Together Caring for Others and the Planet in the Face of the Pandemic

It was the last Sunday in 2020. At first light of the day, dozens of cyclists were already busy packing their bags with packages of staple food. Sounds of chatter and laughter fill the air.

Joy can be seen flashing from the corner of their eyes, even when their faces are obscured behind their masks.

They were preparing to deliver those packages from Foodbank of Indonesia’s warehouse to Kampung Starling in Senen area, Central Jakarta. Great distance to cover and heavy load to carry did not dampen their desire to share. In almost one year of the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing and supporting each other has become powerful forces against the pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 300.000 packages of staple food have been donated through the #StrongerTogether program, initiated by Bank DBS Indonesia. The program is a collaborative effort between Bank DBS Indonesia with Westbike Messenger, The Cyclist’s Portrait, and Foodbank of Indonesia. The food packages are distributed in various locations in Jakarta, including Kampung Starling, Central Jakarta. Most residents of Kampung Starling, located right on a riverbank, work as drinks vendor. Everyday, the men would ride their bicycles, packed with sachets of instant drinks and hot water, to little alleys and streets around the city. The women, meanwhile, carry large baskets filled to the brim with various refreshing drinks. All are looking for thirsty and exhausted customers to serve.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the livelihood of many, including the drink vendors. “Before the pandemic, work is easier. Lots of customers,” said Khoirul Anam, one of the drink vendors. “Nowadays, not so much. I used to sell at least ten sachets of instant coffee a day. But now, just two,” said Khoirul, speaking from his 13 years experience since he first moved to Jakarta in search for a better life. The impact of the pandemic is real for Khoirul. Working hard everyday from sunset to sunrise, he still finds reasons to be grateful for every rupiah he can make.

Khoirul, along with dozens of other residents of Kampung Starling, are recipients of the food packages donated under the #StrongerTogether program. This donation program is a ray of light in the midst of the pandemic dark cloud, for those whose economy were most impacted. Collaboration from all sides to support those who are suffering because of the pandemic, is an undeniable force that will carry us through this pandemic.

One of the institutions involved in the #StrongerTogether program in Kampung Starling is the Cyclist’s Portrait. Panji Indra, a renown photographer and founder of the Cyclist’s Portrait said, “I’m delighted to collaborate with Bank DBS Indonesia. This is a very positive campaign. As we know, almost all of these on bike drink vendors are affected by the pandemic.”

“This collaboration has a real impact, not only for those affected by the pandemic, but also for the environment," said Hendi Rachmat, founder of Westbike Messenger. The sentiment is echoed by Erni Septi Aryanti, Bank DBS Indonesia employee who is actively involved in the #StrongerTogether activities. “This time, we are donating in a new way. Donating by cycling. We are helping to ease the burden of those who are affected by the pandemic, and reducing our carbon footprint at the same time.”

The #StrongerTogether program is a real collaborative effort between employees of Bank DBS Indonesia with community and community organizations. Dozens of employees are involved in making face masks, packaging foods and distributing them directly to the community.

This collaborative effort in distributing packages of staple food surely relieves some of the burden of those whose livelihood are impacted by the pandemic. Furthermore, delivering the packages by bicycle is a reflection of Bank DBS Indonesia’s commitment to support sustainable programs and preservation of the environment.