On August 26, 2023, joy and gratitude filled the air at the Tzu Chi Great Love Village in Jakarta, in West Java, Indonesia. Tzu Chi volunteers, members, and villagers gathered in the auditorium of the Great Love School Kindergarten to celebrate the "20th Anniversary of Tzu Chi Great Love Village in Cengkareng." To honor the 20-year history of the Great Love Village, Jakarta's Acting Governor, Heru Budi Hartono, graced the occasion and joined in the festivities.
Grateful for Tzu Chi's Companionship
Acting Governor Heru, dressed casually, participated in the 20th anniversary celebration of Tzu Chi's Great Love Village. He said that it was not a matter of disrespect but rather a reflection of many memories from the past. He recounted: "Why am I dressed today in a white polo shirt, jeans, black shoes, and without socks? It's because back in 2002 during the Jakarta floods, this is how we dressed when we went door-to-door to care for the people."
He recalled the time when he served as a team leader for the North Jakarta government. At that time, Tzu Chi, led by volunteers like Sugianto Kusuma (郭再源), Franky Oesman Widjaja (黃榮年), Hong Tjhin (陳豐靈), and others proposed a collaboration with the government to assist in rehabilitating those living close to the Kali Angke River and building the Great Love Village. In 2002, floods had washed away many homes of those living close to the river.
Heru mentioned that, during a house-to-house campaign to promote the river rehabilitation plan, some residents were willing to participate, while others did not respond, and some even opposed it. He recalled: "Three months after the flood, residents needed homes, but the government did not have a budget to build houses. The government's plan was to provide a seven-month rental subsidy to the residents to give them temporary shelters. However, Sugianto Kusuma, Franky Oesman Widjaja, and other volunteers proposed to build houses for the residents. We are truly grateful that Tzu Chi was willing to assist in constructing the Great Love Village, which is why we can all gather here today."
"Seven months later, we met again, and the residents wanted to visit the Tzu Chi Great Love Village. So we took turns with Tzu Chi volunteers to bring them here for a tour. At that time, the data showed there were 15,000 households. I believe this is Indonesia's largest charity project, and it has helped address the flood risks in Jakarta. Thanks to everyone's efforts, the Kali Angke River, originally 15 meters wide, has now expanded to 40 to 60 meters in different sections," Heru said in expressing his gratitude.
Seeing the results of this Hope Project, and having been personally involved, Heru was deeply moved, especially when he saw how education has transformed the lives of the villagers. Children who were under the age of ten at the time are now self-reliant, and working towards their life goals. Some have become engineers, police officers, civil servants, and even serve in government departments.
He concluded: "I want to take this opportunity to apologize if I was disrespectful to any of you twenty years ago because many residents were not welcoming of my presence during the relocation. However, with Tzu Chi's long-term companionship, the children from back then have grown up and become outstanding talents. I would like to congratulate all the villagers. I am deeply moved and thankful for the dedication of Tzu Chi volunteers."
A Jing Si Aphorism says: “Serving others without reluctance and putting in hard work can bring a sense of peace and joy without seeking future rewards.”
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STORY BY METTA WULANDARI