The Sun Still Rises in Tamantirto
By Fahd Pahdepie
In the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic filled with melancholy and anxiety, some good news came from Tamantirto, Kasihan, Bantul. There, a private campus owned by the Muhammadiyah organization chose not to give up on the situation. Instead, they made a statement: Universities must be present when people need them.
Since the start of this epidemic, the campus has continued to try and find a way out. Recently, they distributed thousands of food packages to local residents and students that are trapped in the city and cannot go home due to government regulation. They knocked on the students’ dormitories and boarding houses to ask, “What can the campus do to help you?”
When the government stopped all teaching and learning activities, the campus immediately provided subsidies of cell phone data to its students. Lecturers are encouraged to hold online lecture classes. Students are implored to be optimistic and continue learning. In the midst of all the difficulties to adapt, the campus made sure to find a way out. Thousands of laptops and computers have been provided to support this effort.
However, it turned out that the pandemic chose to linger. When the Yogyakarta government decided to impose a quarantine, many students could not get out of the city. “What will become of our students?” the campus continues to think ponder. They realize that their students will face difficulties: Boarding fees must be paid, food and drinks cannot be delayed, all while their parents’ income at home is disrupted because of the accursed pandemic.
And so, the campus moved to pay a visit to their student’s residences. The lecturers and staff have the additional task of taking relevant data of their students. The order was clear: No students of the campus shall go hungry.
So, the campus prepared food packages and spent funds to aid every student. In the month of Ramadan where the students will fast, thousands of takjil (snacks) are distributed every day with a drive-thru format. Students only need to register online and then show their Student ID card when taking it. Everyone must be able to eat.
“In this pandemic, what we think about are our students and employees.” A leading figure of the campus said over the phone. “We must survive for the next few months with the existing financial condition. After that, some efficiency might be needed. But for now, what matters is the fate of the lecturers, staff and students. ” the figure said.
I was struck in awe when I heard those sentences. In the midst of all the bad news about companies that seem to spare no compassion to their employees, between slanted news about schools or universities that are only busy collecting tuition fees from their students or students, it turns out there are still institutions that wear their heart on their sleeves, above everything else.
In fact, there’s even better news. The campus has decided to broaden its embrace to the wider community. Residents around the campus were given grocery packages. Professionals that are considered vulnerable such as the mosque caretakers, Ustadz (clerics), elementary school and PAUD employees, are prioritized for assistance.
I believe that this country is not entirely dependent on the works and mercy of the government. There are many civil groups like this one that operates without government assistance. Groups like these are the ones that actually sustain this nation to remain firm in the midst of the pandemic and the threat of the existing crisis.
I believe this campus is only one of many. It is one of the thousands or even millions of good news that is keeping this country from collapsing from the pandemic. There are countless organizations, community groups, even individuals who are constantly moving to ignite hope and build optimism about tomorrow.
In Tamantirto, Kasihan, Bantul, the positive energy continues to radiate and shine. This campus is called UMY. Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, a private campus owned by the Muhammadiyah organization that chose not to give up on the situation. A campus that really wants to attend to and serve the country, whatever the cost.
I am proud to have studied there. I am an alumnus of that ‘rich’ campus. Indonesia will not end, Jogja will not give up, as long as the sun still rises in Tamantirto.
Jakarta, 13 May 2020
Alumnus of Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta