Australia’s leading international student news website

Project O 2016 and how Indonesian RMIT students are helping to break the cycle of poverty

Stevi Lee

Thu Oct 27 2016


EACH year, a group of Indonesian students from RMIT University helps raise awareness of their country’s problems through a range of charity events. Stevi Lee attended their Project O’s appreciation night, whose efforts this year focused on inadequate education for children in the Maluku Islands.

Indonesia’s Maluku Islands are gorgeous locations in their own right but for the children of these islands, inadequate learning resources make access to education difficult. On the flip-side, Indonesian students studying abroad have all the access they need to a meaningful education and it can be easy to forget this privilege.

To curb this, Indonesian student organisation PPIA RMIT hosted its charitable Project O’s Appreciation Night early this October at RMIT’s Storey Hall to the theme of ‘Wake Up Your Senses’ — aimed at alerting students, particularly Indonesian ones, to the problems facing their country.

In past years, Project O’s end-of-year event leaned more towards which musical acts they could line up, something Project O 2016’s Secretary, Rachel Melissa, said the charity wanted to move away from.

“Most of the time, people would be focusing more on the performers we invite. But this year, we wanted to shift that focus and to emphasise that we are a charity event,” said Melissa.

Handwritten notes by the children of the Maluku Islands. | Photo: Trinh Le

Handwritten notes by the children of the Maluku Islands. | Photo: Trinh Le

To further emphasise the organisation’s charitable endeavours, the event this year presented attendees with interactive booths that allowed students to learn more about the inadequacies faced by children in Maluku. These interactive booths included a modeled classroom with broken chairs and a leaked roof that allowed attendees to briefly experience the struggles of  Muluku’s children.

There were also handwritten notes by the children whose lives have been changed by Project O from their previous charity events.

Opening with a powerful skit which delivered the rage and reality that students from remote areas have to endure, the event also invited guest stars from Indonesia to share their aspirations in helping others.

Indonesian jazz singer Andien Aisyah, well-known for her humanitarian acts, acknowledged that most Indonesians often live in comfort and choose to ignore the most prevailing and uncomfortable truths in their society.

“It is safe to say that we [Indonesians] are living in a ‘watching’ culture whereby we choose to just watch rather than help when someone is in need,” the jazz singer said.

Andien then shared her experience working with children and the elderly, which she says marked a turning point for her once she realised how much of an impact others’ lives had on her and how she could affect theirs. Andien continued to encourage students and attendees to contribute and to help improve society wherever they are.

Representatives from international relief agency, Humanity First Indonesia, also shared their mission and vision of helping Indonesians in need and also encouraged students in Melbourne to continue staying aware of what was going on Indonesia, as well as the rest of the world, and to find out how they can help.


Indonesian bands and performers take the stage as part of Project O’s Appreciation Night. | Photo: Trinh Le

Monash University student Yusuf Auliadilaga feels the event itself “has opened doors for students here to contribute to the charity”. For Yusuf, he feels this makes Project O different to other Indonesian student club events as their efforts to educate attendees about the problems in Indonesian’s society can go a long way.

Tabita Hendricks, Project Manager of Project O 2016 agrees and adds the committee has worked hard over the year to bring this event to life.

“I hope that through this event, students will start to care [more] about others around them. Starting from the small circle, they will able to spread that care and love to a larger society,” Tabita said.

And it is with this optimism that Tabita and her team hope next year’s Project O events will continue to raise awareness of Indonesia’s problems and bring hope to the country.

“We hope that more and more people will be more aware and want to contribute to breaking the poverty cycle in Indonesia.”