The International Organization for Migration (IOM) wants to encourage more locals to support a new initiative that is helping earthquake victims to continue their recovery from the devastating May 27, 2006, earthquake.
IOM’s new “free tours” have been highly successful as part of the IOM-Java Reconstruction Fund (JRF) Livelihoods Recovery programme. Since starting in January, many foreigners and tourists have joined the tours to the workshops and showrooms of micro- and small enterprises (MSE) in villages surrounding Yogyakarta city.
Shamima Khan, Trust Fund Manager of JRF, said: “This initiative should be fully-supported for its compatibility with JRF’s mission in encouraging beneficiaries to strengthen their business skills and empower the assisted micro- and small enterprises. We also hope the program will create more market access for the crafters so they will be more successful and soon get back on their feet”.
On Friday, February 12, IOM took a group of 20 Australian students to visit batik makers in Kebon village, Central Java. The tourists enjoyed the chance to engage with the batik crafters and they bought many items of batik. Elena Williams, programme manager of the Australian student exchange programme ACICIS, said the tours were a great way to support local industry. “I would love for these tours to expand to other industries and other parts of Java and Indonesia,” she said.
Batik crafter Suminah, 60, was pleased that so many foreigners wanted to visit her workshop. “It’s beyond our expectation to have about 19 foreigners visit our showroom. If moments like these happen every day, I couldn’t imagine how much income we would make,” she said.
IOM Yogyakarta Head of Office, Torsten Haschenz, said: “IOM hopes that these visits will enrich both the visitors and the small enterprises through enhanced public awareness, which might in turn lead to increasing sales and incomes for these beneficiaries, including individual entrepreneurs and producer groups”.
The free tours are open for the public, with tours held twice a week – Wednesdays and Saturdays. The initiative aims to improve access to markets for IOM’s beneficiaries. News of the success of the tours reached Jakarta in February, with a large editorial featuring in a major daily newspaper.