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Thursday, February 28, 2008

"www.KIVA.org" - check this out

LOANS THAT CAN CHANGE LIVES

After surfing in internet for hours, unintentionally, I found one site with simple idea but has been changing so many people around the world to improve their welfare.


Kiva.org is non-profit community that is revolusioning the fight against global poverty. This community is a place for many donators around the world (mostly from US, UK, Canada) to connect with and make personal loans (only $25) to low income enterpreneurs in developing countries. Most of the poors are self-employed enterpreneurs and a small loan to purchase bussiness-related item (such as sewing machine, livestock, etc) can empower them to earn the way out of poverty

From Kenya to Ecuador, microfinance institutions (MFI) around the world go to Kiva.org and post photos and profiles of low income entrepreneurs in need of money for their businesses.

Lenders go to Kiva.org and browse through profiles of low-income entrepreneurs (a dairy farmer in Kenya, a man who wants to open a shoe shop in Honduras, or a tailor in Bulgaria, etc...). Lenders can then loan as little as $25 to the poor entrepreneur of their choice via PayPal, a globally recognized online payment service. Journal updates keep the lenders informed about the progress of the entrepreneur they sponsored. Loan repayments made by the entrepreneur over the course of about 6-18 months are sent back to Kiva by the MFI partner.

I believe, You will get a higher return on $25 helping someone build a future than the interest your checking account pays. So?? If you already had more than enough money for your life, why don't you use just a little of your money for helping other poor people around the world like some people of Kiva?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cap Go Meh is comming...!!


Today is Cap-Go-Meh day celebrated mostly by Chinese migrant communities including me. Cap Go Meh is "Yuan Xiaojie", "Yuanxi", "Yuanye" or "Shang Yuanji" in chinese. Cap Go Meh is 15th day after Imlek (Chinese Lunar new year) or the last day in Imlek coincide with full moon night. According chinese tradition, Cap Go Meh will end 15 days of Imlek celebration .


Watching festival lampion (lantern festival) is one common thing we doing beside Barongsai (Lion dance), Kembang api (firework) and petasan (firecracker). The most popular food for the Chinese Lantern Festival is Onde-Onde (yuanxiao), a kind of sweet dumpling made of glutinous rice or wheat flour.


Fyi, I'm a chinese-ethnic Indonesian, the one who also celebrates Imlek and Cap go meh as part of my family traditions. I came from the chinatown of south Teluk betung, Lampung, one of eight provinces in Sumatra. Today, I live and work in jakarta, meanwhile my mother still lives in my hometown.

This night, right now, I'm writing this blog while watching Cap Go Meh celebration in metro TV, feeling soooo homesick...
Light my "LA Lights" cigarette...
All memories are comming back...
I miss my home, mommy and friends...
I love u mommy...
I miss you: Jonlie, FuSen, Ijul, Pohan, Aming, santo, Okuan, acong, Silvi, etc...
What are you all doing right now???
Feel the same feelings like me???...

New year bonus for chinese-ethnic Indonesian


JAKARTA - Indonesia has taken the symbolic step of reconciling with its minority ethnic-Chinese community by recognizing Chinese New Year as a full-blown national festival, a public celebration it had banned for nearly 30 years. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono attended the UnitedNational Indonesian "Imlek" (Chinese New Year) celebrations at the Jakarta fairground, where his visit was broadcast live on national television.

Adding new fervor to the festivities spread over the past few weeks is the fact that many Chinese-Indonesians are celebrating as legal Indonesian citizens for the first time. A new citizenship act passed by the House of Representatives last July defines an Indonesian national as anyone born in the country. The legal distinction has allowed many Chinese-Indonesians, who belong to families that have resided in the country for generations but until now were legally considered stateless, to become full-fledged national-identification-card-carrying citizens.

Ethnic Chinese are estimated to represent about 10 million of Indonesia's 210 million people, or about 2% of the total population. During the authoritarian regime of president Suharto (1967-98), public displays of Chinese culture were banned, and many Chinese were asked to change their names to Indonesian ones if they wished to be eventually considered for citizenship. "Suharto's government saw Chinese characters and culture as political. We were not even allowed to make candles," said Yu Le, a member of a Buddhist temple.

He said he now prefers to use his Chinese name rather than his adopted Indonesian one of Suherman. "Around the temple there were always police and military. We could not celebrate Imlek here. People were afraid to come. We had to do it at home, hiding."

Inside the same temple, an elderly Chinese-Indonesian man, who declined to reveal his name, pointed to the Chinese characters on the shrine's wall and said: "This was not allowed to be printed and we could not make these candles during Suharto's time."

Indonesia's ethnic-Chinese minority had celebrated the Lunar New Year freely until the abortive 1965 coup against Suharto's military regime, which his supporters then claimed was encouraged by China's communist government. More than 500,000 people were subsequently killed in an orgy of violence, including thousands of ethnic Chinese, aimed at destroying the Indonesia Communist Party.

After that, anything red, the color of prosperity for Chinese, or written in Chinese was seen as a threat to state power.

"I and my Chinese friends shared a good time. We helped each other," recalled Mustafa Kamal Ridwan, senior fellow at the Habibie Center, an Islamic think-tank. "However, there was racial tension under Suharto. I felt I didn't have any Chinese friends after 1965. We suspected that Chinese people were members of the Indonesia Communist Party, and they became enemies for Muslim people."

*Outlawed expressions*
The Jakarta municipal government banned Chinese New Year celebrations in 1967, coincident with Indonesia and China breaking off official diplomatic relations. Restrictions covered the use Chinese language in print and public discourse as well as public performances of cultural acts, such as the lion dance

Diplomatic relations with China were restored only in 1990, but the restrictions remained in force. During president Abdurrahman Wahid's short-lived tenure, these bans were in 2001 finally lifted. Wahid was notably also the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest grassroots Muslim organization, with an estimated 40 million members.

His successor as president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, went a step further by declaring Imlek a national holiday.

DuringImlek celebrations this year, national newspapers carried colorful pictures of the festivities. At the same time, there were also critical commentaries in daily newspapers such as the Jakarta Post, which questioned the level of ethnic-Chinese integration into mainstream Indonesian society.

Journalist and writer Sima Gunawan, who only recently publicly disclosed her Chinese name as Kho Djoen Siem, argued that few people in Indonesia knew that world badminton champion Rudy Hartono was actually an ethnic Chinese. The same goes for renowned film director Teguh Karya, physicist Yohanes Surya and pop-music star Agnes Monica, she noted. On the other hand, she carped, everyone seems to know the right ethnicity of Chinese-Indonesians who "commit serious crimes or do something wrong".

In an odd historical twist, while on one hand cracking down on public displays of Chinese culture, on the other, the dictator Suharto tapped several ethnic-Chinese businessmen to run crucial sections of the economy, allowing them to amass huge fortunes with the country's fast economic growth.

The fact that the Chinese minority 30 years later still has a strong grip on the national economy is a cause for resentment among many indigenous Indonesians, known locally as "pribumis". Those tensions boiled over in the wake the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, when in May 1998 violence erupted against ethnic-Chinese interests across the archipelago, including in Jakarta, Solo and Medan. Many Chinese complained at the time that the government condoned the violence.

Under threat, many Chinese-Indonesians fled Indonesia, including big businessmen who spirited hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country and into private accounts in neighboring Singapore. There are still widespread local perceptions among that Chinese-run family businesses favor their own kind in employment and that they tend to underpay their pribumi workers.

"If we talk about economic advantage or how they control economic opportunity, the ethnic Chinese are better positioned than pribumis," said Marwan Batubara, a member of the Regional Representative Council representing Jakarta province. "It is time for the Chinese community to open up and mingle with the rest of the people more openly than before."

The Habibie Center's Ridwan believes that events such as the national celebration of the Imlek festival show the government is trying to reach out to the Chinese community. He foresees the eventual formation of a race-based Chinese political party - similar perhaps to the ones in neighboring Malaysia that represent the larger Chinese minority community there.

"It means there is now a willingness to integrate the Chinese community]into Indonesia. But it doesn't mean they integrate with Islamic culture," he said. "They don't have to be Muslim to be Indonesian. Imlek is not a religious celebration."


By Kalinga Seneviratne
(Inter Press Service, with additional reporting by Asia Times Online)

taken from :
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/IC03Ae01.html

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Anti Plastic-Bag Campaign


More and more shopping centers and supermarkets in Chengdu, capital city of southwest China's Sichuan province, are advocating environmentally-friendly shopping practices. Xinhua News Agency reported, some sellers in Chengdu sold customers reusable cloth shopping bags while others in the city provided no plastic bags at all.

When you actually do the math, the numbers are quite surprising. Every day in China, around 3 billion plastic bags are put into circulation. As such, every year this country has to use up 37 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags that we often take for granted.

As such, the China's State Council has announced that it's putting in restrictions on plastic bags as of June 08. From that point, shops, supermarkets and sales outlets won't be allowed to offer free plastic bags, and every carrier has to be marked with a price. In addition, the government is banning the production of thin bags that are less than 0.025 millimeters.

Plastic bags will cost shoppers money as of June 1, and the bags will be subject to stricter production standards as well. Under the draft standards, published on the central government's web site (www.gov.cn) recently, the thickness of plastic bags for shoppers should be at least 0.025 mm, without bubbles or perforation. Also, bags should have tips to remind consumers to re-use them for the sake of environmental protection and energy conservation. Supermarkets giving free bags will face a maximum penalty of 30,000 yuan (4,000 U.S. dollars), under a related regulation from the Ministry of Commerce.

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A Toronto city councillor and new chairman of Toronto's public works and infrastructure committee, Glenn De Baeremaeker has recently taken issue with plastic bags and promises to take action. He said this has to change, and is proposing to reduce the number of bags by 90 per cent.

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In India, as part of its cleanliness and environment awareness drive, officials of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation seized 20 kg of prohibited polyethylene bags from four different vegetable markets of the city.

Also in Kerala India, this city banned all plastic bags (as well as bottles and cups) that are less than a certain thickness of fibre.

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There was a group of nearly 2000 kids in Kingston, Ontario who signed a petition to their local government, encouraging them to ban plastic bags in all grocery stores in Kingston.

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The two largest cities in the state of Maryland - both Baltimore and Annapolis - are considering enacting bans on plastic bags. So now we’ve pretty much covered every corner of the country with potential bans.

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Australians support a ban on plastic bags. Currently there is legislation in place to phase them out in the near future but apparently that’s not soon enough. Australia seems to be light years ahead of most other Western nations in their fight to combat plastic bags.

Peregian, a town on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, is a plastic-bag-free town. It follows the path of a number of other Australian communities (the first of which was Coles Bay, Tasmania) that have banned plastic bags.

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From an article in the Daily Nation (Kenya’s newspaper), Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai talks about how e-waste is a growing challenge in developing nations, especially those which lack the infrastructure to manage the e-waste. She’s the one who helped lead the charge to ban plastic bags in Kenya.

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Uganda decided to ban plastic bags. But this wasn’t the first time that Africa has lapped North America on this issue. Earlier this year, a sizeable portion of Tanzania went plastic bag-free, and a number of other countries over the years have taken decisive action, be it bans or taxes.

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Hong Kong and their monthly “No Plastic Bag Day” campaign has been extended into this year. It was so successful that they feel it’s worthwhile to continue with it.

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In New Zealand, the checkout clerks at the chain of supermarkets called "Progressive" was meant to ask all customers purchasing less than three items if they really need a plastic bag.

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Meanwhile,

Paris had initially planned to ban non-biodegradable plastics as of 2010

Ireland imposes a tax to consumers on every plastic bag that they use.

Denmark charges a tax to plastic-bag-wrapping retailers,

Switzerland requires supermarkets to charge for bags used.

In Wales, plastic bags will be banned in Welsh supermarkets

In Scotland, Mike Pringle, Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh South, had put forward a Plastic Bag Levy Bill which would see supermarkets and other retailers providing plastic bags charging a small fee for every carrier customers required, in an effort to encourage consumers to use their own bags.

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Finaly,
In Indonesia, we just starting an action. In Bandung city, Feb 4, a campaign called "Anti Plastic Bag Campaign" was launched. This action organized by the university student of Bandung Technology Institute (ITB). They asked people to bring a special non-plastic own bag everytime they shop.

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Well..., We have only one precious world.
So, why don't you make this world to become a better place for all of us? Please Open your heart widely and be part of this movements!!



Monday, February 18, 2008

Wholeday at Ciliwung






Yesterday, I went to Ciliwung, took part in social aid activity organized by KKMK (Catholic Young Employee Community). Ciliwung is a main river flows through my lovely Jakarta. "Kampung Pulo" and "Bukit duri" were the name of the districts I visited, a full of poverty urban district experiencing great flood so many times. In this place, approximately one year ago, Ciliwung 's water level got 4 metres overflowed from normal condition reached a height of 3 metres flooding houses and made this area become the most serious flood-stricken area in Jakarta. You only saw the top of the roof of most of every houses there, even reached as high as the waist of an adult person standing at second floor of two-floored house.

The people live in there have become accustomed to flood disaster that happen almost annually. The poverty forces them to stay at this area hopelessly. The lack-of-hygiene housing crowds the river banks with poor drainage. Ciliwung's width in Kampung Melayu was reduced to five from ten meters in many decades. The population has been reclaiming the river banks, so that the river became increasingly narrower, and consequently the river flow became stronger. The condition of the river has been made worse by garbage and refuse that silting the riverbed.

We came to that pathatic place yesterday. Yeah..., although we came from catholic community, but in this activity we didn't bring our religious labels or symbols. That was my favourite part in this activity that showed our honesty and careness to our surrounding as human being. We collected all garbage we found and also planted some small crops around the riverside. This might not influence the river condition, but this is important for people awareness about garbage handling and also their healthy environment.

Finally, I impressed with people's friendliness, their served snack and their smiling faces. A full of definitely sincerity smile... A smile that made me realize that this small world is so pretty even at the most pathetic environment. Smiley is the window of people's heart indeed....

Sunday, February 17, 2008