Last Thursday, the 14th, we visited Anang and the mobile [Saki library at Kali Code Kampung by the river in Yogyakarta]. SAKI is Sangar Anak Kampung Indonesia.
As I understood it from Anang, the kampung has quite a transient population. People move into the kampung because of it’s close to a big nearby mall Maliaboro, but the jobs are limited and precarious. People leave in search of employment elsewhere.
The pollution from the mall, it’s inputs and outputs, put pressure on the neighbouring kampungs and the river. People who come to work at the mall move into the kampung and this also puts pressure on their infrastructure. Because of their reliance on the employment that the mall brings, some of these people are uncomfortable with Saki’s push to make the mall accountable for impact it has on local communities and ecosystems. This cycle is an ongoing challenge for Saki and the Kali Code Kampung. (Kali means ‘river’ in Javanese, and Kali Code is the river that runs through the middle of Yogaykarta).
There are about 72 children in the kampung, and about 40 young people in their late teens and twenties. Parents are busy working and don’t have time to teach the kids. Anang setup the Saki library to be something positive for the kids and young people. He wants them to have a ‘big view’, an expanded world view, and skills to do the things they want to and to contribute to the kampung.
The library used to live in shared bamboo structure by the river, but after a few years (5?) the bamboo structure needed replacing. It’s been moved into Anang’s house near by. Anang built a mobile stand to transport the collection around the kampung.
The Saki librarymobile has bicycle style wheels and book storage underneath, table-like wings that fold out exposing the organised books, a platform that houses a computer and monitor (both from Anang’s house), and foldable awnings above. It’s a really impressive construction.
The library is primarily for the children, and young people of the kampung.
The collection includes children’s picture books, instructional books for learning a range of software like Adobe Premier and software development like PHP and HTML, journalistic reports about the local area (I think), literature, a recipe book made of dishes collected by locals and from magazines, poetry, manuals for community organising, a collection of DVDs including lots of local performances and festivals that they’ve filmed, at and more.
Anang said that during the dry season he takes the library out to different squares in the kampung most days, and still a few times a week in the wet season. It’s still accessible at his house near the river when it’s not out in the streets.
The library becomes a cinema for screenings from the video collection, using the mounted computer and monitor.
The books in the library come from donations by Anang’s network of friends and from photocopying books of interest from other collections and libraries. Anang says the collection can always be expanded so he’s always on the look out. They never buy books.
The Saki library is a completely volunteer project.
Anang talked about cooperative/mutual learning at the library, or “belajar barsama-sama”. They have classes, including an English class. The young people / older kids primarily take the role of teacher and are involved in organising the library, classes and events. The kids take over these roles as they grow.
Viki at Kunci also talked about belajar bersama-sama as their mode of learning. They’re trying out ‘collective study’ in their School of Inappropriate Learning.
Anang originally set up the library as part of his responsibility as an RT or kampung organiser—he was the youngest RT when he started, Ali has known Anang for a long time and knows much more about this. He also decided to get more of the young people involved in decision making and shares responsibility widely. Young people often leave the kampung in search of work, so it’s important that knowledge and responsibility are shared.
We asked Anang about his attitude towards potential funding from governments, NGOs, or universities for their projects. He says he doesn’t have strong feelings about whether or not they should seek this kind of funding. He took the idea to the collective of kampung organisers, the young people involved in SAKI, and they were against it. They thought it was important to be independent and getting into a funded situation would ultimately drain energy and commitment to the project when the money dried up.
This wariness of the costs of taking funding reminded me of our attitude at Frontyard. We’re aiming to survive and make some kind of sustainable organising, rather than be very active or productive in the short term.
To raise funds for specific projects, and to source teachers or skilled people for specific projects, the Anang and the kampung utilise their existing relationship. You can never jagaad relationships, you can always jagaad resources and technology—confirmation bias?
We visited Lifepatch later that day. They mentioned that they had been measuring water quality next to the kampung for a few years and had done some work with the Saki library to try and make the information collected useful to the locals. The river is very polluted, which the locals know, and ultimately the challenge is to actually improve the water safety, rather that measure it.