Problem solvers needed   Saturday, October 15, 2005

Since the government raised fuel prices on Oct, 1 things have gotten worse for many people. For the poor, life has become even more difficult, as they struggle to survive amid rising prices and higher public transportation fares.

Despite the demonstrations against the policy, and the endless pulic debate, the government has refused to back down from what it says is a necessary step to save the economy

While public transportation users grumble over higher fares, car owners are spending twice as much as they used to on gas.

These circumstances prompted Tangerang resident Rudiyanto and his fiancee Sylvia to set up a website to help connect people who want to carpool

Rudyanto said that by carpooling people could save money on gas, as well as helping to reduce traffic by taking cars off the road.

To date, the website has registered about 1.400 people who need rides and about 560 car owners who are willing to share their vehicles.

Most of people, especially those who live in housing complexes outside the capital, are familiar with the idea of carpooling. But it was Rudyanto who had the idea of developing that kind of cooperation nationwide through the website.

The government's inability to address the increasing economic hardships being faced by people has prompted more individuals and institutions to come up with creative ideas to help people get through these testing times.

Rudyanto and Sylvia certainly deserve praise for their website, as do several reality show aired by private television stations that help the poor.

In the reality show Rejeki Nomplok (Unexpected Fortune), a producers select one poor person to receive Rp. 5 million. This person can then choose to use the money to repair his or her house, to pay off debts, to pay his or her children's school fees or as start-up capital for a small business.

The show Pulang Kampung (Going home) helps unemployed migrants living in Jakarta afford to move back home. Most of the people on the show accept the offer, coming as it does with at least Rp. 2 million in cash and various gifts from the sponsors.

Of course, reality shows such as these would not succed if the sponsors and producers were not making money from them. Nevertheless, these shows do help people who have slipped through the cracks and are untouched by any government social safety net programs

While discussions, seminars and academic debates have done little to address the problems of urbanization, Pulang Kampung takes real action to help some of the victims of urbanization.

Whether or not we like this reality shows, we have to acknowledge that the people behind them deserve recognition for their efforts to help people.

While the government remains unable to provide real help for people, especially the poor, more creative individuals and institutions are needed to come up with innovative concepts to fill the holes left by government.

Maybe Rudyanto and the producers of the TV reality shows have helped relatively few people, but still their efforts are significant.

If the government cannot address the day-to-day needs of the people, it is time for all Indonesians to join hands to solve their own problems.

ndonesia does not need more street demonstrations, political debates and empty promises. What the country needs are more people who are willing and able to help solve the problems we are all facing.

Sumber Berita: The Jakarta Post (Saturday, October 15, 2005)

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