Dennis Franz, member of GMI visited the slums in Indonesia. After his return, Silvia Schüßler, member of the board, interviewed him
As a member you have been supporting GMI for a few years. How did you become part of GMI?
I have been friends with Tobias Schüßler, the founder of GMI, since our school days. I’ve known GMI for a long time. I was particularly fascinated by the “help for self-help” approach. I think it’s great that GMI doesn’t just distribute donations but helps people with microcredits and counselling or with sponsored training, and that’s what I wanted to support. That’s why I became a sponsoring member.
You travelled to Indonesia at your own expense and visited areas known for poverty and distress. What moved you to do that, what was your motivation and what were your expectations?
I have been wanting to get an idea of the people and their living conditions that I had read about in the GMI reports for quite some time. Furthermore, I wanted to learn more about the work of the local partner organizations.
That is why I didn’t think long when I got the chance to fly to Indonesia with Tobias. Since the people GMI helps live in slums, I was prepared to see poverty rather than expensive tourist centers.
Together with board member Tobias Schüßler you visited GMI-supported micro entrepreneurs in Bali and Lombok. What was your impression of these people and their small businesses?
The people live in almost unimaginable conditions, partly right next to the above-ground sewage system, some in small, often windowless rooms. At the same time, people’s joy of living is amazing. On the one hand, they accept their situation and try to make the best of it. On the other hand, they have an inexhaustible energy to build something up for themselves with the help of micro loans.
It was moving to see how they proudly showed us the progress they had made and the products they had produced, or how they explained the measures they had taken to – in some cases – double their income.
Is there an experience that moved/touched you particularly during your visit?
On the island of Bali, especially the situation of Ekta and her children affected me. By preparing fish balls and sticks and working for a delivery service she has an average income of 6 – 12 € per day. Ekta lives with her three children in a small room of about 20 square meters. On our arrival she invited us to her home. Apart from the mattress lying on the floor as sleeping place and living room at the same time, a television and music boxes were the most valuable possessions in the room, which was well filled with four people. With her two jobs she wants to finance the education of her children.
On the island of Lombok, the situation in the village of Sapit and the visit to Sopian was both moving and frightening for me. Sopian, who suffers from several physical handicaps, can now earn his living by roasting and selling coffee through the work of Gema Alam and GMI. He also proudly showed us the process of roasting the coffee beans. I was deeply impressed that people like him can be given such a perspective through microcredit and counseling.
What is your conclusion of your trip to Indonesia?
The encounters and experiences with the people were worth every cent. Especially the relationship between our prosperity and our problems compared to those of these people showed me how grateful I should be about my life situation. With that in mind, I became more motivated to support GMI even more in the future in order to make a better life possible for the local people.
Pictures taken by Conweimar