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These volunteers are changing Indonesia's social and environmental landscape

These volunteers are changing Indonesia's social and environmental landscape

Making new friends, learning about new cultures, acquiring new skills, expanding and sharing knowledge, and supporting people in need. These are only some of the many benefits that people usually gain when volunteering for a charity or non-profit organization. There are many places around the world that require extra assistance, and sometimes, even the smallest act of kindness can help make a difference. Indonesia is a country famous for its beautiful natural landscapes and rich culture. Founded in 2005 in Semarang City, Indonesian non-profit Dejavato opened its doors to local residents and overseas travellers in the hopes of sharing its vision of a peaceful, economically-sustainable, and unified Indonesia.


Everything started with a weekend camp in the Karimunjawa Islands, when high school, university students, and some expatriates who lived in nearby Semarang City were the first attendees. At the end of the same year, Dejavato received their first international volunteers, who came from Japan and the Netherlands. Nowadays, they have partnerships with many international organizations, hosting international volunteers and sending Indonesian volunteers overseas in countries located in Asia, Europe, and America. Annually, around 12 work camp projects and 22 projects for Mid/Long Term Volunteer are open. The organization hosts between 100 to 200 international volunteers and sends 10 to 50 Indonesian volunteers abroad every year.


Dejavato was founded with the purpose of filling an existing gap in the areas of education and social welfare in Indonesia. After almost 12 years in business, Ketut Purwantoro, President of Dejavato, explains that this is not an easy duty due to variations in culture and personal character, but the organization carries on in the best way it knows how.

"We have been promoting the spirit of volunteering and increasing the awareness of volunteering in Indonesia through various voluntary activities which involved many local partners and youth and we will keep on going with this challenging work," Purwantoro said. "We do believe that the youth is our future generation. When they can do an exchange and learn different cultures, it will increase their common understanding about each other's differences, and hopefully they will respect each other and make the world more peaceful."


The organization works with six different types of projects, ranging from work camps, volunteering services, student exchanges, internships, and also the opportunity for local families to host foreigner volunteers through a host family program. Dejavato also works with contributions in order to support underprivileged locals with financial support, medical service, and a better education. The programs are built to suit a wide range of people. Some require a background from the participant and a minimum age of 18. Others have a minimum age of 12 years old. 


The volunteer programs have different lengths and areas of work like agriculture, environmental, orphanage assistance and construction, among others. However, the group work camp with elephants and the cultural work camp on Bali Island are among the most popular programs. "These two are very popular because these programs offer unique and different experiences to the volunteers which they cannot get in their home country," explains Purwantoro.


Dejavato works as a host organization in Indonesia, so foreigners are required to apply to the programs through an organization from their own countries. However, Indonesians can apply directly with them, as well as foreigners that wish to be a Dejavato volunteer. 


Changing people's perceptions and respecting different cultures are usually some of the benefits of volunteering, and Dejavato witnessed the latter. In the early stages of the organization' growth, Dejavato House had some difficulty in finding local partners to host their international volunteers, because Indonesian people had the idea that hosting foreign people was hard. "After some years, the perception of our local people have now changed, because they feel that hosting volunteers is interesting, and gives new experiences and challenges," Purwantoro said. "Currently most of the new organizations come to us and request volunteers. Surely we do select new local organizations as we set up our standard. We still keep on maintaining our old same organizations, as well as accepting new partners."

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Canadian photographer Megan Wilson visited Indonesia to register the work of Dejavato House and took several incredible photos outlining the organization's mission. "It was wonderful to have Megan in Indonesia," Purwantoro said. "She was the first volunteer from PWB and we learned a lot from her, as well as about photography. We now realize that promoting volunteering through photos, video and social media is very useful and effective."


For the future, Dejavato is developing some new projects that combine volunteering culture, adventure, and education, alongside a high school student exchange program and a special Japanese teaching and culture program. 

If you are curious about their work and also willing to help, please click here.