I was born pushing myself into everything I do in life – always looking for the next challenge and life-changing experience.
I was raised and grew up in a conservative family. I spent my early education in a religious and homogenous environment. While I believe that religion should bring peace and love, but it’s not the reality that I’m facing during my childhood. I witnessing that people around me mistreated women and shows hatred toward others. Since I was the little girl I always questioning about pluralism and freedom, because everything which has been happening in the family, was the family decision. During my childhood, i kept questioning many of the reality around me and I have told myself that if I want things to change, I had to leave. There’s something for me out there. I believe.
During my high school, I quietly make saving and prepare to run away from home once I finish high school. And yet, in 2000 just after my exam, I jumped on a bus to Yogyakarta. I walked out of my hometown with one thought in my mind: How can I never go back? How not to end up extremist? How can I make a difference?
I was 22 when I had an unplanned pregnancy. As a religious girl, sharing and being open is not my option. I knew that instead of getting the support I needed, I will face stigma and discrimination from my family and environment. I was too young and too naive to realize that I have rights to choose. I do not know where to go to find support and information. I get lost. I can rely only on my own and my boyfriend at that time. After going through a tough discussion, we finally decided to have an abortion.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to have an abortion at the clinic. I had to give up my motorbike and lend some money to pay for the abortion. Friends took me to Solo to have a clandestine abortion. The abortion performed in a hotel room, no counseling, no painkiller. It was very painful to me that made me feel like to die. The abortion succeeds, but my boyfriend took off afterward, left me with debt and post-psychosomatic trauma that forced me to give up my study and focus on recovering. For years I struggling with depression and very little support from friends and family. I choose to hide in a dark room, silence and full of despair.
How it all started
I found my strength back. At the same time, I read an article that there are 2 million abortions a year in Indonesia. I was wondering what if 50% of them had a trauma just like I had before, the feeling to give up and die. Those women did not have a place to share the feeling. So I started to blog my story. Unexpectedly, women replied back to me and share their abortion story, their despair and hopes. And that’s how the blog then expanded into a support group, and now Samsara – a feminist organization which aims to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health and promoting women’s bodily integrity and autonomy. While I love traveling and adventure, I mark activism thru Samsara as the most epic adventure.Today, Samsara develop more programs, not only to deliver pre and post-abortion counseling but also educational and advocacy program for sexuality and reproductive health and rights.
The Power of Technology
I understood the power of technology and how it could shape women’s health. In 2007 I joined forces with Kiki Nikijuluw to launch a hotline for post-abortion counseling program, what began as an experiment to see if one person could use the information and counseling service to help themselves recover from their trauma, fueled only by social media, propelled the creation of Samsara, a non-profit organization dedicated for all women with unwanted pregnancy to ensure they will receive counseling and support they needed.
Today Samsara develop more programs, not only to deliver pre and post- abortion counseling but also educational and advocacy program for sexuality and reproductive health and rights. Samsara hotline received 200-300 calls per month from women all over Indonesia and she represents Samsara in the Regional and International network to share best practice and strategy, and most of all she believe that the aim of all this hard work is to give back the power in the hand of women. Reclaim the rights of women’s bodily autonomy.
My leadership philosophy underlines on the importance of empowerment and meaningful participation of young people. I challenge everyone to join forces with Samsara as a life-changing opportunity. This is a true “experimental learning process” for all the team, member, and beneficiaries of Samsara.
If you want to learn more about my work, or if you are interested in helping with the project, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading my story!