Feed Indonesia is a Jakarta-based nonprofit organization that uses revenue from donations to distribute food and water to Indonesia’s homeless. “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
“I could be sleeping here and working on the road, and you could be in a big mansion with a fancy car. But I could be happy and you could be sad. Everything is relative.” “And are you happy?” “I’d say so.”
“I’ve been selling these papers ever since I can remember. I never went to school, but I know how to read because I look at them every day. I see everything that happens, every day, right here in my hand. Political campaigns, terrorist attacks, natural disasters… you name it. Everything from the last 30 years. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see my face in there one day.” “What would you be in there for?” “For fighting crime as a famous politician.”
We have been getting concerns about where the plastic from donated water bottles ends up. Well, there are people like this lady who use unwanted recyclables as a source of income. “This is my job. I get about 20c per bag and fill anywhere from 5-8 bags per day. It’s a good incentive because it provides income and keeps our local area clean. We used to see bottles and paper everywhere, but now most people know to leave it with us.”
“I work morning till night, 7 days a week. On a good day I’ll make $4 (40,000 rupiah). On a not-so-good day, I’ll make $1.50. My father can’t walk anymore, he can’t take care of his wife. I see his pride falling every day. So now I take care of him. I pay $10 every fortnight to keep him alive.”
A message from one of the people you’ve helped: “To anyone who has donated, thank you so much”.
“When my three children were born, I became a provider. When my parents became unfit to work, I became the provider. I’m the man in the middle, providing for 5 others.”
Children. You don’t get to hear their story and you don’t get a memorable quote. But they never hide their emotion and their facial expression tells you all you need to know.
One of the major causes of malnourishment amongst Indonesia’s homeless is protein deficiency. This causes stunted growth and delayed mental development. Even more so, there is a general misconception about protein sources, and most people believe they get sufficient protein through their vegetables. Yet the vegetables they eat only contain about 14% protein composition. “What do you eat?” “Rice and vegetables. Lots of rice and vegetables.” “Don’t you eat chicken or beef?” “Very rarely.” “But where do you get your protein?” “The vegetables.”
The sound of passing trains was so loud that it’s hard to believe that people sleep, learn and work by them. According to numerous studies, people who sleep to the sound of trains have constant ‘microarousals’ throughout the night, waking up without realizing it. It’s an effect similar to snoring, and it means the body is sleep deprived. What’s alarming however, is that children who live near trains are almost always smaller than those who don’t. They are sleep deprived and their growth is stunted. “We’re already used to it. I can’t even hear the trains anymore. It’s been a part of my life for a long time, and it doesn’t bother us at all. We sleep well and can concentrate throughout the day. The baby too, he doesn’t even cry at night.”
When we distribute food, it’s often hard to distinguish between who really needs it and who just wants it. This man was more than helpful in showing us those most in need, as we delivered food to people living on train tracks. “Yes, I can take you to the poorest people. Those who don’t have a place to call their own.” Over the next few days we’ll take you to where they live. We’ll show you their homes, their lives and their stories.
“When I first found out I had an eye infection, I was helpless. Everyday I would get more blind. My left eye has completely lost all vision, and the disease is starting to spread to the back of my brain. Treatment was never an option, I simply can’t afford it. I don’t own a shirt or shoes, but I don’t think I need them. There are more important things. I have 10 children who rely on me and I’ve worked hard to make sure they have a life. Now it’s their turn to look after me.”
Today we distributed food to people living on and around train tracks. We were being guided by this lady, when all of a sudden there were shouts to get off the tracks. A train was coming. The sound was so loud that we couldn’t hear each other’s voices. We were standing just one metre away, and the force from the train seemed to push us back. “Yes, some of the children get hit, and die. They simply don’t know what is dangerous yet. If a child is bitten by a dog, they learn to never approach the dog again. But if a child is hit by a train, there is no second chance.”
We noticed an interesting trend. Most women, especially elderly mothers, decline the opportunity to be photographed. When asked why, most say that they’re no longer considered beautiful and would prefer their face not be shown to other people (despite us insisting that they’re still beautiful people). So why was this woman happy to be photographed? “I am still young”.
“I don’t get to keep all the money I get from selling tissues.”
“I know they hate it, but I nag the drivers of more expensive cars, because I know that buying a doll is a small deed for them.” “Does nagging usually work?” “Rarely. They’re good at ignoring people.”
“Even though it’s hot, I wear all these layers to keep my skin healthy. I work all day under the sun, selling these dolls to cars that pass by. This food package means more than you could imagine. Maybe half a day’s work.”