I would like to share a story about the changes I have experienced over the last three years (2014-2016). My name is Darini and I come from the village of Karangjati in the Central Javanese district of Banjarnegara. I currently serve as the director of a women’s organization that works to protect women and children in my district from violence. Before taking up this position, I had little awareness about women and children’s rights, domestic violence, village development, and the legislation that affects all of these issues. Despite my close relationship with my children as a housewife. Aside from my domestic responsibilities, I also spent evenings teaching children to read the Qur‘an at my village mosque.
But when I participated in the group study forum in my village run by Mitra Wacana WRC in 2014, I learned so much and my eyes were opened to important issues. I eventually realized that I needed to do something to improve the state of my village. A group of friends and I were inspired to create a Women and Children’s Study Center in my village of Karangjati.
In my own neighborhood, I noticed that many children went unsupervised by their parents. I was moved to bring them together and to offer positive activities for them: group studying, story telling, and discussions about their experiences. As a result of these activities, my village head asked me to represent Karangjati in a sub-district level competition focused on programs facilitating the growth of teenagers in family life. I took home first prize for my presentation on reproductive health education, and then progressed to represent our sub-district at the district level. There, I spoke about supporting the elderly in family life, again winning first prize and advancing to the province level.
I never imagined that I would have the ability, let alone the confidence, for public speaking. In 2015, I was selected by my village government to develop a three-pronged family development program with wings focusing on small children, teenagers, and the elderly. My experience with this program further contributed to my experience and skills. In the same year, I won a public speaking contest at the sub-district level as well as a competition to make posters and comics that promote ending violence against women and children held by Mitra Wacana WRC.
My personal growth has produced positive results for myself and my community, even though I am just a village woman with only a high school equivalency diploma. I hold tight to my life motto: “I want my life to be useful to others, but I should never let myself be used by others.” Alhamdulillah, I now posses the confidence to make my voice heard in discussions about village development planning in order to promote for women and children’s issues. This is how I as a woman participate in development.