Story from the Field: River of Dreams

Posted by Save the Children on
Thu, 10/12/2017

Every hand you sent in for the 2016 Youth Uplift Challenge counted towards the Bezos Family Foundation's donation to Save the Children’s youth empowerment programs in Nicaragua and Indonesia. This is a story of Muhammad (Mumu) and his peers in Indonesia, and how their Save the Children program has helped them learn life skill trainings that help them contribute more to their community.


When Mumu was 8, he and his family moved from Garut to Bandung in search of a better life. They didn't find what they were looking for. Life has been really hard for them. They had to live as scavengers, and Mumu had to drop out of school in second grade to help the family eke out a living. He also worked as a street performer.

The Cikapundung River has always been a big part of Mumu’s life.  His family lives there, his friends live there, and he has spent most of his time there. He found happiness by learning rafting and river boarding on its waters. It made Mumu sad to see the river become more and more polluted over the years and so he got involved in a clean-up project at the Cikapundung River.

Over the last few years, a number of community activities have sprung up around the riverside, mostly initiated by people who care about the neighborhood. One of these is Sakola Cikapundung - an educational, literacy community group for Cikapundung’s children.

Skills to Succeed, through its local partner KAP, saw this as an opportunity to give the youth of the riverside population a chance at a brighter future. After participants in Skills to Succeed received their life skills training, they, with the help of Sakola Cikapundung, were able to establish a small business, which they named Cikapundung Eco-Tracking.

Eco-Tracking offers tours focusing on the ecology of the Cikapundung River and provides educational insights for visitors. Mumu and his friends, with the unique understanding of the area that they have gained from having lived there, are the tour operators.

The life skill trainings that Mumu and his friends received through Skills to Succeed helped them to realize that they deserved a better future and that by setting goals and learning from their Skills to Succeed mentors, the path to success would be clearer. The group also leveraged support they received from experts from ITB University, to start their business. Their input not only added value to the business, but also increased the capacity of the youth in the community to make good decisions.

Cikapundung Eco-Tracking has become a big attraction for visitors to the area. The group already has a waiting list of Badung schools who want to sign up for the Eco-Tracking events. Mumu and his friends charge a per person entrance fee and guide fee. They are well on their way to a brighter future.

Read more on the Youth Uplift Challenge here.