When a massive earthquake hit Lombok in 2018, Lily Kasoem, Founder and CEO of Titian Foundation (Titian) went straight to see first-hand the destruction that it had caused, and to see how Titian’s expertise could help. It brought back memories of the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006 which led to Titian’s founding.
Although Titian’s mission does not specifically include emergency response, it does get involved in distributing urgent aid such as food, clothes, children’s books and games and utensils for make-shift communal kitchens. Titian’s more important role is in the period when all the disaster measures have been completed and people need to get back on their feet again and rebuild their lives. Titian identified two villages that were in dire need of this extra help: Pemenang in North Lombok and Rembitan in Central Lombok.
A few years before the earthquake, President Jokowi in his 2015 Presidential Decree identified regions across Indonesia that are regarded as severely disadvantaged. Among the 122 regencies identified as disadvantaged regions, two of them include North Lombok and Central Lombok. These areas, already extremely disadvantaged, therefore suffer disproportionately compared to other areas.
In Lombok, Titian’s primary focus is therefore on education for the next generation of capable yet disadvantaged children. Titian’s experience shows that education for adults is vital to creating a self-sustaining community. That’s why we also provide tools for the community to improve their environment and standard of living through education, training and workshops. Fundamental to any programme’s success is a change in mindset. A good example are the high level of child marriages in Lombok (31% of girls aged 19 to 24 are married before the age of 18). When girls see a future through education, many then place their careers first. So, the most valuable thing we achieve is a mindset shift in the young people we help. They change from accepting lives of relative poverty to dreaming big and, with our support, have the skills necessary to achieve those dreams.
Here are the specific activities Titian has undertaken in Lombok.
Community Learning and Development
Our Community Learning Centre in Pemenang places an emphasis on children’s activities to create an interest in learning among local children. The CLC is perfectly located for these purposes inside the junior high school.
In Rembitan, we are building a new CLC. Titian has already started activities in the village that show local people how to weave traditional designs using specialist techniques handed down through the generations. Adult literacy and language classes have also been run as well as classes on organic farming and sewing. Many of these programmes are sponsored by Soroptimist International (Jakarta Chapter).
Titian’s Scholarship Programme is offered from our CLC in Pemenang. Access to education in Lombok lags behind that in Java and this programme has been significantly over-subscribed. The Scholarship Programme in Lombok offers the same mentoring regiment as other centres, which includes regular counselling and capacity building activities, English lessons and social projects.
Teacher Quality Improvement (TQI)
Titian is in discussions with the education ministry to run its Teacher Quality Improvement (TQI) programme in Lombok. A Needs Assessment has also been conducted and the responses of both the school’s principal and its teachers were all positive. They are excited at the prospect of acquiring new skills to improve their teaching methods. As a tourist destination second only to Bali, education often plays second-fiddle to earning ‘small money’ which is more attractive and necessary to local children. Teachers are often left with little option but to compromise and accept the situation. Better teaching methods will help retain pupils’ attention and illustrate the power of learning as an income-generator too.