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The People


Pak Lukman, fisherman

Pak (Mr) Lukman is a fisherman, who lives with his family in an elevated house on the outer side of the sea wall in Kampung Pojok or Ujung in Jakarta. He was born in the area near the lighthouse. He follows the tides and the state of the sea closely because his life and family depend on it. His house stands above the water. He has to elevate it from time to time. The surface of the sea keeps rising because Jakarta is sinking.

If the residents of the area will be evicted, Lukman says that he will live in a floating house in the sea, while his family moves to a flat.

Lukman loves being an independent fisherman. He doesn’t even want to become like other fishermen he knows.
They get their income mostly from taking people around for fishing trips. According to him, that would restrict his freedom.

Lukman is concerned about the problems of chemical waste in the sea. It affects his catch and makes the seawater so dirty.
He sometimes has to go miles into the ocean to find pollution-free waters. He is a member of a fishermen’s’ association that protests about this issue.

His wife Rifka and daughter Lilis share his lighthearted and laid-back attitude towards things. They joke about their lives, their danger of being evicted, and the amount of garbage below their house, which, according to his wife, is “an income floating around”.


Ibu Sarmini, Jamu lady

Every day Ibu (Mrs) Sarmini goes to work on her motorcycle. To Jalan Tongkol and Kalimati area. She sells jamu twice a day. In the morning and late in the evening. Her customers are mostly truck drivers in transit.
She is pregnant and has already 3 children, all boys. The youngest Zidan is 5 years, can read quite well for his age.
Sarmini wants to work hard and so does her husband to give them all a good education.

Ibu Sarmini is very active and bubbly. She is involved in many activities in her neighborhood. She is part of the Quran reciting group and works as a volunteer in the health center. There they give workshops about the health of mothers and infants.
When there are meetings about community issues, she wants to know what is going on. She even goes to rallies late at night.

To make money aside from selling jamu Ibu Sarmini is very enterprising. Her house is at the edge of Waduk Pluit reservoir, 3 rows away from the water. She rents out part of her house and let people make use of het bathroom for Rp 1000 each time.
But she also collects plastic bottles and sells clothes on credit.

The houses that are very near to the reservoir have been demolished. It looks like Ibu Sarmini’s house will likely be next. However, she feels that she lives far enough from the reservoir that she isn’t really disturbing the functioning of the reservoir. Unlike the 3 rows of houses that are already destroyed. Instead of evicting the people from the area, the government should try and make the area more livable. With running water and garbage management service. That is her ambition. And she is sure it will make a lot of people very happy.

Alda, 12 year old schoolgirl

In a huge fish market in one of the small rooms lives Alda (12) with her mother and stepfather. The fish market is not really a fish market anymore; there are only a few fish sellers left. Pasar Ikan (Old Fishmarket) was built more than 300 hundred years ago, but is now falling apart. Alda and her parents are in the danger of being evicted. Any day everyday.

Sometimes Alda goes to Gang Sampahan, Kebon Tebu, Muara Baru, where her grandmother from her mother’s side, great-grandmother and an older brother live in a simple house. Alda’s family from her mother’s side are from the ‘Betawi’ tribe, which is one of the original inhabitants of Jakarta.

She only just moved to Pasar Ikan after her mother married her stepfather. Most of her stepfather’s family lives in Pasar Ikan. She does not have many friends in the area. Most of her friends live in Muara Baru or are in her school. Alda is a quiet sweet girl and, according to her grandmother, doesn’t ask for much.

She is also said to be good and considerate with money. Alda prefers to save money to buy books and clothes or to give to her grandmother rather than spending it on snacks.

When she is older and grown up, she wants to become a policewoman.

She likes to play in Pasar Ikan, where there are no cars. As a policewoman she can control the traffic and help all children and people to go home quickly and safe.


Sumari, bicycle tour guide Kota tua

Pak (Mr) Sumari works as an Onthel bicycle tour guide for the historical Kota Tua area and has his own business card.
He is proud to be a tourist guide. Every day there are a lot of people from all over Indonesia in Fatahilla square; a famous open-air spot framed by colonial buildings in Old Town area. Everyone likes to hear Sumari’s stories about the old harbor life in the past. It saddens him to see what happens to this area. Old beautiful buildings are going to ruin and walls and roofs are falling down.

Sumari believes that the historical area still has a lot of potential to unlock. For example, he would like to see the now- defunct Kalibaru canal cleaned and working. The smell bothers his customers. One of them told him that if the canal gets cleaned up, it would look like a place in Europe.

His family lives in Jepara, Central Java. Luckily his daughter lives with her husband in a suburb of Jakarta. Pak Sumari is cheerful and likes to joke around. Sometimes he makes fun of other people but in a very friendly manner.
He started out as a bicycle taxi driver in Jakarta in 1980, he moved to the capital. His work peaks on the weekend, and he often takes Monday off to relax, wash his clothes and read books. He visits his family in Jepara every 6 weeks or so, and continues to send them money.

He hopes that people in Jakarta will be proud of their city again, keep it clean and be more appreciative of its history and cultural heritage. He would like to learn English. It is quite frustrating not being able to speak to foreign tourists because sharing his knowledge is what he enjoys most.