Written by: Mega Aisyah Nirmala
I remember a conversation I had with a close friend a while ago. At the time, my friend asked me whether I would willingly join a volunteer group called Sekolah Pasar (School for Traditional Markets). I closely listened to her story about the organization’s vision and mission. I thought, this is interesting. On the same day, I applied to volunteer. By December last year, I was ready to move and make changes in the community.
Sekolah Pasar is a volunteer organization that puts efforts towards the development of merchants in traditional markets. It educates the merchants through a school at the market and gives free lessons tailored to merchants’ needs and the specific problems they encounter daily at the market. Sekolah Pasar, for instance, has school curricula to teach merchants on how to manage their finances, how to serve customers well, how to display goods, and so on.
Founded in 2011, Sekolah Pasar began operating in Pasar Kranggan, located at the heart of Yogyakarta’s busiest street.
The school has both basic and intermediate level programs. Each level runs for one semester. Upon finishing the two levels, the “students” are transferred to advanced courses run by other education and training centers.
Currently, there are about 30 students in the first class at Kranggan market, whose headmaster is also one of the merchants there. The students at Pasar Sekolah are taught by experts in each subject. The former mayor of Yogyakarta, Herry Zudianto, teaches a beginners class, while the next level is taught by university lecturers, economists, and businessmen who possess expert knowledge in their respective fields.
The class is held twice a month, on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. The duration of each class is two hours.
Apart from offering classes to educate the merchants at Kranggan market, Sekolah Pasar also provides a market clinic where merchants are encouraged to visit to get consultation on any kind of business matter.
In my experience of being a volunteer at Sekolah Pasar, I have seen the enthusiastic glows in the faces of the students. They spare some time out of their busy days to study with the hope of developing their businesses in the future, aiming to build a better life. The students vary from fruit sellers, vegetable sellers, and clothes sellers, to many others merchants.
In addition to giving an education to the merchants, Sekolah Pasar also plans to offer informal education to kindergarten, primary school, and middle school students. It will start in April. The goal is to encourage school children to appreciate traditional markets. One of the many ways to make them appreciate traditional markets is by taking them to the market. At Sekolah Pasar, this activity is called the “Tour to the Traditional Market.”
All of these efforts are carried out for the sake of the goodness of traditional markets. Sekolah Pasar understands that the existence of traditional markets is fading among modern consumers. The organization just won’t let traditional markets lose their cultural identity due to tough competition from supermarkets. Sekolah Pasar realizes that preserving traditional markets will not be easy, but I, and other volunteers at the organization, am sure that our struggle will be rewarded. I believe that traditional markets will regain their glory.
A great management thinker Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” That is what we at Sekolah Pasar are trying to do. We will re-create the glory of traditional markets as a future center of Indonesian commerce.
Through this volunteering activity, I have met many people from different backgrounds. Many of the volunteers at Sekolah Pasar are university students from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Universitas Islam Indonesia, Universitas Mercu Buana, and many others. I feel good to work together with such inspiring, dedicated fellow volunteers. When you sacrifice yourself for the sake of others’ goodness, that feels really good.
Although it is not my first time being a volunteer, I feel the challenge here is steeper than at any other organization where I have worked. The experience itself allows me to evaluate the way I think, the way I care for my surroundings, and, most of all, the way I see and handle problems.
I believe my time spent as a volunteer at Sekolah Pasar is in line with what American author Edward Everett Hale said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something, and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do”.
For more information on Pasar Sekolah, visit http://www.sekolahpasar.com
-Published in Jakarta Globe-