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Indonesian woman helps former communists

Meeting discusses what’s been done to help the most needy

Indonesian woman helps former communists
Cicilia Yulianti Hendayani (second right) speaks at yesterday’s meeting in Jakarta
More needs to be done to help people in East Java who are still being persecuted 40 years on for their association with a banned communist movement, a young Catholic laywoman says.

“I’m helping people still suffering because of their association with the Communist Party of Indonesia,” Cicilia Yulianti Hendayani from Blitar district in East Java said.

“These people are ignored by local government, which causes them to live in extreme poverty,” she added.

She was speaking at a meeting in Jakarta yesterday organized by Indonesia’s Inter-Religious Council (IRC), which represents Buddhist, Catholic, Confucian, Hindu, Islam and Protestant groups.

The meeting was held to discuss actions taken by the interreligious community in promoting justice and combating poverty.

The Communist Party of Indonesia was the largest non-ruling communist party in the world prior to being crushed in 1965 and banned the following year.

“Their life is filled with fears and shame. They hardly talk to anyone,” Hendayani said.

Much of her work with these people she says has been in association with the pastoral service of the diocese of Surabaya.

Hendayani also told the meeting how she has also helped prostitutes, people with HIV/Aids and former migrant workers living in 23 hamlets in the district.

“We’ve encouraged them to become farmers and asked them not to focus merely on money. And now they have self-confidence,” she said.

Johny Sirait, a Protestant activist from Surabaya, also shared his experiences during yesterday’s meeting.

“We serve poor people disregarding of their background. We teach mothers how to educate children, cook and generate money. We offer a trauma healing program for children experiencing domestic violence,” he said.

IRC chairman, Din Syamsuddin of Muhammadiyah, said he hoped the sharing of experiences during the meeting will encourage other young people to serve poor people.

Related report
Church lay association brings happiness to poor Indonesians

IJ13050.1638
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