An Unexpected Service Project
The school year ended in May for the students at United World College South East Asia (UWCSEA) in Singapore. So early in June, six young men who just finished the 11th grade, made a trip to XSProject in Jakarta. What started out being a project to deliver school supplies and discarded banners for making new products, turned out to be something quite extraordinary.
Jakarta Street Kids is a UWCSEA service club that raises money for non-profits in Jakarta that support the educational needs of the poor. XSProject and Jakarta Street Kids have partnered for several years. They also sponsor 17 students in the XSEducation program.
On the first day of their visit, General Manager, Retno Hapsari took them to the Cirendeu open garbage dump where XSProject works. While walking through the community, they stopped at the house of Oman and his family. Oman is a trash picker. He collects trash from streets and garbage bins in large plastic bags that he carries or drags behind him because he does not have money to buy a traditional trash cart. Oman’s wife, Asnah was also at the house and they watched as she sorted the piles of plastic trash.
The young visitors were moved by Oman’s story. They learned that, with a trash cart, he could collect 3 to 4 times more trash he currently collects, thus earning more money from greater sales. They discussed Oman’s predicament among themselves and decided right then that Oman needed a trash cart.
They pooled their money, gave it to Oman and sent him to purchase enough materials to build a brand-new cart.
The next day they went back to the community and worked with Oman and Heri, a trash picker who knows how to build trash carts. By the end of the day it was finished and ready for use.
“I would never have dreamed that I could have my own trash cart. And I never thought that I could have one in one day”, said a grateful Oman.
In a follow up email to XSProject, one of the UWCSEA students wrote: “We feel proud that we are supporting an organization like [XSProject] that is doing vital work to improve the lives of the trash pickers and their families. We were able to finish building the cart with Pak Oman and we are very happy we managed to help a man achieve one of his wishes. Thank you for making our visit memorable.”
The day the UWCSEA students spent at Cirendeu, will long be remembered by Oman, his family, and the entire trash picker community. The six young men learned that even a small service project can be life changing for others. We know they will never forget their experience.