UNS — University students are one of the agents of change that could contribute to the development of the community and the country in the future. Many means are available for university students to apply this role, including what Mochamad Akbar Raihan, a student of Local Literature Program Faculty of Cultural Studies (FIB) Universitas Sebelas Maret (UNS) Surakarta, did in Pejuang Muda Ministry of Social Affairs (Kemensos) of the Republic of Indonesia (RI) program who shared his experiences with uns.ac.id.
Akbar explained that he was sent to Ogan Komering Ulu (OKU) District, South Sumatera, for two months, from 27 October to 23 December 2021. With the other six students from Universitas Prima Indonesia, Sekolah Tinggi Ilmu Administrasi Negara Palembang, and Universitas Sriwijaya, they stayed in OKU District Social Office’s accommodation. Their programs covered Baturaja Barat, Baturaja Timur, and Lubuk Batang Subdistricts.
“In total, there were 14 and 15 villages that we need to survey,” Akbar said on Monday (10/1/2022).
Akbar and the team had two programs, verification and validation of integrated data for social welfare and a team-based project. The first task was similar to a population census that focused on people receiving social aids from Kemensos.
“The survey was held using the Sagis application. We visited the people one by one at their houses, and we checked if they still live in that place, then how is their current economic condition. While in the team-based project, we conducted MSMEs development,” Akbar stated.
Their team-based project was implemented by building networking among MSMEs in OKU and several small pieces of training for MSMEs empowerment. In this program, they tried to find a sponsor from the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities of companies in Baturaja.
“The program aimed at MSMEs empowerment to connect entrepreneurs with other parties to create an active and large business environment. However, the limited time and resources made us reach only one business, Bubuk Jahe Tomosa, from Bapak Zega in Terusan Village, Baturaja Timur Subdistrict,” Akbar added.
During the two months of the program, Akbar went through various experiences because their activities run all day, including Saturday and Sunday, in different places. Akbar stated that although it seemed demanding, he and his friends enjoyed the whole experience because they could travel and meet people who gave them knowledge, and they couldn’t learn in class. “Those are priceless life lessons,” he said.
One of his most previous experiences was when they needed to visit a house in the middle of a cornfield, and the only access was a one-hour footpath between corns and hillside. “When we arrived, the homeowner was very friendly and worried for us who came from far walking. In the house, there was a school child. I could not imagine how they go out for school with such struggle. There is also a hidden gem, in the middle of that cornfield, there is a small river with clean and fresh water,” he said.
OKU has rich diversities, languages, ethnicities, and cultures. This condition made Akbar learn new experiences to blend in with the community.
“The languages are Palembang, Ogan, Komering, Melayu, to Javanese. There are many locals who are from Java and transmigrated there,” he said.
The ethnicities living in the district are Ogan, Komering and Daya, Chinese, Javanese, Batak, to Minang. But Akbar stated that he did not experience a cultural shock. “Only new exciting stories. For example, many people are still showering in the river, even rivers in Baturaja, then trying foods that we had never tried before. And of course, learning many new things and local languages there,” Akbar added.
Akbar hoped that the program could provide a solution for the community, both receiving helps from Kemensos and those who have not received it.
“The hope for myself, hopefully becoming more aware of the community and the existing social issues. Moreover, as students, as the agent of change, there are many opportunities to do positive stud that bring changes in the future,” he hoped. Humas UNS
Reporter: Bayu Aji Prasetya
Editor: Dwi Hastuti