This year Connect Indonesia is heading back to Lake Toba working collaboratively with local volunteers from a few small local cooperatives, to promote environmentally friendly products, such as basketry from organic materials made from pandan leaves, handmade textiles dyed with natural dyes and organically made long life food that can keep for a longer period of time which can be sold online.
Part of our mission to Lake Toba (Kawasan Danau Toba or KDT for short), is to invite the local people in the villages to be more self-sufficient, encourage them to plant fruit trees and vegetables around their homes for their families consumption. Most houses in Lake Toba are usually blessed with a good size garden, which often not used efficiently, and even often abandoned. We believe that people can successfully grow their own fruits and vegetables so that they can manage their micro income well, allowing them to purchase other more important family requirements which cannot be planted around their homes, such as bicycles, books for school, farming equipment, etc.
Since April this year, we are working closely with a small group of Pandan Weavers in Sigapiton Village, on the Eastern shore of Lake Toba, encouraging them to produce traditional pandan products, which was used widely for traditional ceremonies in the region called “TANDOK”. However, Tandok made from natural materials such as pandan or grass leaves, have slowly been abandoned and replaced by plastic Tandok, made in large factories, some may even be imported from China. This has damaging impacts on the environment and contributes to the decline of local economic development. Tandok weavers have lost income and no longer wish to continue weaving due to fierce competition with large plastic Tandok manufacturers. People are now opting to use plastic Tandok due to their cheap prices, perhaps for its durability, but not for their beauty.
The major problem faced by weavers in remote villages in Indonesia is fierce competition with large organisations that are able to offer much lower prices, which have crippled the journey of their products to markets. However, as our planet is now facing major environmental issues, small natural product projects like pandan weaving here in Sigapiton Village could help reduce unnecessary plastic productions for this sad planet.
Natural materials are readily available around the weavers’ homes and can be harvested for free, we believe this craft can be developed again in many parts of Lake Toba, to provide extra income to low-income families and to bring back lost culture and tradition. WE BELIEVE WE CAN.
ACTION IS STRONGER THAN WORDS. Let’s save our beautiful Earth together.