News Feature

Bandung residents come forward to help one another amid pandemic

Bandung residents come forward to help one another amid pandemic

The Bandung Sharing (Bandung Berbagi) program conducted to educe acts of kindness. (ANTARA/HO-Humas Pemkot Bandung/RA)

Bandung (ANTARA) - The COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing since 2020, has had an impact on the economy of the people in Indonesia, including the residents in Bandung, which is currently the epicenter of COVID-19 in the Greater Bandung area.

Owing to this impact, the government, entrepreneurs, and the community have to work hard to survive in the midst of various limitations due to restrictions in accordance with health protocol directions issued during the pandemic.

Currently, various aids or stimulus funds disbursed by the government are yet not able to fully cover the shortcomings of people experiencing economic difficulties.

In fact, in 2020, the number of poor people in Bandung had increased to over 100 thousand, while in 2019, the figure was recorded at 84 thousand based on data from the Statistics Indonesia (BPS).

Moreover, various companies are terminating employment contracts (PHK) in 2021. Consequently, the poverty rate in Bandung City can likely increase every second.

Hence, the culture of cooperation (gotong royong), or sharing with others, is one of the efforts that should be made and intensified to secure the community's needs.

Bandung Berbagi (Bandung Sharing) Program

When the government enforced the Emergency Public Activity Restrictions (PPKM), the Bandung City Government identified as many as 60 thousand families that had not been recorded in the integrated social welfare data (DTKS) and had not received any social assistance from the government.

The Bandung City Government then distributed Social Cash Transfers of Rp500 thousand from the Regional Budgets (APBD) to help each family.

The aid was planned to revive the economy impacted by the Emergency PPKM until July 20, 2021. However, since the PPKM has been extended until early August 2021, it is believed that the assistance would still not be able to fully recover the residents' earnings.

To this end, the Bandung Sharing program was initiated by the Bandung city government to meet the needs of the community, especially the basic food requirements.

Chairman of the Bandung Economic Empowerment Center (BEEC) Ujang Koswara noted that the program was not an assistance distribution program but one to foster a sense of "care for each other” among residents.

This is because the distribution of aid is only temporary in line with the extended PPKM situation. Meanwhile, the growing sense of care for others can remain alive even after the pandemic is over.

The primary purpose of this program is to take anticipatory measures against social unrest since the implementation of PPKM has made it more difficult for some people to put food on the table. Moreover, scores are out of work owing to the pandemic, Koswara stated in Bandung, West Java, Tuesday.

Koswara explained that the Bandung Sharing program began with a stimulus fund. The fund is then utilized to prepare thousands of food packages that are distributed in certain areas.

The food package assistance should be distributed to areas that had earlier implemented sharing programs independently.

In Bandung, only six villages (kelurahan) are implementing a sharing program initiated by the residents. Hence, with the Bandung Sharing program in place, it is expected that the residents’ efforts would increase and have a positive influence on others too.

Technically, the Bandung Sharing program collects food packages from residents keen to donate. The food packages are thereafter collected at a post and picked up by other residents in need of food.

A place to share

Apart from the need for self-awareness, people keen to help others also need a place where they can contribute.

Bandung City Camat Association Chairman, Firman Nugraha, remarked that currently, several residents are hesitant if they can only help with a few food packages.

Hence, he highlighted the importance of a supportive place where people can share whatever they have without any hesitation.

"In fact, it is not that the people do not want to share with others, but the lack of facility for them to do it, and no one reminds them," he pointed out.

"Under normal conditions, without being facilitated, they might feel shy and discouraged if they could only give, let's say, two food packages. However, with the existence of the Bandung Sharing program, people would not have to feel that way," Nugraha remarked.

Front liners

In addition to sharing among residents, people should also pay attention to supporting health workers exposed to the COVID-19 virus and in need of self-isolation.

The Bandung Polrestabes Journalists Working Group (Pokja) has initiated a program to distribute basic food packages to support health workers undergoing self-isolation.

A representative of the group, Remy, noted that the food packages were expected to ease the burden on health workers, who are self-isolating.

Remy stated that after recovering, the health workers would have to again battle the COVID-19 pandemic as the front liners in handling the crisis.

"These health workers are at the forefront of handling COVID-19, so we need to support them," he emphasized.

As many as 28 health workers are currently self-isolating at a hotel in the Pasteur area, Bandung City, West Java. Those health workers came from various hospitals in Bandung, such as Hasan Sadikin Hospital, Borromeus Hospital, Hermina Hospital, and several other health centers.

Not only health workers that tested positive for COVID-19 but also those health workers, who are not infected by the virus and treating their peers, are also extended support through the provision of the same food packages.

One of the nurse representatives, Aris Mustopa, stated that the basic needs of health workers also need to be fulfilled while undergoing isolation apart from meeting their medical needs.

"The general public is self-isolating here, and many of them are asymptomatic. Alhamdulillah (Thank God), their condition is getting better," Mustopa remarked.

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