The Jakarta Post
Gone are the days when people had to rely on word-of-mouth to find causes they wanted to volunteer for. With the launch of Indorelawan.org, volunteering for non-profit organizations is simply a click away.
Cofounded by Widharmika Agung, Retha Dungga, Zaki Prabowo and Ari Awan, the website offers a list of 79 non-profit organizations and volunteer activities. Causes range from education to wild animal preservation.
According to Indorelawan.org's director, Marsya Anggia Nashahta, Widharmika was inspired by his wife, who volunteered for a number of causes in the United States through an online service while he continued his studies in the country. He saw an opportunity to set up a similar site in Indonesia, noticing that many of the more privileged residents of Jakarta did not know how to help the needy, Marsya said.
'The founders recognized that urban citizens were willing to help those who needed it as long as there was an opportunity to do so. The website was launched to make it easier to reach out to non-profit organizations that need help,' she said on Sunday.
A survey conducted by the cofounders in 2013 on 174 people in Greater Jakarta showed that 87 percent wanted to volunteer but only 30 percent had done so, largely because of a lack of information.
'Urban communities want to have it easy. They want immediate information or it might discourage them from volunteering at all,' Marsya said.
Although Indorelawan was first launched through social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter in August 2012, the official website, Indorelawan.org, was finally launched in February this year. Marsya said that the website was funded by several investors, including Indonesia's third-largest coal producer PT Indika Energy, textile company PT Multi Sandang Tamajaya, PT Bank OCBC NISP, Yayasan Pendidikan Mandiri and several individuals.
Of the 3,000 people registered on the site, 283 volunteered in the 99 volunteering activities held between January and August this year. Most of the volunteers were university students or professionals between the ages of 20 and 35 residing in Greater Jakarta.
Twenty-eight-year-old Riana Irawati has participated in three volunteering activities since she joined the website half a year ago. She told the Post that she first discovered Indorelawan.org through their Facebook page and registered because she wanted to volunteer and widen her network of contacts.
'I've always thought that if I don't care about these causes then who will? I was annoyed that so many people complain about the situation of the world we live in but don't do anything about it. I wanted to help people,' she said.
The freelance English translator explained that she had also learned many things outside of her field during her volunteer work. She said that she now knew more about how to deal with having a close relative or friend diagnosed with cancer because she had once translated a book on the topic for the Child Leaders of the Nation Foundation (YPAB).
However, Riana said that her interests truly lay in psychology and women's issues, and she recently volunteered as a scribe for a discussion forum for sexually abused women.
'The event opened my eyes to the fact that sexual abuse can happen to anyone. And it really helped me when one of my friends told me that she had experienced sexual abuse because I could give her sound advice on where to go. Before volunteering, I didn't know where sexual abuse victims could seek help, but now I know about LBH Apik [the Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice],' she said.
The founder of the youth movement Pamflet, Afra Suci Ramadhan, said that the establishment of Indorelawan.org was a great idea and made advertising for help easier.
'We registered with them a year ago. I think it's great because it's like a matchmaking agency between non-profit organizations and volunteers. When we need people, all we have to do is put an advertisement on our profile and those who want to join can apply,' she said, adding that Pamflet screened all its volunteers before selecting them.
However, Afra said that Pamflet had yet to work with any volunteers from the website. The organization chose two volunteers not from the website for the last event they held because the applicants from Indorelawan.org were unavailable.
'Many volunteers applied for our event and sent in great resumes and we look forward to accepting volunteers from the website,' Afra said. (fss)
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