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UNESCO-Citi creative youth engages with artisans with disabilities

young artist with disability painting incredible scenes in attic by holding paintbrush in her toes

It is estimated that persons with disabilities make up nearly 15 percent of the global population. It is at least one person out of ten!  However, the figure is largely underestimated due to the difficulty in conducting the census in small towns and villages.

Full and equal participation in society is a major challenge for persons with disabilities.   The business sector naturally cannot be indifferent to the issues.

Observing World Disability Day, UNESCO-CITI Kita Muda Kreatif (KMK-Creative Youth) programme invited two Batik artisans, Trimah and Hemanto, to present their works on YouTube Live.

In 2010, when Trimah saw people applying wax on batik cloth for the first time, her curiosity grew and she wondered if she could do the same with her foot.  Overcoming many challenges, she today runs her brand – Batik Samparan – with a range of bright modern ‘foot-drawn’ batiks.  The batik-making skill has earned her financial independence and dignity, says Trimah.

An accident paralyzed Hermanto’s legs at the age of 18. However, meeting people in the same situation saved him from despair and gave him the energy to carry on with life.  Hermato always loved drawing. This has naturally led him to batik-making.

Since 2015, he has made various products, like coasters, tablecloths, and tissue boxes, using batik, and sold them at his house in Candi Sambisari, Sleman District in Yogyakarta Province.  His soft-color fabric and care for details earned him a name.

“Persons with disabilities have multiple challenges during the batik production, such as boiling wax or lifting heavy materials.  However, all these could be solved through network and partnership,” says Hermanto.

During the event, Trimah and Hemanto’s products and the products of other entrepreneurs with disabilities were sold online.  A young designer Ronny Billiardo also joined hands with Trimah and Hemanto to design fashionable contemporary outfits.

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated inherent inequalities in society and had a particular toll on persons with disabilities.  “However, if each young entrepreneur supports one PWD through their business, even in a small way, it may go a long way to change the dynamic”, said Moe Chiba, Head of UNESCO Office Jakarta’s Culture Unit.

Ms. Nancy Pasaribu of Citi Indonesia further underscored that that being creative is also about being inclusive.

Ms. Poppy Dharsono, the Founder-President of the Indonesian Entrepreneurs and Fashion Designers Association, welcomed the KMK youth’s collaborative spirit and underlined that working with PWD is not a charity. On the contrary, the collaboration can aspire for a high-end product for the international market.  Her Poppy Dharsono School of Fashion Design has already nurtured several designers with disabilities working at a top level.

Since 2017, the UNESCO-Citi Indonesia’s Creative Youth at Indonesian Heritage Site programme – or Kita Muda Kreatif – supported by CITI Foundation has empowered more than 400 young Indonesian entrepreneurs to become new community development agents.  The programme will ensure that young entrepreneurs engage with disability sectors and explore regular collaboration as it enters the fifth year of execution.

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