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The “other” Jakarta

Luke Millar is Habitat for Humanity Australia’s Regional Program Manager for South East Asia. He shares with us his visit to a slum as part of a recent trip to Indonesia.

As a part of our expanding urban programming, I recently visited a number of slums in Jakarta where shelter standards are vastly inadequate and water and sanitation facilities scarce. As is common for informal settlements like these, they sit along train lines, river beds, or other such ‘fringe land’ in the midst of city skyscrapers. The contrast is confronting.
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Habitat works in spaces like these and in partnership with the community to reduce the common risks of fire and flooding, and to improve access to quality drinking water and proper sanitation.
While speaking to families about the challenges they encounter on a daily basis, I met a young man on his way to class at university. His story is a great one. Through a micro-finance loan and livelihood training delivered to his mother through a local NGO, she was able to open a small beauty products stall and use the money to send him to school. He turned out to be a gifted student, excelling at math and science before earning a scholarship to study physics at one of Indonesia’s best universities. They still live in the slum together, in a small, single room deep within the labyrinth laneways that peel off from the busy railway line uphill. It was clear his neighbours were proud of him, and his mother too.
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Now in his third year, he soon hopes to graduate and move his mother somewhere more adequate nearby so she can continue her business and stay connected to her friends. I wish him all the luck in the world.
Worldwide, the number of people living in slums is growing. Currently, there are one billion people living in inadequate housing. This number is expected to rise to 2.7 billion by 2030. Tackling Asia’s housing crisis and reducing poverty go hand in hand, as adequate shelter is the very basis for a life of opportunity and promise.
Habitat for Humanity’s projects in Asia focus on helping families break the cycle of poverty and access safe and decent shelter. To make a donation and help families in need click here
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