UNGARAN, BINADESA.ORG – The Sunday morning trip (18/09) from Semarang the capital of Central Java to Ungaran feels fast with the light traffic and cloudy weather. This visitation is by the invitation of the Institute of Business Assistance for Workers, Farmers, and Fisher Folks (LPUBTN) in commemoration of the institution’s 56th anniversary. One of the founders of this organization is (late) John Dijkstra SJ, who is known as a populist priest, with a myriad of ideas to empower of the poor.
For a more solemn touch, the event begins with nyekar (funeral visitation) in Giri Sonta, Ungaran, Semarang regency, followed by a workshop with the theme, “John Dijkstra’s Thoughts in the 21st Century.” The event was held inside the complex of Giri Sonta. On this occasion, Advocacy, Research, and Networking Coordinator Achmad Yakub with Nining E. Fitri (Research Staff) got a good chance to represent Bina Desa.
“Crazy,” that’s how Bambang Ismawan’s view while recollecting memories of Dijkstra in 1963. “How could I not, I was preparing for final test to finish my study in the Faculty of Economics UGM, the test was immediately requested to be postponed because there are more important things,” said Bambang. The important thing that Dijkstra meant was to attend a workshop in Bangkok. Even crazier, he had to leave that same afternoon, told Bambang.
The story continues, several years later around 1971-1977 Dijkstra was assigned in the Philippines as secretary of SELA (Socio-Economic Life in Asia). At that time, he traveled around Asia a lot to see government in various countries who limit the role of the people to undergo democracy and tend to be authoritarian. Decades of experience in the villages of Java, especially in Yogyakarta and Central Java, and networks in many Asian countries inspired him to initiate large meetings for rural social workers. The gathering of 130 people in Bangkok from Asia Pacific (15 people from Indonesia) for three weeks in 1974, was named by The Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia Workshop (DHRRAW). Since then, born the DHRRA in various countries such as Indonesia-INDHRRRA (Bina Desa), PhilDHRRA, KODHRRA (Korea), THAIDHRRA, MASDHRRA (Malaysia), Taiwan, as well as in other countries. These organizations established independently, separated from SELA, and are proven to be growing. In Indonesia alone, the networks widespread, along with Bambang Ismawan (formerly Chairman of Pancasila Farmers Association-IPP), Prof. Sajogyo, Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) and other figures. This expands rural human development and strengthens the relation among social activists.
Other Dijkstra’s madness is the idea so daring and fundamental, that is to give ample room for peasants in the village to speak, argue, and help themselves when it is very rarely the elites gave the opportunity. The idea was later known as SWABINA. Because anything that could help poor farmers is himself. “Dijkstra’s faith in the noble values within society in the form of mutual cooperation, which is a deliberation as a way for marginalized people to rise up,” said Bambang. According to the records of people who’ve long wrestled together along Dijkstra, two words that became his trademarks were “crazy” and “bastard” generally expressed with laughter. These two words he learned from a Javanese and Malay teacher when he was in Holland before coming to Indonesia, and from the trademarks, many people recalled the good favors he had done.
Separately, Francis Wahono talked about Dijkstra’s idea, referring to the publication of Bina Desa, said the foundation being built, “…was functionally limited to promote social space among people with goodwill on the side of the underprivileged. If there is any foundation that depletes our resources, funding, possessions, it’s all for the sake of carrying out the mission. That is perhaps the basis and framework of deliberation.”
“For us young people, a generation separated half a century from Dijkstra, that the idea and thoughts of the founders are still preserved up to now is something to be grateful for. Organization and partiality to the poor like the one Djikstra demonstrated, becomes important at this time and is a source of inspiration and spirit,” expressed Achmad Yakub. (###)