data we have gathered from some sources shows that across the country there are many children under five who lack nutrition," she said.

Saturday's occasion was also attended by noted physician Hembing Wijayakusuma and Jalaludin Rahmat, a member of Anak Bangsa Foundation's board of advisers.

Vocal politician Amien Rais failed to appear at the site due to a tight schedule, a committee member said.

The giving of nutritional food and beverages by public figures to children under five in the surrounding areas of Bongkaran highlighted the program.

The foundation said in statement on Saturday that there were at least 24 children under five with malnutrition admitted to several community health centers in South Sulawesi and eight malnourished babies reported in Pontianak, Central Kalimantan, every month.

The social program over the weekend was colored by live music performed by three street musicians.

Many of the Bongkaran residents hailed the social program jointly sponsored by Anak Bangsa and Unicef. (ylt/01)