Millie Stephanie Lukito
Pansophia was established in 2009 to provide free or affordable early childhood education to those in need. Ever since, we’ve expanded our classroom from teaching 20 children per year to 2,000 children per year. Similarly, the Maria Lukito Foundation also aims to provide quality education to high-school dropouts as well as university students. However, since Indonesia has recently fallen victim to several natural disasters, we have also helped build houses in Lombok and Palu Donggala.
How have people’s attitudes towards education and healthcare flourished since you started your philanthropic endeavours?
I only co-founded Pansophia Nusantara and founded the Maria Lukito Foundation long after I had established my career. It astounds me to see passion for helping others spread across the nation. Changing people’s perception towards education and healthcare takes more than just a couple of months. When you’re in your early 20s, it’s easy to focus on yourself and to ensure that you’re successful first before helping others. But, as you can see, times are changing, and young people nowadays are eager to help society and the environment in more ways than one.
We The Teachers was born out of a thesis paper. I was looking into the supply and demand of elementary school teachers, and we began to work with public elementary school teachers in Jakarta. Now we not only provide teacher training, but we also help create curriculums and send out supplies to
rural-area schools in order to maintain quality education.
What has been your biggest hurdle so far?
It would have to be culture. Everyone has their own opinions and different mindsets. The parents of the children we encounter never benefitted from education themselves so their children grew up believing that they can survive without education. If they are given the option of studying and making money— whether by working the fields or singing in the streets—they would most likely choose the latter. It’s very difficult to convince them that something they are missing something integral that could better the quality of their lives when they’ve never even thought twice about it.
My sister Elena and I founded Saab Shares when we were 14 and 16, four years ago. We started from shelters under the bridge and near train tracks seeking to help homeowners. Everyone thought we were crazy—I was a city girl who would panic at the sight of a bug. Nevertheless, I was meant for a greater purpose and that was to help reduce poverty in Indonesia.
How do you achieve your mission?
I wanted to go beyond monetary aid. Saab Shares mentors people to become financially independent and to have great work ethics. We believe that good character defines one’s path just as much as knowledge does, especially in the workforce. A prime example would be our social enterprise, Heritage Batik by Sabrina, where we help 50 batik artisans in Yogyakarta design and sell their works, which then fund both these women and the other initiatives of Saab Shares. I always say: “One Product, 100 Impacts.” That’s the kind of impact we want to have through our organisation.
Dr Rininta Christabella
Let’s Share Indonesia has three pillars: education, women empowerment, and healthcare. While my colleague Dita handles the education and women empowerment aspects, I head the healthcare programme. For this latter pillar, we focus on funding the health expenses of disabled children who do
not have health insurance and initiate other projects such as sending emergency doctors to Palu and Lombok after the recent natural disasters. One can only imagine the challenges you face in this line of work.
Is there any particular thing that keeps you going?
It’s true that as philanthropists we give a lot, but we also gain invaluable lessons by changing lives. One such case is this patient of ours from Papua: a burns victim whose legs were stuck together. We operated on him, but we couldn’t straighten his legs because they had been stuck for too long. After rigorous physiotherapy, he’s now in school and called to thank us and the donations. I couldn’t believe
the perseverance and optimism this child had shown after experiencing such a devastating event, and I only hope I can be as grateful in life as he is.