BBC Visits FMCH Indonesia

On 10th March 2013, FMCH Indonesia welcomed the BBC film crew making the follow-up to their hugely popular ‘Toughest Place to be a….’ series including Wilbur Ramirez, the charismatic London binman, singer and now, philanthropist, who was the focus of the first programme.

In the first programme 18 months ago, Wilbur Ramirez spent ten days living and working as one of the army of semi-destitute binmen who collect rubbish in Jakarta, one of the biggest and fastest growing cities in the world. During his stay Wilbur joined Jakarta-based binman, Imam Saffi, on his back-breaking daily round as he collected the rubbish of Jakarta’s wealthy and discovered the poverty and squalor of life next to a fly-ridden tip.

Since his return to London, Wilbur raised money to help the Jakarta binmen and met with Barbara Jayson MBE, founder of the Foundation of Mother and Child Health, to talk about how FMCH Indonesia can use this money to help Imam’s community, in Central Jakarta.

When Wilbur returned to Jakarta in March this year, he wanted to meet the FMCH Indonesia team to see our work and what we can do to help marginalized families in Imam’s community. He was joined by the series producer and director Simon Davies, cameraman, Luke, and their team. Founder, Barbara Jayson, also joined Wilbur and the film crew.

Day One

On a hot afternoon on Sunday 10 March, Wilbur and the team came to visit our mother-and-child centre in Jakarta to see how we can work together to help improve the lives of Imam’s community. He first met Nur Febriani, FMCH Indonesia’s Programme Manager, known here as Febri. She welcomed him, gave him a cold drink and then talked about our organization and our work.

She then invited him to join her and one of our team members, Pak Woto, to go to a rubbish collectors’ community we work with, close by in South Jakarta. This community of 300 families relies on vulnerable income and faces many challenges including lack of access to good healthcare and education for pre-primary school age children.

One of the weekly activities in this community, is a visit by Pak Woto, one of our Early Learning Centre teachers, who takes a Smart Cart filled in with books for the kids there. The aims are to increase the reading interest of the children and to tell stories or give a puppet show, with important health messages. The day Wilbur visited was hot and the Smart Cart was very heavy, so Wilbur kindly offered to push the cart to the community. On the way, he, Febri and Pak Woto talked more about the issues facing families living in poor, urban communities.

When they arrived at the community, they were met by a large crowd of children, excited to see Pak Woto, but more excited to see Wilbur for his first visit. In the heat and humidity, Wilbur valiantly pushed the Smart Cart through the small, crowded alleyways in the community to the mosque, where the storytelling happens.

After a rousing puppet show by Pak Woto, explaining the benefits of washing hands, Wilbur joined all the children in the mosque to read ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to them. From the first word, the children were enthralled and squealing with excitement as Wilbur read them the story, with great animation. Several mothers looked through the windows, beaming widely.

The visit touched not only Wilbur, but also the film crew, as they shook hands with all the children when it was time to leave. On the way back, Wilbur talked with Febri about what he had seen and experienced and the issues facing this, and Imam’s community. When everyone arrived back at FMCH Indonesia, Wilbur then presented Febri with a cheque for 3,000 UK pounds which he had raised to fund a programme to work with Imam’s community.

Day Two

On Tuesday 12th March, Wilbur and the BBC team joined Febri, Barbara and FMCH Indonesia’s team including our health educators and doctor. Our approach when first working with a community is to visit the community to see their living conditions and challenges. We then conduct a needs assessment with the community, to hear from them what challenges they are facing. We invite the community to come and talk through the issues they face and how we can help.

About 30 men and women from Imam’s community came to Karang Taruna office in Guntur District, in North Jakarta. The discussion was started by Febri, explaining the work of FMCH Indonesia. Then it was continued by our senior Health Educator, Nur Akmalia. She facilitated the discussion to find the problems faced by the community. Issues discussed included lack of personal hygiene, diseases and injuries related to their work as binmen, and lack of activities for women in the day. At the end of the discussion, the community asked for us to work with them providing two main activities: health education and skill training for women.

We plan to start work in Imam’s community in June 2013 and will start with coordination with the local government, continued by direct implementation with the community. Everyone at FMCH Indonesia would like to sincerely thank Wilbur, Simon, Luke, Shinta and Bobby for their time and patience with us during the filming and for this great opportunity to share our work.