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Up Close and Personal With Abid.

Rusunawa Jatinegara Barat

Abid and his family were a part of the Pulo Village relocation program, led by the government under governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), to relocate residence of the Pulo village from the surrounding area of the Ciliwung riverbank to the rusunawas in 2015. Not all the residents of the Pulo Village were relocated, but only some of those who were relocated had violated the land use. Abid now lives at the rusunawa with his two younger siblings and his parents.

abid photo

Katie Sondakh Photograph of Abid working on schoolwork in the learning center | Jakarta, Indonesia, 2021

Abid’s parents used to work selling clothes, earning about rp50,000 – rp100,000 a day with uncertainty. He describes how some days his parents would be able to afford food, while other days they would go without dinner, and this was before the pandemic.

As a student, Abid described his schooling to have been minimal before moving to the rusunawa, mentioning that most of the time his studies only consisted of occasional reading and that they didn’t have adequate facilities. The rainy season would also result in periodic flooding, causing power outages and further disruption to his studies, as he would have to help his family relocate their belongings and replace damaged items.


Katie Sondakh The Rusunawa Abid stayed at. A Rusunawa Is an abbreviation of "rumah susun sederhana sewa", government-built flats with cheaper rent | Jakarta, Indonesia, 2021.

After moving to the rusunawa, Abid says that his home is much safer and cleaner and that his family doesn’t have to worry about the flooding anymore. Now with the Covid-19 restrictions, Abid is a frequent visitor of the learning center there. He describes the learning centers to be “almost like school”, with better learning conditions and cleaner workspaces. He accredits his achievements to the facilities provided by the learning centers, including wining first prize in Lomba Cerdas Cermat 2020 and getting accepted to Politeknik Negri Jakarta, where he continues to study today.


Katie Sondakh The trophy won by Abid during the Lomba Cerdas Cermat, a quiz competition based on subjects such as mathematics, physics, and basic electrical engineering. It is displayed at the front of the learning center. | Jakarta, Indonesia, 2021

After meeting and talking with Abid, I noticed that he was really enthusiastic and cheerful, even when talking about his old home. He was very grateful for how everything has turned out for him, and his stories were very compelling to listen to. He really is a natural storyteller.

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