Tag Archives: Bukit Batu

YUM photos (Part 2)

Here’s a second set of photos from my time at the Yayasan Usaha Mulia (YUM – the ‘Foundation for Noble Work’). The previous set of photos were mostly about the home garden (Kebun Rumah) and associated projects of YUM Agro. This second set looks at some of the education and health activities of YUM Kalimantan, including the response to the 2015 smoke haze emergency.


One of the primary aims of the home gardens project of YUM Agro is to improve the nutritional quality of family diets through a regular supply of fresh organic vegetables. As an adjunct to this, a series of training modules have been prepared to encourage good cooking habits (e.g. reduced use of salt, MSG and oil), and the provision of balanced diets, especially for expectant mothers, babies and young children.

Classes have been held in all of the many posyandus (local health posts) in the district, with an entertaining and instructive presentation followed by hands-on cooking classes and distribution of booklets with information and recipes. There’s been dozens of these presentations so far, and all have been well attended (by women and children) and also successful.

In the photo above, Ibu Andarini is leading the discussion at the posyandu in Tumbang Tahai village.


Everyone pitches in for the group cooking session – and gets to share in the meal at the end.


The YUM sessions also provide an opportunity for district health staff to check on the health of babies, monitoring their weight and growth, and to administer vaccination shots.


YUM operates at three locations in Bukit Batu district of Central Kalimantan. Two of these are used for the Agro project. But at the third (and main) centre, in Suka Mulya village, there are vocational training facilities and a spacious and well-stocked library and after-school activity centre. There are storytime book readings, and sessions for crafts, drawing and painting, traditional dance training and games.


Towards the end of each afternoon session, the kids line up to each receive a glass of milk. This is an unusual treat for them, and they love it – and they get the benefit of a valuable protein and calcium supplement at the same time.


The after-school sessions are also an opportunity to instil some good lessons about health and hygiene – such as the best technique for cleaning your teeth!


Older kids and adults attend the many classes conducted in the various classrooms of the Vocational Training Centre. Students in the computer classes learn how to perform basic Windows tasks, as well as use of Word, Excel and even Photoshop. Students who successfully complete their courses are awarded a (much-prized!) certificate.


The sewing classes, using classic Singer machines, are also popular. Attendees learn to produce a range of items (including dresses, table, napkins, bags and purses) which are suitable for personal use or sale.


As always, children are also welcome to attend – but perhaps they do so with a little less enthusiasm than their mothers…


Other classes are held in English language tuition, hairdressing and beauty salon techniques, and job-seeking skills. Ibu Litha (above, standing) is leading a class in business and employment skills.


In September and October of last year, the Kalimantan smoke haze emergency caused a halt in all of the ongoing YUM activities. The provincial capital of Palangkaraya had (by far) the worst air quality in the world throughout this period, and there was a massive increase in respiratory diseases, including acute and chronic coughing, throat and chest infections and asthma.

The response of YUM to this crisis was swift, multifaceted and substantial. One strategy entailed the preparation and distribution of ‘care packages’ to many hundreds of the most needy families in the district. Included in each package were N95 face masks, mini oxygen tanks for emergency use, cough medicines, vitamins, milk powder, eye drops and medicines to combat respiratory infection (known in Indonesia as ISPA). Also included were some specially prepared pamphlets about home remedies for ISPA, use of oxygen inhalers, and general advice about the health consequences of long-term exposure to smoke haze (and the importance of wearing face masks). In the photo above, YUM staff stand proudly behind another batch of freshly assembled packages, ready for distribution.


A series of free clinics were conducted in the villages of the district, where doctors from Kalimantan and Java, supported by YUM staff, worked to rapidly diagnose and prescribe treatment for an almost endless line of people suffering from the effects of the smoke haze. The distressed toddler in the photo above is asthmatic, and is being given a Ventolin inhalation to provide some temporary relief. YUM staff member Nana (on the right of the photo) holds her hand and helps to console her.


Clinics were held in all villages, in conjunction with the NGO Dompet Dhuafa, the University of Palangkaraya and the Politeknik Kementerian Kesehatan (POLTEKKES) Palangka Raya. They even made it to Kanarakan village which is only accessible by klotok canoes. In the above photo, the doctor examines a patient in a clinic held in the home of Pak Anden, Kepala Desa (Village Head) of Kanarakan.


Much effort, which continues to this day, was put into education – about the dangers of exposure to the toxic smoke haze from burning peat, about how to minimise the health impact of exposure, and (most importantly) about how the community may work to reduce burning of Kalimantan lands and prevent a recurrence of the horrific smoke haze of the 2015 dry season.

The children in the above photo are posing in their newly received face masks at the end of a puppet show in the YUM Library, during which they were entertained and taught about the importance of wearing face masks in the smoke haze.


There was lots more photography: macro photography, events, studio portraits, product photography, landscapes, botanical documentation etc. During my time at YUM I was given a huge number of photographic assignments and challenges, and I will be always grateful for the opportunities I received.


But, after almost two years, that’s that. Time to get on my bike and ride off into the sunset…

YUM photos (Part I)

As I approach the end of my time working at the Yayasan Usaha Mulia (YUM – ‘Foundation for Noble Work’) I’d like to share a selection of the photos produced in the course of my work there since September 2014. Over that time I’ve made many thousands of photos over 72 separate ‘shoots’ for YUM Kalimantan – but ‘only’ 2729 (at last count) of these have made it into the archive.

Here are some personal favourites, selected because… well I just like them, for a variety of different reasons. Hope you like some of them too. (Note that I haven’t included photos of my wonderful workmates – I’ll save them for another time)

My warm, sincere and profound thanks go to YUM for giving me the opportunity to have these experiences, and to capture these images.


Commuting, Kalimantan-style. This was one of my first days of work at ‘the office’. We went to check on the conditions of home gardens established in the village of Kanarakan, an hour upriver, and only accessible by boat. As we navigated up the Rungan River in our two little klotok canoes through the thick smoke haze, past watchful orangutans in the trees on the river bank, I knew that this job was going to be… different.


So here’s the ‘office’, RC30 (Rural Centre 30), so-called because it is 30km from the centre of the provincial capital of Palangka Raya It is the centre of operations for the YUM AGRO Project. All the field staff and trainers are based there, but they are out-and-about much of the time, so on any given day I will have between zero and ten workmates there.

The site includes ‘model’ organic gardens, chicken hatcheries and coops, a training hall, a modest laboratory, areas for trial of new organic gardening techniques and plant varieties, a seed garden, and ponds for fish farming and production of azolla.

Infrastructure and utilities can be a challenge in Kalimantan. The office is equipped with a generator because of the daily mains power outages, so it usually has electricity. It often has some mobile phone signal, but (sadly) it rarely has internet connectivity. RC30 is a seven kilometre excitement-prone motorbike ride from where we have been living at Rungan Sari (part of Sei Gohong village).


This is the seed garden at RC30, where seed-saving techniques are practised and developed. YUM supplies seeds (all non-hybrid, non-GM) to the almost 500 families in the district who now maintain home gardens under the YUM organic model.


Seeds are beautiful. Wonderful shapes, textures and colours, and all almost bursting with life potential. Here are some from the YUM ‘Seed Bank’, including corn, melons, chili, and varieties of bayam and beans.


The YUM laboratory at RC30 is used to identify, develop and trial treatments for a variety of plant diseases.


And to develop repellents and non-chemical insecticides.


The success and productivity of the YUM-assisted organic home gardens is pretty impressive.

A great deal of effort goes into soil improvement, because the soil in this part of Kalimantan is very poor – mostly consisting of peat or sand. No rich Java-like volcanic soils here! So, under the YUM model, a number of techniques may be used in combination to prepare the soil for vegetable cultivation: compost, bokashi, beneficial fungi (trichoderma and mycorrhiza ), EM4 (effective micoorganisms), worms, biochar, and others.


In all seven of the villages in which YUM works, and across all of the communities, (mostly Dayak, Banjar and Javanese), it is always the women who are the most enthusiastic and diligent gardeners. This is probably because they best appreciate the value of having fresh healthy vegetables for the family to consume.


Some of the more successful home gardeners are able to produce more than they need for home consumption, and want to expand into small-scale commercial agriculture. They are establishing larger gardens, and YUM is assisting by providing advice, accountancy training, distribution and marketing services to assist them.

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This new project is just taking off now, and a pilot is under way with around 20 households signed up to receive weekly supplies of fresh organic vegetables delivered direct to their homes. Speaking as one of those customer households, we can say that the early results are very promising!


As well as the home delivery service, several warung sales points are in the process of being established for direct sales to the local community. Mama Aziz at Tumbang Tahai village operates the first of these. (The banner above her is a JBM design).


A lot of time and effort goes into the development and delivery of comprehensive training for project participants. The training is usually delivered through a series of half-day sessions for newly signed up participants, as well as ‘refresher’ training and advice about new techniques for the ‘experienced gardeners’. They are relaxed and informal affairs, which everyone (trainers and participants) seems to enjoy immensely.


Sometimes there are nearly as many children as adults in attendance at the training sessions!


And while the training goes on, the kids (being kids) enjoy playing in the grounds of RC30.


While his mother was learning how to construct new garden beds, this young fellow seemed a little pensive.


As well as home gardens for the production of vegetables, a new project has started, at the request of project participants, to develop gardens of medicinal plants, known locally as an Apotik Hidup (literally, a ‘Living Pharmacy’). Each garden in the pilot project has been supported by YUM Agro, and supplied with 12 species of medicinal plants.


There is a well-developed project for ‘small animal husbandry’. It’s currently about fish farming and chicken production; an attempt was made with goat farming, but the goats (being goats) didn’t behave themselves, and the project didn’t continue after the pilot.

Fish farming is quite common in this region, with fish raised in purpose-built ponds. In part, it’s a sad response to the declining fish population in the massive river systems of Kalimantan, and the mercury contamination (the result of illegal gold mining activities) of those fish that remain alive. The main fish species produced are Ikan Nila (Nile tilapia – Oreochromis niloticus), Ikan Lele (Catfish – Clarias batrachus) and Ikan Patin (Shark Catfish – Pangasius pangasius).


Most of the chickens sold in the markets here are ayam potong – chickens raised en masse in big ‘factory farm’ sheds. Much more highly regarded are free range village chickens – ayam kampung. They are easy (and kind of fun) to hold in your hands when they are little.


They are more of a handful when they grow to full size, but it is still possible!


Everyone in the family can help with raising chickens!


Azolla is a an aquatic fern with some remarkable properties. In particular, under favourable conditions it can double its biomass within a week, and it is an excellent source of protein. In areas where wet rice cultivation is possible (i.e. not here!) it is often grown as a companion plant to the rice in the flooded paddy because of its nitrogen-fixing properties, YUM has been trialling production of azolla for use as a rich fertiliser, and also as feed for stock. Chickens love it.


Kids outside the posyandu at Tangkiling village. More about posyandus (and other health-related YUM work) and photos of YUM’s educational activities to come in Part II of the YUMmy Photos