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One day in early 2010, Budi Setiawan aka Bukik was reading a book titled Totto-chan to his daughter, Ayunda Damai Fatmarani, when she was 3 years old.
Two days later, Damai was able to reformulate the story, composing a yarn based on her personal experiences with Totto-chan as the protagonist. Amazed by Damai’s ability, her mother secretly recorded her telling the story using a mobile phone.
“On July 23, 2010, I shared on a social network site about how powerful story-telling could be and uploaded the recording of Damai telling her story,” Bukik said.
Bukik received several responses and one of his friends came up with idea of creating a collection of stories for children using a series of MP3 files (podcasts).
Based on that idea Bukik contacted a number of friends, many of whom fell in love with the idea and from that Indonesia Bercerita (Story-telling Indonesia) was born.
IndonesiaBercerita.org was launched on Oct. 28, 2010, by Bukik, Rudi Cahyono, Nindia Nurmayasari, Mohamad Zulkarnain and Imam Muttaqin.
“We are trying to sustain the practice of storytelling in parenting and educational practices which seems to be becoming increasingly rare,” he said.
“Our targets are parents, teachers, and children’s companions. By using podcasts, we hope to help them learn the stories and retell them, although in practice, our podcasts are listened to mainly by children,” Bukik said.
Now 105 stories have been uploaded and are ready to be downloaded and listened to, such as Bebek Ingin Terbang (The Duck who Wants to Fly), Dongeng Singa dan Tikus (The Tale of the Lion and Mouse) and The Rolling Rice Balls.
Community members can upload children’s stories as texts or in MP3 format. They can also download, duplicate and spread any of the stories form the website though not for profit, of course.
The community has branches in nine cities: Jakarta, Semarang, Bandung, Surabaya, Lampung, Magetan, Makassar, Malang and Palembang.
“Community’s members in Twitter and Facebook have reached 9,200 and 5,100,” Bukik said.
For funding, Indonesia Bercerita is entirely dependent on donations for their products and services sales. They produce books of stories by their contributors and sell dolls. Bercerita also runs popular storytelling workshops.
Rahadian, one of the website’s users, told us how his 4-year-old child, Yara, is very contented and captivated by the stories from the website. Previously, Rahadian said, Yara only listened to adults’ songs. “Now she can follow the stories from my mobile phone. Thanks, Indonesia Bercerita!” Rahadian wrote.
Ratih Widyastuti in her masters’ thesis on storytelling in kindergarten concluded that including podcasts from Indonesia Bercerita in the curriculum improved the creativity of kindergarten students.
“Storytelling provides a means to build the imagination. Imagination is the keystone of the creative process,” she said.
Ratih said that kindergarten-aged of students should be given stimulation to reinforce their imagination. When they are burdened only by academic demands, creativity will not grow.