The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Plants and gardening were not Ida's cup of tea, especially because she doesn't have enough space around her small house in Bonang kampong, Pegangsaan, Central Jakarta, to build a garden.
"I was so impressed with the virtually green kampong. Besides, gardening is not as hard as I thought before and it doesn't have to take too much space," she said Saturday.
Since last year, Ida and 20 others in the neighborhood had started to plant vegetables and plants often used as traditional herbal medicines.
On Saturday they were attending a course about gardening and "green pharmacy" from Ibu Bambang, a leader of greening program in Banjarsari, who was invited to share her experiences.
The session was one of the many activities that was organized by GE Money during its Global Community Days, an annual program as part of their integrated corporate social responsibility worldwide.
Also in conjunction with the 480th Jakarta anniversary, that fell on June 22, GE Money's engagement and corporate citizenship manager Ani T. Rahardjo said that the program could help communities, especially slum residents, to empower themselves.
"We focus our activities in this kampong, and today we have this training and briefing session for women about gardening. We will also have a competition for their gardens, and a drawing competition for elementary schools-aged children," she said.
GE and non-profit organization Nurani Dunia Foundation had worked together for six years in Bonang, educating the residents about environment and health-related issues.
They built learning center Rumah Belajar Proklamasi in 2004, a place more than a library or a stop house for children after school time.
"It is also the center for our activities, from religious gathering, meetings for planning upcoming events and regular sports activities, and many more," said Megi Budi Sumarno, a resident of 10 years and now entrusted to manage the center.
In short, according to Megi, the learning center has helped residents to focus on many positives activities, such as sports -- the company and foundation have built badminton court and provide table tennis equipment -- and gardening.
"In the old days, this kampong was a drugs center. Many residents involved with drugs, both as users or dealers. But now, the number is decreasing. Ibu-ibu, who used to sell drugs, have also stopped their business as they have more interesting activities, such as gardening," said Megi.
Imam Prasodjo of the Nurani Dunia Foundation said that the success of Bonang residents to improve the condition of their kampong could be an example for other slums in fight against its various social and economic problems.
"Participation is the key in any empowerment programs in slum areas. The program will succeed and sustain as long as residents take active participation," he said.