Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia Carry Out Community Service in the Mentawai Islands

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Since 2017 Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia (AJCUI), along with catholic universities, members of the Catholic Higher Education Association (Asosiasi Perguruan Tinggi Katolik/APTIK), join in a community service program in the Mentawai Islands. The program carried out in the form of coaching the community to manage sources for their income, for example, by processing mangrove fruit into Dodol (an Indonesian sweet, toffee-like sugar palm-based).

The program initiated by APTIK, which is later known as KKN APTIK Peduli Mentawai (KKN APM), or APTIK Comunity Service Program for Mentawai, had a sole mission to improve the region and to develop its potentials. Students participating in the program are required to be able to apply their knowledge in helping the Mentawai community to have a better quality of life.

KKN APM held in Katurei Village, Southwest Siberut District. The participants then split into seven hamlets: the Tiop Hamlet, Matobat Hamlet, Dususn Atateitei Hamlet, Sarausau Hamlet, Makakadut Hamlet, Malilimok Hamlet, and Mapailingen Hamlet. These are also places of the program application designed in the five previous batches.

One of the participants from the first batch explains that the experience not just positively impacted the community. Still, the participants may as well developed in terms of cognitively and mentally.

“The program is promoting the improvement for both sides. Daringness to go out from one’s comfort zone is the beginning to gain an intangible life lesson for a better self quality,” said Christien Dwi Anggreani, Manajemen Program undergraduates of 2014 class.

In 2019, a group of students from multidisciplinary programs created a website based travel agency. The idea was to promote the natural beauty of the Mentawai Islands and at the same time, empowering its community. Rumah Mentawai later receive Hachaton grants from the Goethe Institute.

One of the collaborators, Fransiska Myrna, who happens to be an ex-participant of KKN APM, said that the idea inspires after participating in the program and live with the locals for a month.

“After staying at Mentawai for a month, my friends and I realize that the region struggles to grow. Some of the obstacles are electricity not yet available for twenty-four hours and just how difficult it is to reach the mainland. In our opinion, the Mentawai Islands’ natural beauty and their unique culture have the potential to be expanded,” explained Myrna, AJCUI Industrial Engineering students of 2017 class.

In the making of the Rumah Mentawai program, the team based their design by adopting the fifth principles of Pancasila to enhancing the social welfare of the Mentawai Islands people. By empowering the locals as the first-hand organizer in introducing the island’s rich cultures, history, and sites, the Rumah Mentawai program hoped to solve the financial problem of the community and the social issue in Indonesia.