Do not stop giving your best for the earth, cause this is the only planet with chocolate.
In Dompu, Indonesia, where Yani was born and raised, around 60% of the young population are now alcohol and drug users and losing their educational opportunities, and lives. In the meantime, large-scale corn plantations are destroying forests and expanding profit-driven agriculture. We introduce Yani and his efforts to to create a learning environment for the next generation of young people, to support coffee producers and the local residents through food.
Name ： Yani Aryanto
Community /Country ： Dompu, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia
Whrere I currently live ： Dompu
Age： 32 (born in 1989)
Current Initiatives/Title： Owner of Lanisa Coffee,Founder of WeSAVE Foundation , Community Manager of HAS
About Indonesia & Dompu
Indonesia was a Dutch colony until 70 years ago. It is reported that there are 1,128 groups of indigenous people within a population of 50-60 million. However, it is said that there are many more indigenous communities and groups in the country. Indonesia as a whole is in a situation where it is difficult to claim “indigenous rights’’ due to the liberation from colonial ruling and the government’s view that “all citizens are indigenous”. Dompu is located in the eastern part of Sumbawa Island in the western part of Nusa Tenggara Province in central Indonesia, and is the third-largest town in Sumbawa Island.
Crisis in the village: Alcohol and Drugs among Youth
Indonesia is a country of more than 17,000 islands, and Dombu, where I was born, raised, and still live, is located on the island of Sumbawa. Although it has only been 75 years since Indonesia gained independence from the Dutch colonial rule, the population is 250 million, the second-largest in Asia. We are living with the sad history that the Dutch destroyed many of Dompu’s buildings and historical sites, and also tried to eliminate all of our indigenous history and language during the colonial period.
In my village, Balisatu, nearly 60% of the young people are addicted to alcohol and drugs. Overdoses of painkillers are prevalent among them, here and in neighboring villages as well, gangs are rampant, people riding motorcycles repeatedly fighting with each other.
They carry knives, and teachers are afraid because even telling them to study and do their homework has become difficult.
WeSave Foundation: Empowering People to Dream through English Education
Wanting to do something to improve the environment, I founded WeSave Foundation in 2011 together with my friends. The purpose of the foundation is to provide free English education to anyone who wants to participate and enrich their lives through English education. Learning the language is just a tool to communicate with the youth, and the first priority is to get them involved.
Every weekend, after English class, we take them out to work in the fields at the farm, plant trees, and do plastic waste activities. WeSave Foundation operates without any government support. Teachers are also volunteers and they even contribute with a donation of 50 cents each time we serve a meal to students. We raise funds through beach cleanup activities at places like Lakey beach, which attracts many tourists. We pick plastic waste and sell it to recycling companies. We also encourage students to bring their own plastic waste to class.
The youth of the village are considered terrorists by the locals, and most people avoid engaging with them. Even the parents of the students who participate in the WeSave Foundation activities are skeptical at first, and it is difficult to get the villagers to accept them. However, seeing the young people’s dedication in helping with the work, more and more locals began to accept our activities, and the parents were surprised to see them. We often gather around the table and share a meal together to create a connection. The students set up the banana leaves and the teachers cook.
Most of the children go to public school, but there are some who do not attend school and only come to our English class. By communicating with us, we can help them understand the importance of school. In addition to English classes, we also visit schools and give lectures to inspire the students, telling them that even if they come from poor backgrounds, they can live their own lives depending on their own mindset and efforts and that we did the same for ourselves.
In our classes, we not only teach them English, but we also teach them the value of kindness to their parents and good deeds to their friends, motivating them to open their minds, dream and achieve their goals. As long as every human being is willing to work hard, we all have the same potential.
Supporting the Community through Food
- Preventive Treatment and Beach Farming
I am also involved in a project called HAS (Health Access Sumbawa) working as a community organizer. HAS is an organization that helps people living in remote areas with little access to roads and transportation to get necessary medical care.
The project originally started with the delivery of anti-malaria medicines to people in isolated areas. It then expanded to digging wells to provide safe drinking water and installing toilets, and is now providing nutritious meals and raising awareness about improving dietary habits with the aim of creating an environment for immunity and preventive treatment. Fresh food is scarce and expensive in the remote community of Sumbawa Island. A typical meal consists of white rice and little else. There is not much protein in the daily diet. Children on Sumbawa Island are more susceptible to disease due to their weakened immune systems, and young and pregnant women also suffer from anemia.
In addition to delivering eggs, sweet potatoes, peanuts, etc. to those in need, HAS also worked with residents to grow pesticide-free vegetables at the beach farm. Each household used to grow only green peppers, but by providing opportunities to learn how to grow vegetables and how to build fences to prevent animal damage, more and more people are now growing a variety of vegetables next to their homes.
Concerns about Monoculture
- A Coffee Project that Started with 50kg
In 2016, I started selling coffee beans and running a cafe to support the producers in Tambora Mountain, near my village. In the background, there is a government-led corn plantation. These plantations started around 2010, and Dompu has become one of the most important production areas in Indonesia. However, in reality, 80% of the farmers are in debt due to the installation of large-scale machines and the rent of the farmland. Deforestation is also increasing in the pursuit of profits. In addition, pesticides and chemical fertilizers are flowing into the coffee farms, and the coffee itself is no longer organic.
Given this situation, I decided to start a business that would buy coffee from producers at a fair price, roast it, and sell it. I started with 50 kg of coffee, saying, “Let’s just start small.” There are buyers who try to purchase high-quality coffee at a low price, but the farmers don’t care about the quality, and sometimes they mix unripe coffee with other coffee, or put different varieties together.
In the beginning, the quality was not very high, to be honest, but we were able to increase the quality by building a relationship with the producers and asking them to improve the quality of the coffee and to separate it by variety because we were going to buy 100 kg the next time. As a result, the number of farmers wanting to sell their own coffee to me has gradually increased. My café now can handle only about 200 kg, so I introduced my friends in other villages who can buy from the producers. In the past, coffee from Mt. Tambora did not have a high-quality image, but through this initiative, that has changed dramatically.
Our participation in the 2018 Terra Madre and the introduction of our coffee at the Slow Food event have made us stand out from the locals. We also make and sell inexpensive packs so that people who normally drink industrial coffee with lots of sugar can drink local coffee.
Nevertheless, the policy of conversion to corn farming has not slowed down and is turning forests into bald mountains at an alarming rate, depriving coffee farmers of their opportunities.
We also organized a festival for coffee growers in Tambora to let them know how valuable their produce is and that it has a future, as more and more growers are losing sight of the value of their cherished coffee compared to the incentive crops and are turning to corn.
Passing Food Culture as Identity to the Next Generation
For several years before I started the cafe, I worked at a hospital. English classes were mainly in the afternoons and evenings, so I would sleep in a boarding house, spend the mornings at the hospital, and give English classes in the afternoons. With the limited resources I saved while working at the hospital, I started with only 50 kg of coffee beans, but now I am able to sell 100% organic, traditionally roasted coffee and donate 10% of the profits to charity and those in need.
Food and culture are symbols of one’s ethnicity and place of origin. That is why we have a responsibility to pass on to the next generation the food and culture which is our identity. We also want to make sure that the next generation of Dompu people knows how to cook traditional food, especially timbu (bamboo rice) and other dishes, over a wood fire. We will continue to try to change the mindset of the younger generation, to pass on the good things to people and nature, and to make sure that there will be others after us who will continue this work.
Yani’s “Pride Food”
In the local language we call It Timbu. It is Made out of sticky rice and coconut milk and we enjoy It with black sticky rice which is fermented with sugar. In other places in Indonesia they enjoy It with other ingredients like durian or palm sugar.
Mostly Dompuness having the Timbu in some special days like Muslim day or in the traditional ceremony to complete the food, but people today make it for days because they like to enjoy it for breakfast sometimes or with coffee. I like it because it has very low carbohydrates and is rich in fiber, the taste is deliciously blended with the coconut milk.
Yani’s Personal profile
1989 Born in Dompu, Indonesia, still living in Dompu
2008-2015 Work at a hospital
2011 Found WeSAVE Foundation with friends
2016 Marriage, Start supporting for coffee farmers
2018 Participate in Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, a global food festival held by Slow Food
2018 Open cafe “LANISA COFFEE”
2019 Start as an organizer at HAS (Health Access Sumbawa)
2020 Start of the Beach Farm as part of the HAS project