The Angels of Cirendeu

The Angels of Cirendeu

XSProject could not work at the trash picker community in Jakarta without a lot of help. This holiday season, as we celebrate family, life, and good will, we would like to tell you about The Angels of Cirendeu. Our “Angels” are trash picker women, mothers, wives, sisters, and cousins to the more than 500 men, women, and children who live at the Cirendeu open garbage dump.

Picture of The Angels of Cirendeu in the XSEducation Kindergarten Classroom.

Our Angels at the XSEducation Kindergarten Classroom.

Wati has been helping XSProject the longest. She has always helped distribute the money XSProject pays to assure the students have a seat in their classroom each semester. She registers the children, pays the school fees, and makes sure the children go to school each day.

Wati is the daughter of Pak (Mr.) and Ibu (Mrs.) Salim. Pak Salim, the head of the first trash picker community, approached XSProject ten years ago to ask for help to educate the children at the garbage dump. Since her father’s passing, Wati is XSProject’s liaison. If families need XSProject to help them, or if there is a problem in the community, Wati is their first point of contact.

Wati’s sister is Supena (Pena). There are so many children under XSProject’s XSEducation program now and they go to 7 different schools in the area. It is more work than Wati can do alone. So, along with Pena and two other Angels, Bedah and Aminah, Wati has help keeping track of which children go to what schools, what grades they are in as well as making payments to the schools. Bedah helps Wati prepare the list of expenses for the school needs so XSProject has the funds available when they are needed.

Some schools have fewer children attending from the community. In those cases, Wati or one of the other Angels will give the money to the parents to take to the school. Wati or Bedah then collect the receipts for the payments. This gives the parents the opportunity to see the school their children attend, to meet the teachers, and reinforces the importance of supporting their children’s education by making sure homework is completed and they have clean uniforms each day.

Picture of The Angels of Cirendeu

Loving Sisters and a Close Family.

Behah and Aminah are sisters. Bedah is the only one in the community who is a college graduate. She is the Librarian at the XSCommunity Center. She keeps the books organized, makes sure the students follow the library rules, are serious about their studies, do their homework, and assists our tutors three afternoons a week.

All four Angels prepare nutritious meals for the children. They help XSProject organize programs in the community such as health check-ups, vaccinations, and building homes or trash carts. If there are problems and/or concerns about an individual child, schools, health, family issues, that XSProject needs to address, all four ladies are always there to help XSProject find solutions.

If you ask General Manager Retno Hapsari how the Angels of Cirendeu help her, she will say, “Do they help me do my job better?
Now I have extra hands to make things run more smoothly at the community.”

The Angels of Cirendeu watch over the Cirendeu trash picker community with care and love for each other and their neighbors. XSProject and the Cirendeu trash pickers are rich in so many ways because of these lovely Angels.

Happy Holidays to all our supporters. Thank you for giving to XSProject in 2017.

An Afternoon at Cirendeu: Visiting with the Trash Pickers

An Afternoon at Cirendeu: Visiting with the Trash Pickers

In October, Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry hosted ten countries for the International E-Waste Management Network (IEMN) in Jakarta. Ministers and environmental experts from countries such as Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand, and the US gathered to share and explore successful models and approaches to managing electronic waste in their respective countries.

Picture of a Woman Sorting Trash

She is Sorting Plastic Cups

While electronic waste was first and foremost on their agenda, photographer Verena Radulovic from the US took time from her schedule to visit XSProject’s workshop, General Manager, Retno Hapsari, and some of the families and students living in the trash picker community.

After a tour of the workshop where our employees make upcycled products from consumer waste, they went to the Cirendeu open dump. Retno explained that the trash pickers are an informal sector, doing what Jakarta’s consumers don’t do; sort their trash into what can be recycled and what gets taken to the garbage dump. Retno explained that, many Indonesians don’t want non-biodegradable/non-recyclable products in their country, but they feel helpless to work with companies that provide consumer product packaging which can neither be returned or recycled.

Picture of 2 Men Sorting Trash

Bags of Sorted Plastics Ready to be Sold

As they were walking through the community in the early afternoon, they came upon a trash picker who had been manually sorting mounds of plastic bottles since 4:00 AM. Retno shared that, if homeowners just separated their plastics, the hours he spent sorting could be reduced and he could use the time to sort other waste (even e-waste), increase his productivity and care for his family.

Our guest learned that trash pickers, like all of us, lead complicated lives. Because of their lack of education and their poverty, their struggles are often defined by decisions like should they take a sick child to the doctor or pick trash to feed the family that day?  As Verena Radulovic said, “They have a million odds stacked against them. We think we understand that they have a tough life. In fact, a trash picker’s life is really, really hard on so many levels.”

Picture of a Child at a Jakarta Garbage Dump

XSProject Educates Trash Picker’s Children

At XSProject, we continue to advocate for Jakarta’s half a million trash pickers with the government and conglomerates that continue to add to Jakarta’s pollution problems. Trash pickers cannot possibly keep up with the amount of waste Jakarta’s consumers throw away each day. At XSProject, we are encouraged by the Indonesian government’s efforts to clean up the environment, waterways, and air quality. Giving recycling jobs to trash pickers would help close the loop of poverty and reduce the amount of waste being deposited in Jakarta’s open garbage dumps. 

If you like this story, please share with your friends and family. By creating awareness about the lives of all trash pickers, we can be their voice and the voice that changes this system.

XSProject’s College Bound Students!

XSProject’s College Bound Students!

In September, two young women in XSProject’s XSEducation program began their first semester at college.

These young women each have a different and unique story. Fitriyah knew that without further education, she could not find a good job. On her own, she visited the college, completed the application for a scholarship and, against all odds, was awarded to partial 4 year scholarship. XSProject is committed to funding the remaining tuition that the scholarship will not cover.
Picture of Nurlela Tutoring StudentsNurlela knows firsthand how difficult it can be to find a job in Jakarta with just a high school education. After graduating, she wanted a job to help support her parents and two younger brothers. While a high school diploma is a huge step for a young person living in extreme poverty, Nurlela learned it only offered the most menial of occupations, making it impossible to improve her family’s condition.
Picture of Fitriyah Tutoring a StudentFitriyah and Nurlela join Sari, the first student to enter XSProject’s college program. She is in her third year working towards an Accounting degree. Sari has changed since attending college. She has become serious about her future, more dedicated, and responsible. Some of the older students at Cirendeu noticed this difference in Sari, but it was Fitriyah and Nurlela who saw the potential. Now they are model examples of success for students in the 2018 high school graduating class.

Not long ago, college was only a dream with no possibility for these girls from the trash picker community. Today, the XSCollege Scholarship Fund is making higher education a reality for youths wanting to study in STEM sciences and Nursing/Medical fields. Students in this program, must keep good grades and work part time for XSProject.
Picture of Sari Tutoring StudentsSince July, all three young women have been working as tutors in the XSEducation Program. Mentored by Miss. Vicky, XSProject’s Early Education teacher, Sari, Fitriyah, and Nurlela tutor the children, check homework, and are fast developing their own maturity, self-confidence, and sense of responsibility.

Please consider making a donation to the XSCollege Scholarship Fund with a one time or recurring monthly donation. Your contribution will provide funding for college degrees in STEM and the Nursing/Medical fields to exceptional students from the Cirendeu trash picker community. Click here to donate now!

When Things Go Wrong

When Things Go Wrong

The daily lives of Jakarta’s trash pickers are the same every day as they make their living picking through trash cans and dumpsters, sorting out anything they can sell just to feed their families. That is, until something goes wrong.
Picture of Sumiyati and Her FamilyIt’s only a matter of time before someone becomes sick. Living at a garbage dump, among the waste, smoke, and methane, illness can be life threatening and affects the whole family. This is what happened to Maran last month when his wife, Sumiyati was diagnosed with acute leukemia.

When she was finally too weak to care for her children, Sumiyati went to the doctor. She was immediately transferred to the large Fatmawati Hospital in Jakarta and given 3 blood transfusions – a total of 27 pints. She stayed in the hospital for two weeks and only Maran could visit her. Her sons waited outside the hospital room, too young to understand why their mother could not come home and take care of them.

Because Sumiyati and Maran’s two boys, Rahmat, who is in the 5th grade and Deden, in the 3rd grade attend school under XSProject, we soon heard about her condition. The baby, Eva, had been sent to live with Sumiyati’s parents in another part of the city because no one could care for her.

Maran does not understand what is happening to his wife. Because he is poor, uneducated, and the hospital bills are mounting, the doctors do not share much information with him. The hospital released Sumiyati with some medication to take daily and instructions to eat better to build up her strength.
Picture of Retno of XSProject With SumiyatiXSProject makes visits to their home to monitor Sumiyati’s condition. Aminah, a neighbor, has been preparing healthy meals until she can get her strength back. The boys continue to attend school but are confused and worried that their mother might die.

XSProject supports more than 100 trash picker families. The progress we have made delivering vaccinations, visits to the dentist and eye doctor, and educating the children to break the poverty cycle is largely the result of our incredibly generous donors.

Saving Sumiyati may be the single most important mission XSProject has undertaken. If you want to make a contribution to XSProject to help Maran, Sumiyati, and their family you can go to:

UPDATE: It is with profound sadness that we share with our XSProject community that on Sunday, September 10, Sumiyati passed away. She leaves her husband, Maran and three children.

Lessons About Recycling From Trash Pickers

Lessons About Recycling From Trash Pickers

Several times a year, XSProject conducts consumer education programs about Jakarta’s trash picker community. During these programs we introduce visitors, schools, and tour groups to what life is like living as a trash picker. The program includes a tour through the garbage dump, seeing the homes that are built on and from trash, and learning how trash picker families coax a meager living out of sorting through people’s trash to survive. The tour has a profound impact on visitors.

Picture of Retno Explaining How Products Are Made

XSProject General Manager, Retno Hapsari, Explains Making Products from Trash to a Tour Group.

Students from schools across Indonesia and Southeast Asia experience life at Jakarta’s Cirendeu garbage dump followed by a trip to XSProject’s workshop where they can help prepare non-biodegradable plastic trash brought to us by trash pickers. They learn how we wash and sort it and are encouraged to assist our employees in this process. Then, they get to see first-hand how the sewers create fun and functional new products that are sold to consumers to help support the Cirendeu community.

Picture of Young Visitors Washing Products.

Young visitors get a chance to wash and prepare the soap pouches before being made into products.

University and post-graduate students visit us as part of a school project or a journalism assignment. What they experience during their trip is expressed in their beautiful and compassionate stories, photos, artwork, and videos which they share with their friends and community when they return home.

Picture of Students Working In Cirendeu Garden

A Group of Students Volunteer to Work in the Cirendeu Garden.

No one speaks better about how trash affects people of poverty than the young mothers in our vocational training program, Cirendeu Handicrafts. These moms never pass up an invitation to sell their jewelry and fabric crafts at school bazaars and international clubs. They look forward to chatting with the public, explaining how they make their handicrafts, and share, with pride, stories about their children who attend school through XSProject’s XSEducation program.

Picture of Students Exploring Cirendeu Handicrafts Paper Beads

Students are fascinated the paper beads made into jewelry by the moms of Cirendeu Handicrafts.

Educating consumers to be mindful of what they purchase as well as what they throw away builds more environmentally conscious communities. If you have an opportunity to visit Jakarta, we hope you will make time to visit us at XSProject. Until then, we encourage everyone to make recycling a habit in your home and community.

Want to do more? You can also make a donation to XProject to help us continue to support Jakarta’s trash picker families, to share their stories, and to give them the tools to improve their lives.

Fitriah Graduates – What’s Next?

Fitriah Graduates – What’s Next?

In our April Newsletter, we featured three of our star students who continue to be star students.

This month we want to give you an update on 19-year-old Fitriah, who has just graduated from high school. She has been enrolled in our XSEducation Program since elementary school.Picture of Fitriah

It is common for the old students to want to go to work right after they graduate high school. When their parents are bringing home $5.00 a day (from picking trash) to feed the entire family, it’s natural for the older children to feel obligated to help their family.

Fitriah had to make that decision, too. After getting counseling from XSProject teacher, Miss Vicky, and talking to some college students, Fitriah did a pretty amazing thing. Though she never mentioned to us, or even to her parents, that she wanted to go to junior college, all by herself, she went to the college and applied for a scholarship. And, because she had good grades, she received a 3-year scholarship!Picture of Fitriah at Registration

College starts September 19. She will be taking classes to get her degree in Public Administration. With this degree, she can be an Office Supervisor, work in the Training or HR departments of a large company, or as the Office Manager in a smaller company.

We are looking for a very generous sponsor to pay the expenses that Fitriah’s scholarship doesn’t. Would you consider helping her? A sponsor can make a tax-deductible contribution to pay $4022 for all 3 years, or $1,340/year.

Fitriah is willing to work too. Miss Vicky has asked Fitriah to help her as a student teacher/tutor to the elementary school students each afternoon. Fitriah’s salary will cover her college incidentals – like cell phone charges and computer time to do homework at the internet café.

We know that Fitriah’s story has a profound impact on the other students from the trash picker community. They want that better education too, so they can find good jobs and be able to move their whole family away from Cirendeu garbage dump and out of poverty.

To help Fitriah, please make a donation to XSEducation.

How Heri Changed His Job, His Life, and His Family

How Heri Changed His Job, His Life, and His Family

Sometimes you just know you can have a better life, a better job, and be a better example to your children and community.

That’s how it was with Pak Heri. Heri lives with his wife, 2 children, and a big extended family of trash pickers in Jakarta. Years ago, before the family moved to the garbage dump and Heri became a trash collector, he had a small food card and sold Mie Ayam (noodles and chicken) street food to earn a living. He always wanted to have his own food cart again – someday.
When XSProject and the Business Club at the Jakarta Intercultural School offered Pak Heri a micro-loan to build a food cart, he didn’t hesitate to accept. This was that opportunity to change his life that he had been hoping for.

In no time, Heri had his own food cart built.Heri & His Mie Ayam Food Cart

Today, Heri is still rising very early in the morning and collecting trash from a small number of homes. While he is out, his wife, Sani, cooks the Mie Ayam and stocks the cart with food. He’s home by 11:00AM to pick up the food cart and is on his way back out by 1:00 PM. He returns home around 9:00PM.

Heri is still not making enough money just from food cart sales to support his family, so he still collects trash to make ends meet. He wants to find a regular spot to park his cart so he can get regular customers and start to build and then expand his business.Heri & Sani With Their Mie Ayam Food Cart

At XSProject, we think Heri is on to something BIG That is why we invite you to help us with something LITTLE: A $10 donation to XSProject is all it takes to help a trash picker like Heri realize his dream of having a small business of his own, to have dignity and enough money to no longer be a trash picker.

One person, one moment, your donation and the gift of a lifetime of change. Little By Little, A Little Becomes A Lot and changes lives in a big way! Visit our XSCommunity page to give what you can today!

After a Late Start – Our Stars Shine Brightly

After a Late Start – Our Stars Shine Brightly

At XSProject, we make every effort to provide a complete K-12 education for the trash picker’s children. Breaking the generational cycle of picking trash in Jakarta is our mission and the earlier the children start, the greater their opportunities are.

But sometimes families arrive at the Cirendeu garbage dump with older children who have never attended school. The parents want their children to have an education, regardless of their age and XSProject is always looking for sponsors to help pay for the educational needs of older students.

Picture of Ardiansyah, Rina, and Fitriah Fitriah, Saroh, and Rina are three of our students, who got late starts with their education but are now shining brightly.

Fitriah, age 19 will graduate from high school this July. She is very aware that to succeed and to make her parents lives easier, she needs to do well in school. Sometimes she studies with her school friends at their homes. She enjoys track and Indonesian pop music. Twelfth Grade students must complete their homework on the computer. So Fitriah often stops at the internet café on her way home from school to finish and submit her assignments.

Saroh and Rina are both 17 years old and in the 10th grade. They both love their teachers, are eager learners and enjoy hanging out with their friends when they can. Their school is not near their homes so they take a motorcycle taxi each day to get to class on time. They both play on the school badminton team and enjoy listening to music, especially “Dangdut” (Indonesian pop music with origins from Hindustani, Malay, and Arabic music).

All three of our “Stars” attend school six days per week. On Sunday’s they help at home with cleaning the house and doing other chores. But school is where their friends and futures are. As Fitriah told us, “If XSProject had not helped me with school expenses and supplies (for) all these years, I probably would not have even finished elementary school”.

To support one of our Shining Stars, please consider making a donation here. Their education not only frees them from the cycle of poverty but also gives relief to the entire family.

Yuni’s Story

Yuni’s Story

Her name is Aryuni but she is called Yuni at the Cirendeu garbage dump in Jakarta where she lives.

When she was in middle school in her village far from Jakarta, she dreamed of a career in nursing, but her family did not have enough money to send her. Instead, her grandfather paid her tuition to attend a sewing school.

After graduation, Yuni worked at many garment factories in and around Jakarta. But, low wages, long hours and poor working conditions forced her to return to her village.

Several years later, Yuni married. With her husband, she returned to Jakarta to once more look for employment. She went back to work at a garment factory where she earned about $100 a month. With both Yuni and her husband working, it almost seemed they could make it…

Yuni is now 35 years old and has two children, both getting their education through the XSProject Education Program. Daughter Ariska is in the 8th Grade and son, Toufan is in kindergarten. Her husband is a trash picker.


As the children got older, working the long hours at the garment factory far from their home was not good for the family. So Yuni left and went to work for a European designer. She spent her days sewing sequins on brocade gowns but her salary was only half of what she had made in the garment factory, about $50 a month.

She heard about XSProject’s Cirendeu Handicrafts program from other mothers at the Cirendeu dump community who were making jewelry and sewing small handicrafts for sale. Yuni joined the group in 2016 and is now making children’s dresses from batik fabric which XSProject sells on our US website. She makes alterations and household items such as curtains for local and expat customers.

Still, the work is not steady enough to have a regular income. Being the resourceful person she is, Yuni has tried to supplement her income by making and selling simple rice and noodle dishes at the schools in the morning and then sewing in the afternoon.

All of the young women and mothers working at Cirendeu Handicrafts would like to have a steady and better income. Sometimes they have a booth at the market to sell their jewelry and fabric wares.

If you would like to help Yuni grow her business by helping her purchase batik fabric and other supplies, or if you want to help the other young women or mothers of Cirendeu Handicrafts, please consider making a donation at on our Donate Today page. Even the smallest contribution has a profound impact on their success. Cirendeu Handicrafts is their business and what they need is a “hand up” toward self-sufficiency and a sustainable income.

Shayna Bell – Photographer

Shayna Bell – Photographer

This month, we introduce you to the beautiful photography of Shayna Bell. Shayna and her family recently moved to Jakarta from the US. Picture of Shayna's Children at the Cirendeu SchoolThe cover photo of this month’s XSNews is a tribute to her skill as a photographer and her compassion and love of children. Recently, she shared how she came to visit the Cirendeu trash picker community in this interview:

“I learned about Cirendeu and XSProject through JIS (Jakarta Intercultural School). I have 2 son’s that go to school there. We helped sponsor some children back in October, but I wanted to do more. I also wanted my children to be involved, and giving cash doesn’t have the same effect as physically seeing who you are helping. I sat down with my kids in November and we looked at (XSProject’s) website and talked about what we could do to help this community and school.

We decided that instead of spending money on the yearly Christmas card that we send to family and friends, we would use that money to buy books and snacks for the kids at the school. My boys helped choose the books (all in Bahasa!) and we made care snack packages with healthy food for the school kids. After getting a date to visit with Retno, we went with her and my kids distributed the goodies and read with the children for a while.

Picture of a Student & Teacher at the Cirendeu SchoolThe smiles on their faces were priceless!! They were so thankful and couldn’t wait to look at the new reading materials! It was such a great day and we learned so much-not only about XSProject but also about these communities and how they work. They really do need help!”

Visit Shayna’s website to see her beautiful work. We are so excited to be working with her!