Sunday, 7 December 2008

More volunteers turning to green efforts

Published on The Jakarta Post (
More volunteers turning to green efforts
Triwik Kurniasari, Olivia Dameria, , The Jakarta Post, , Jakarta | Sat, 12/06/2008 11:52 AM | Headlines

International Volunteer Day was marked on Friday amid global concern about climate change, which has seen more volunteers in Jakarta dedicate their time and lives to environmental preservation in the polluted capital.

Volunteer Edy Sutrisno admitted doing community work to save wetlands was a bittersweet experience ever since he first joined the NGO Jakarta Green Monster in 2006.

"I enjoy my time as a volunteer. I feel very energized when I meet people who share the same interests," Edy told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

"I'm so happy because we are not the only group of people concerned about this issue," said the 31-year-old co-founder of the NGO.

He and a group of friends established JGM to raise awareness of the environmental degradation of the city's wetlands, including the dwindling mangrove forests.

Fondra Rompas, 28, from Grombolan Peduli Sampah, or Gropesh (Trash Care Community), said being an environmental volunteer had presented him with many advantages and experiences.

"I wasn't very concerned about global warming and didn't know what to do to reduce the effect until I joined the group. We should first take part in a series of training, like how to turn organic waste into compost," said Fondra, adding that Gropesh focused on waste management, from separating organic and inorganic waste, to producing compost.

"Although the activity sometimes takes time and is tiring, it's not a big deal. I want to keep dedicating my life to the community," he said.

For many of Jakarta's youths, being a volunteer is also a positive and productive way of spending their spare time.

"I'm single and I don't have family obligations. So at least I can do something useful for the community," said Dahlia, a university student who volunteered at an event to promote the minimum waste concept, organized by the Urban Poor Linkage at Tugu Proklamasi, Central Jakarta.

Another university student, Wahyu, said he wanted to do something to save the environment.

"Of course the fun part is meeting new friends, but I really want to contribute something to stop global warming," said the 21-year-old.

International Volunteer Day, established in 1985 by the UN to recognize the work done by volunteers the world over, is marked each year on Dec. 5.

Besides UN recognition, many volunteers are not rewarded for what they do, and some even face hurdles in trying to lend a hand.

Edy said not everything he did worked out as planned, especially when it came to the city administration.

"We used to put high hopes in the city administration to support our programs. For instance, they assured us they would back up our programs, but it turned out just to be lip service," he said.

"We also find it hard to deal with the city's red tape."

Volunteers' families also have to be magnanimous, he said.

"My wife and kids sometimes complain about my activities at JGM because they often take place during weekends, which is family time."

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