In Indonesia, discrimination against former leprosy patients often occurs, particularly in the workplace. The stigma of disgust and its disease transmission are the factors that cause them to live in one area. Kampung Kusta Sitanala is one of the well-known areas where the former patients live. This area is located behind RS Sitanala, a special hospital for leprosy patients in the satellite city of Tangerang.

However, this colony is very problematic because most of the residents in that village don’t have a proper job due to the discrimination. In RT 01, for instance, most of them work as a beggar, sweeper, pedicab driver, laundry worker, and even unemployed. Ironically, the land where they live is the government’s land, meaning that anytime they can be evicted from their land.

Many social projects have been conducted, but mostly were not sustainable. To build their confidence and independence, providing basic foods or discharged once goods is not enough. We should give them an entrepreneurship skill to build independent character.

To attain the goal, we can learn from UI students who joined Indonesia Leadership Program (ILP), a program for the outstanding students at UI to hone social sensitivity. Unlike the previous programs, inspired by Muhammad Yunus, a  social business entrepreneur who got Nobel Peace Prize, ILP initiated to run a social-business project in Kampung Kusta Sitanala named ‘Nalacity’. They provided training to make beaded scarfs (hijab) to the mothers in Sitanala, and helped them create a local independent company. The students have accompanied the former patients to improve their creativity and competence for two years. After the completion of the program, the mothers are supposed to run their business independently.

This program is an exemplary program for other youths who wants to contribute to the marginal people. Nothing is more valuable than our concrete action to empower them to be more independent (*)

Alfi Syahriyani

The writer is an alumni of Faculty of Humanities, English Studies, UI. Nalacity Team.