Benteng Chinese Community is an indigenous Chinese ethnic community located in Sewan Lebakwangi Village, Tangerang City. They lived in the area since 1740 after the war tragedy in Batavia. Their colonization policy was isolated in the area which made it difficult for them to assimilate. Since 2015, Program Peduli has been working to improve access to public services, especially for Chinese Benteng women, and increase the social acceptance of traditional Chinese Ethnic communities
As of June 2017, Program Peduli had succeeded in opening access and convenience for residents of Sewan Lebak Wangi Village in obtaining 290 files of Population Administration or Adminduk (130 Family Certificates, 30 Identity Cards, 144 Birth Certificates, 2 marriage certificates). The Benteng Chinese women also gained access to the iva test of reproduction health, access to social assistance from the Government (BPJS PBI Card, houses upgrading, Family Hope Program), and access to various training for capacity building from the government.
The Benteng Chinese woman managed to build collective strength to be able to voice their interests and ideas. Program Peduli had succeeded in facilitating the Chinese Benteng women to form Lentera Benteng Jaya Resource Development Women’s Cooperative (KWPS).
On 22 September 2017, Ibu Heni (Lentera Benteng Jaya Cooperative) was interviewed about her involvement with the cooperative and how it changed her, and the community.
Before Program Peduli entered Mekarsari Village, Chinese Benteng married women did not have any activities other than taking care of the household. The incident of clashes between residents and the Tangerang City Government regarding the forced relocation of Chinese community along the Cisadane River for the benefit of the construction of the Cisadane River Green Line in 2009, made us worried about ‘new people’ entering our environment. This situation made us somewhat closed to outsiders.
PPSW colleagues helped by assisting me to look for women who did not have activities. After we gathered, we were given training and were encouraged to form cooperatives. Finally, on 5 May 2015 we legalized the cooperative under the name Lentera Jaya Cooperative. We started looking for members from married women who had no income. We invited them to learn to save.
At present, the membership of cooperatives is approximately 300 people, in which the members are not only limited to married women but also men and members from other ethnicities such as Ibu Suratni who is Javanese. We have also succeeded in getting the Head of Village and the Secretary of Mekar Sari Village to join our cooperative, even the Secretary of District Head of Negalasari has also joined us as a member of our cooperative.
When implementing cooperative assistance and regular meetings, it was known that there were still many cooperative members who did not have ID, family certificate(KK) and birth certificate. Finally, from these meetings, we took the initiative to collect data on members who did not have these documents. We use these data to consult with the Village Office in order to accelerate the provision of ID, KK and Birth Certificate for residents or members of cooperatives who did not have these documents.
Honestly, at first we did not know at all how to take care of those documents, let alone taking care of it, we were lazy even just to go to the village office. Before this, we handed the documents matters to third party and we had to pay. But since assistance from PPSW and dialogue with the village officials, we have become aware of how to manage these documents and help those who do not have them. In fact we became village adminduk cadres as well as posyandu cadres.
Since then, approximately during the past two years, we and the village officials have been like families and trusted each other. If there are village activities, we are always asked to help as committees, for example, the latest one, we were asked to become committees for the village-level children’s day celebration. A good relationship with the village officials benefited us, the Cooperative and the residents. For example, we are given a special room to process cooperative transactions every Tuesday each week and are given the freedom to have discussions.
Aside from that, my role as the chief of the KWPS has changed me and my friends as well as members of the cooperative. This change is that we become more confident in dealing with the Government. Confidence was gained from the results of our activities to take care of cooperatives and our activities in PPSW joint empowerment, such as the promotion of Cokek Sipatmo dance to the Tangerang City Government and the Central Government (Kemenko PMK) in various event opportunities. The promotions have even changed the views of the Government and wider community about cokek sipatmo dance which was originally erotic in its nuances to having spiritual and cultural significance. Our self confidence now has also become our self confidence as a Benteng Chinese community.
I and my colleagues in the cooperative are currently developing cookies business like nastar, lidah kucing, and putri salju cookies. We usually sell these cookies in the form of parcels during holidays, such as Chinese New Year, Eid al-Fitr and Christmas. In the future, we hope that our cookies production business will improve and its promotion will be more intense for the wider community as a typical Benteng Chinese cookies. For example, the promotion of these cookies at the Jakarta airport to be able to be purchased by people from various places.
The umbrella partner for the Pillar of “Remote Indigenous and Local Communities that Depend on Natural Resources” is Kemitraan, and the implementing partner for the Benteng Chinese community is the Jakarta Women Resource Development Center (PPSW).