With the mounting threats of deforestation and degradation of forest and ocean in eastern Indonesia as the last frontier, it requires the roles of all parties, particularly young peoples. Considering the fact, EcoNusa initiated Young Forests Volunteers (RHM) initiative in collaboration with the Muhammadiyah Education University (UNIMUDA) of Sorong to work out this agenda. UNIMUDA has Freedom to Learn of Free Campus (MBKB) infrastructure that could be adjusted to youth movement by applying their knowledge and capacity to go back to village and develop the local community.
RHM recruited young people with special skills and interest to dedicate themselves to stay for at least 6 months to a year to apply their knowledge, hobby, and innovation for the community. Continuing the 2021 program, EcoNusa cooperated with UNIMUDA to organize an RHM intensive training or bootcamp for university students on 1-3 September 2022 at UNIMUDA.
As from 78 registrants, 20 youths were shortlisted through administrative selection for further interview and psychology test on the next steps of selection process. The quite rigid selection eventually nominated 5 students that met all the requirements. The event was opened by UNIMUDA Vice Rector III for Students Affairs, Sirjojuddin, assisted by the Head of UNIMUDA’S MBKM Implementation Department, Wisnu Wardoyo.
“This is our commitment to select the fit and proper participant for Relawan Hutan Merdeka program. Never select the wrong persons. We deploy communicative peoples with voluntarism spirits and persistence so that they are willing to dedicate living for six months in the village,” said Sirajuddin in his speech.
The RHM concept was built as part of youth movement building particularly in Eastern Indonesia. The involvement of young people in this activity is part of the responses to the current condition of forest, sea, climate change, and indigenous peoples.
Report from Auriga in February 2021 found that the natural forests in Tanah Papua reduce its size by 663,443 hectares in the past 20 years. Some resources found that the licenses for palm oil estate have been growing rapidly. It illustrates the environmental problem really exists and needs handling immediately by, among others, the youth roles.
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In the 3-day bootcamp, the participants will learn the relevant materials in preparation of their mission in the village. they will study on ecological crisis, community development, community organizing, indigenous people, communication, publication, and advocacy. The materials are delivered by experienced mentors from EcoNusa and UNIMUDA.
To raise awareness, the event was marked by initial steps for participants to identify the challenges from their surrounding environment. They wrote their identifications, ranging from domestic waste, particularly plastics, deforestation, land conflict for plantation, tenurial conflict among locals to the low education quality in the village due to the lack of teachers.
Such awareness has grown stronger when the facilitators asked them to observe their own potentials. They wrote down their education background, best skills, and hobbies. From this point, they then wrote their plan for 6 months in the village, their dreams for the village.
Iva, one of the participants with Early Education background, was very delighted to join the process. “I will try to analyze the local needs and will observe the existing education problem,” she said. Iva’s dreams go along with Eky’s with his background on Sports Education. With his knowledge, Eky will find alternative solution to learning process at the village.
Meanwhile, other participants, Ayu and April with Information and Technology knowledge background, intend to create a web-based information system for the village. In addition, April who happens to be a member of Students Activity Unit on Dancing plans to explore the local arts and culture.
All wishes of the RHM participants will be utilized for the village development plan and building their dreams for the village. The first day of RHM bootcamp gave endorsement to the youth idealism to build Indonesia from village. Doing small thing in great way is the spirits induced by the facilitator.
Editor: Leo Wahyudi