You are never too young to make a difference and Ika Irawati proves it. A lively and enthusiastic 26 years old youth member and treasurer of Koperasi Simpan Pinjam Karya Manunggal Sejahtera, FLO ID 33806 a Fairtrade cooperative in Indonesia started accomplishing incredible things at a young age. She is one of the representatives of the younger generation of Indonesian SPOs and an active participant of NAPP Gender Leadership school.
In the pic: Ika during her training at Gender Leadership School in Bangkok
Having grown up in a coconut sugar producer family, she has always been proud of her late father who was a Penderes (a local Javanese word for someone who works as a coconut sap tapper) and her mother who prepares coconut sugar block by the traditional method of boiling and crystalizing the coconut sap. Her familiarity with the lives of Penderes was her calling to serve in the Karmatera Cooperative. Prior to her being elected as a treasurer of the
cooperative, she has a long-standing experience of working as a facilitator for the groups of coconut sugar producers.
With an innate passion for different fields of social causes, Ika continues to work for the development of her SPO and the community of Hargorojo village, a village where the Cooperative is located and where she lives. Being a youth herself she has spent considerable time working for the community kids and youth. For a start, she served as a teacher at the community kindergarten for integrating young children of the community into the world of learning basic reading and other social skills. As an active member of the youth organization at Hargorojo village, she likes contributing her ideas and energy into proposing solutions to the current communal problems and challenges.
That is not all, she also advocates for environmental causes and supports in driving the collective environmental campaigns in the village. She encourages youth to take real actions in keeping the environment healthy and clean. To keep them motivated Ika along with members of the Hargorojo youth organization also organized a competition among the youth that aims to keep the environment healthy and clean through tree plantation and waste management. As a devoted Buddhist, she volunteers at the religiously affiliated organization that works on charity and youth development.
During the outbreak of COVID 19, Karmatera Cooperative has played an active role in collaborating with the government of the village and other community members to create a local COVID 19 response mechanism system. Through this collaboration, the community has implemented local measures to respond to the crisis, including the set-up of a checkpoint at the entrance of the village to monitor the to and fro movement of the villagers.
In the Pic: Ika with the members supporting community to monitor the entry point
The checkpoint measures include body temperature checks, educating the public on the safety and hygiene protocol, and distributing free protective masks to those in need. Each member and the staff of the cooperative, including the villagers, fulfill their collective duty by serving at the checkpoint. Karmatera has also donated sanitary materials and medical tools to the local government.
In the pic: distribution of medical essentials to the villagers
In the pic: sanitisation measure at the entry gate
During the pandemic, Ika has been serving as a local journalist for a governmental body as a part of COVID 19 response team to accelerate the sharing of information and updates on COVID 19. She covers stories related to COVID 19 that are happening in Hargorojo.
At a young age, her journey has been a great learning experience through her association with various social organizations, and with her learning, her passion for social causes continues to grow. Now Ika along with her Karmatera Cooperative plans to organize an initiative on food systems resilience to provide adequate and accessible food for the villagers during the pandemic. For this initiative, the cooperative will collaborate with a regional community movement that creates a plan for the food resilience approach. The approach involves setting up an individual household farming of catfish and vegetables which will build the food security for the villagers and provide them with quality and nutritious food.
‘’I keep on learning and find my calling for various calling. Now I want to raise awareness among the youth on the economic potential of sustainable local organic farming. The youth can make coconut sugar, farm organic fruits, and sell or export it through Karmatera cooperative. Local economic solutions are helpful for the youth instead of finding jobs outside the village. If we promote and support the youth to thrive in the sustainable local economic potential, it will lead to a gradual shift within the youth, to move away from economic activities that involve the exploitation of natural resources such as collecting woods and sands to sustainable local organic farming and eco-tourism.’’
At a young age, her journey has been a great learning experience through her association with various social organizations, and with her learning, her passion for social causes continues to grow. She along with her organization has paved the way to social and economic sustainability at the local villages where their member producers live and thrive. Ika’s journey will continue to create many self-reliant, socially, and environmentally conscious youth in the community.
NOTE: The above contents do not reflect the views or opinions (expressed or implied) of Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP). Any views or opinions represented in the content solely belong to the youth.