From the cradle to the
grave, life (and death)
never easy for the poor
people of Jakarta

Huddled together: Five family members share a grave at Karet Bivak Cemetery in Central Jakarta. JP/Kili Pringgodigdo
Huddled together: Five family members share a grave at Karet Bivak Cemetery in Central Jakarta. JP/Kili Pringgodigdo

In a country where the state lets its citizens fend for themselves, life for the poor is hard.
Death is not easy as well, especially when one does not have family of friends.
Renting a hearse alone can cost one up to Rp 600,000. The service can cost at least Rp 2.5 million, not including the plot at a cemetery.
Oyon, supervisor of the morgue at Cipto Mangunkusumo hos-
pital in Central Jakarta said the morgue received 60  to 70 corpses
a month.
“Sometimes we receive unidentified bodies. We will wait for three days until we hear from their family before burying them,” Oyon said.
He said they often used the cemetery at Kampung Kandang in South Jakarta.
Nurul and Ica, both fourth-year medical students of the University of Indonesia, said medical students used cadavers for study.
To their knowledge, the cadavers come from bodies that have been in Cipto Mangunkusumo morgue’s fridge for at least two years without anyone claiming them.
The bodies can be used more than once, they said.
Yudi Budiningsih, head of the forensic department at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital was not available for confirmation, while the medical doctors were not willing to comment.
Poor people who have family
and friends are now better off when they die. In the capital, there
are several foundations for the deceased allocating money to such residents.
Rentje Langkun, manager of the funeral service foundation at St. Carolus Hospital in Central Jakarta, said the funeral home served poor people.
Carolus provides the services — from washing the body to providing the hearse and cemetry plot — free of any charges.
Rentje said the funeral home needed letters from the residential unit heads stating the families’ financial situation to proceed with the service free of charge.
Santo Yusuf, a Catholic funeral foundation located in Jelambar, West Jakarta, also provides services for the poor.
The money comes from wealthier members who pay but do not use the service at the end of the day.
“Some members, especially rich ones, do not use the service when their family members die, so we use the funds to subsidize poor members,” said Andi Basuki from the foundation.
Another foundation, Yayasan Bunga Kamboja, also applies a similar system to provide services for the poor. They call it cross-subsidy.
However, segregation that comes from being poor is experienced even after death,
Nana and Jali, tomb cleaners at the Karet public cemetery in Central Jakarta, said poor people had their own block in the back of the cemetery.
They receive two to three deceased people a month from poor families, they said.
Indeed, the price of land keeps increasing in Jakarta.
Some residents have to share one tomb with others.
In Karet cemetery, for example. many tombs are like small apartments for one family. One tomb had five names written: Bujang Saibun — 1959, Saibun — 1969, Priyanto — 1974, Enong — 1986, Sugianto — 2009. (iwp)

— JP/Desy Nurhayati

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