Bringing Food to Relieve Anxiety

ACT endeavors to fulfill the communities’ need for food amid COVID-19 pandemic by distributing free meals. The free meals supported by the generosity of the benefactors will, hopefully, be able to ease the daily anxiety of informal workers who have been financially affected.

Darwo, a scavenger in Bambu Apus region, Pamulang, has been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cardboard boxes, bottles, plastic cups, and other scraps that he scavenges are valued at lower prices compared to ordinary days. In addition, the collectors to whom Darwo and other scavengers sell the scraps is on the verge of closing. (ACTNews / Gina Mardani)

ACTNews, SOUTH TANGERANG – Saut and Darwo were tirelessly working in the hot afternoon sun, Monday (4/6). They pulled their carts that were loaded with scraps and used goods.  "The amount of scraps that I can get in a day varies. I usually scavenge in housing complexes, " said Saut

This middle-aged man from Cirebon has been a scavenger for 10 years. Within a week, Saut and his wife Wade used to be able to earn IDR 400,000 a most. With this income, he must pay IDR 700,000 for rent, in addition to fulfilling his family’s basic needs.

Saut, Wade and Darwo collect recyclable items, such as cardboards, papers, and plastic bottles. Before the pandemic, one kilogram of cardboard is worth IDR 2,000 and one kilogram of used mineral water bottles or cups is worth IDR 4,000. "Now the prices have drastically plummeted. One kilogram of cardboard is worth IDR 1,000, clean plastic is worth about IDR 2,000," said Saut. Not only that the prices of scraps are decreasing, according to Saut, the collector to whom Saut and other scavengers sell the scraps is on the verge of closing because the scrap-processing plants have stopped operating.

Saut and Darmo, used goods collectors at Bambu Apus, received a gartis lunch from Kampung Halaman Restaurant in Bambu Apus, Tangerang Seltan, Monday (6/4). That day 100 free meals were distributed to the underprivileged and daily laborers. (ACTNews / Gina Mardani)

Amid the anxiety and uncertainty, Saut believes firmly that God will protect and sustain him. "I completely depend on Allah. We ask Him for blessings, for health, for safety. Like others, I am also afraid, but because of the urgent need to fulfill basic necessities, I have to work outside. If we stay home, how could I eat and pay rent?” said Saut, who received free lunch at the Kampung Halaman Restaurant, which collaborated with ACT in the Free Meal Operation. The free meal distribution could at least alleviate the informal workers’ anxiety about fulfilling their basic needs amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Besides Saut and Darwo, Ramlih, a bamboo chair peddler, also enjoyed the free lunch package. The man living in Cibinong, Bogor, sells bamboo chairs in South Tangerang area.

That afternoon, Ramli's has sold all of his merchandise, giving him a profit of IDR 40,000 for each chair. "My job is only to sell them. The bamboo chairs are produced by my boss," Ramli said. He was immensely grateful for the lunch packages.

Mega Sari (31), owner of Kampung Halaman Restaurant, distributed 100 free meal packages, supported by the collaboration between ACT and Danone, Monday (4/6). The majority of the beneficiaries were scavenger, street peddlers, and motorcycle taxi drivers.

That day was the ninth day that Kampung Halaman Restaurant was open after it was temporarily closed. "Alhamdulillah, my business can continue running, and I can help people too," Mega said. She also hoped that partnership programs with ACT can continue to spread goodness. []