The Female Leaders from a Land of Conflict

Our country leader for Indonesia, Agustina, writes about her and her colleague Widya’s life growing up in a conflict situation and how they have become strong female leaders brining positive environmental change. We call home a place called Aceh: the westernmost province in Indonesia. Far away from any city, we grew up in a village. […]

Our country leader for Indonesia, Agustina, writes about her and her colleague Widya’s life growing up in a conflict situation and how they have become strong female leaders brining positive environmental change.

We call home a place called Aceh: the westernmost province in Indonesia. Far away from any city, we grew up in a village. We were born in the period of conflict in our country. It was so unfortunate that from 1976 until 2005 we had the bloody dark history for Aceh and Indonesia. Almost every day we saw people killed by guns or in some other way.

Our story started when we realised that we have so much pain in our life. During the conflict, we didn’t talk about the inequality, we couldn’t worry about that when every day we were on the verge of dying. Widya saw it all.  Her family was tortured; showered by fuel and almost burned by the army.  Her friends were also killed due to the conflict and one of her best friends was decapitated. When Widya came to her house to open the door, her head just rolled onto her leg. Widya was still in elementary school at the time and it still haunts her dreams.

Undeterred

My village did not escape the violence either, and a lot of people died for no reason. I saw people die in front of my eyes, shot, and the body just left on the street.  Then, some years years after the conflict period in Aceh, 13th January 2011, I lost my house. Some irresponsible people destroyed and burned it to the ground. It was a hard time for me and it added salt to the wound. I didn’t receive any justice and me and my family were expelled from our hometown. However, that didn’t deter me. At my young age I became active teaching little children. I transformed my home into a learning centre. So after school, they could come to my house and do homework together. I provided them with books, I taught them traditional dance and so on. Because I am a woman and very active as a leader, there were people who didn’t like me. They saw it as a threat that a woman could be a leader. I didn’t understand at the time until our public lawyer told me. People just hated my family and me, so they threatened to kill us if we went back there.

What Did We Do Wrong?

Widya and I always wondered what we did wrong that people came to hate our family. But this didn’t turn us into people with anger. We stopped wondering and accepted that struggle we are involved in is for a reason. And the reason is to unite people and spread kindness.  It’s difficult for us to be leaders in our hometown when the majority still live in a conservative way. Women can’t be the leaders, they have to live with the norm and stick to traditions, which dictate that women should always obey the men. Women and men are not equal. Women are always getting pressured by men. When I took off my hijab (scarf), I was discriminated against by people, and one by one lost my friends from my childhood, school and university, because they didn’t want to associate with me. I have lost many friends during the conflict and after the conflict, but I don’t want to lose the passion to have a better world to live in. So here we are, after we moved to the capital city in Indonesia, Jakarta, we decided to join Let’s Do It! World, where we are able to unite our vision saving the planet. People from all sexes, backgrounds, religions, and ethnic groups can have similar actions, similar contributions while respecting each other. Through this movement we hope that we could bring peace in our beloved country Indonesia.

1,340 ethnicities and 1,158 languages

It is quite a complicated matter when there are about 260 million people, with 1,340 ethnicities and 1,158 languages that need to be guided to do a collective action. Religion is a sensitive issue in our country. To talk about peace we need to find the best tools, and LDI World movement can be the reason why people need to unite and to do something for this planet, no matter what is your background, you need to take care of this planet. We live on the same land, breathe the same air, and share the same water in this Earth. It is clear that we can unite everybody through the Let’s Do It! World mission.

We do understand it’s a big challenge for us to unite 5% of 260 million people that spread out to more than 16.000 islands around Indonesia. But we are ready to join the world community and prepare the best for the World Cleanup Day on 15 September 2018.

For me, Let’s Do It! World movement is more than an event or an activity, but it has become a vehicle to unite, reconcile people to think beyond diversity, religions, and backgrounds.

More about Let’s Do It! Indonesia.