Dieng Karnedi, SJ
We are living in an imperfect world and when we look around us, there are many crises and injustices to people and our environment. The gap between the richest and poorest is very wide. Natural resources that are meant for all are controlled by a few. It is no wonder then that the social and environmental crisis continues.
In searching for a response to address such a huge crisis, I realize there are not too many people who care about the crisis and justice problems. The government, which has an important role to ensure justice and wellbeing of people, is often unable to respond. So I often ask myself what I can do as an Indonesian Jesuit.
GROPESH, a youth movement
While I was in Jakarta doing philosophy and theology studies from 2005 to 2009, I worked with some youth who shared a similar vision on the need for environmental management. On 25 March 2007, we launched a youth movement called GROPESH, or Gerakan Orang Muda Peduli Sampah, whose main purpose is to raise social awareness on proper waste management amongst people and civil society in Jakarta.
GROPESH remains active and has many social education activities in Jakarta. These include personal and group promotion activities on how to sort organic and non-organic waste in families, schools, parishes, and offices, apart from promoting 3R+R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle + Replant). We also join events that are organized by radio and television stations, magazine publishers, and government. By joining these public events, we hope to reach a broader audience and gain wider awareness about waste management.
I am very happy to be part of this movement. What makes me happier is that GROPESH has expanded beyond Jakarta and now operates in Solo City for the last two years.
One of our group members in Jakarta, Miss Denok Marty Astuti, moved to Solo and established GROPESH in the Solo region. Miss Denok is a young and talented girl with a deep concern for waste management. She went door-to-door to promote waste management in prisons and because of her effort, two big prison establishments in Solo and Klaten are now able to manage their waste more effectively. Some prisoners even earn some money from the waste management activities.
This movement is still going on and we hope that awareness about waste management will spread wider and inspire many people. Eventually, this movement would be very useful for our environments and people.
OPERA, a youth movement for nature started by biology education students
In 2014, as biology education students, we established Orang muda PEdli konseRvasi Alam (OPERA), which means a movement of young people caring for nature and its conservation. OPERA’s activities combine education and conservation activities such as planting trees and herbal plants in partnership with an elementary school.
During one semester last year, we held “green” education classes at Kanisius Elementary School in Kotabaru, introducing in the process the value of herbal plants and establishing the herbal garden in the school. Tree seedlings were also distributed to the Somohitan parish and we also joined the activities of the parrot conservation group in the Merapi area.
We also held the 25th year commemoration of the 1990 Ganjuran Declaration that called for sustainable, ecologically sound, economically feasible, culturally adapted, and socially just implementation of agricultural and rural development. At that time, fisherfolk and farmers using organic methods were concerned with the “green revolution” program and its impact on their farms and fishing areas. The commemorative event involved many people and was intended to build relations among farmers, college students, and businessmen. With support from Fr. Wiryono Priyotamtama, SJ, related activities to this event were focused on developing organic and hydroponic farming in three different places in the city: the biology education laboratory, the biology education experiment garden, and the Pokoh organic farming.
There were also reforestation activities in Gunung Kidul district of Yogyakarta that experiences regular water shortage during the dry season. The area is mostly karst, with caves and mountains of limestone. According to its geological history, the Gunung Kidul area used to be part of the sea floor and became part of the mainland due to tectonic and volcanic events that raised the sea floor upwards. With a growing population in Gunung Kidul, water availability is a critical concern.
On 16 December 2015, Sanata Dharma University, Wonosari Parish, and Kota Baru Parish (two parishes run by Jesuits) planted a thousand trees in Goa Maria’s location. Learning from this event, we plan to do tree planting in some areas in Gunung Kidul, specifically Grigak Beach and Watu Kodok Beach. These two beach areas are also good sites for the field activities of the biology education department of Sanata Dharma University.
In Grigak Beach, we have a plan to manage this area as reforestation area and develop herbal plants as well. We have surveyed the area and pursued further research to understand the appropriate planting and management needed.
Watu Kodok beach is another important site that we usually go to for orienting new biology education students. Learning camps on biology education are held for three to four days on this beach. Considering the importance of this beach site, we intend to plant more trees to enhance the forest area in Watu Kodok beach.
Further plans and actions
To be a Jesuit who is able to respond to the ecological crisis particularly in Indonesia, I have to gain knowledge. After four years of regency, I pursued my studies on biology education, and I intend to be prepared not only to be a scientist but also as an educator. For the last two years, I have been studying biology education in Sanata Dharma University and that is closely related to my interest on ecological problems.
Promoting care for the environment requires skills and sufficient knowledge and understanding about relationships between the environment and people. I seek an education in the university beyond the classrooms and the theories, getting together with other college students with the same vision and desire to commit and to act.
Dieng Karnedi is an Indonesian Jesuit active in promoting and encouraging an active participation and engagement in healing a broken world, such as the Healing Earth Project where he shares in an eight-minute video the activities of some biology education students in Sanata Dharma University who are preparing planting materials for an herbal garden.