BEKASI, NETRALNEWS.COM - The chirping of sparrows can be heard loudly in the shade of the guava tree. That morning at the end of April, Rohmatulloh, also known as Rahmat, was engrossed in various types of cultivation in his yard. Water spinach, pakcoy and lettuce in the pipes of the paralon are neatly lined up, while under them catfish and tilapia swim in their respective ponds.
For two years, Rahmat pioneered Karang Bening Hydrofarm, a hydroponic vegetable cultivation which is also one of the productive economic efforts of Karang Taruna Jatibening, or Jatibening Youth Organization. Claimed to be healthier and fresher because it does not contain pesticides, Rahmat did not expect that this hydroponic vegetable garden would become a byword.
"At first I planted hydroponic vegetables as a stress reliever after a long day of work. When I posted it on social media, it turned out that many people loved it," said Rahmat, who established Karang Taruna Jatibening in 2001.
Thanks to word of mouth promotion, Karang Bening Hydrofarm is now known as a hydroponic education center in Bekasi City. Apart from educational tours, Karang Taruna Jatibening also serves hydroponic installations. A number of farmer groups were formed in Jatibening Village, as well as PKK, Youth Groups and community services centers which held productive activities around hydroponic vegetables.
"Every time we harvest, we sent SMS to the residents of Jatibening informing them about the sale of vegetables so that they will be recorded later. The turnover per harvest can be hundreds of thousands," said Rahmat.
Not only hydroponic cultivation, Karang Taruna Jatibening has empowered used cooking oil as proof of its seriousness towards the issue of environmental pollution in their area.
"So far, used cooking oil is simply thrown into gutters and soil, thus clogging waterways and reducing nutrients in the soil," he said.
At the end of 2020, the Used Used Oil Bank began operating, where used cooking oil was purchased from residents for IDR3,000 per kiloram, which was then sold back to collectors for IDR7,000.
"The profit from used cooking oil becomes passive income which we use for operational costs for social activities," said Rahmat.
Karang Taruna Jatibening also cares about education by eliminating all Package A, B and C School Equality Examinations for residents who have dropped out of school and the Iqra and Al-Quran Learning Center, English and various skills for students. The flow of donations from donors and the operational costs of the Bekasi City Education Office starting this year smoothed this noble intention.
"Before the pandemic, teaching and learning activities were conducted at the pavilion next to the house, but now they are carried out online and rotating weekly from one neighborhood to another," said the Head of the Karang Taruna Jatibening Advisory Council and the Chair of the Jatibening Community Empowerment Institute.
Cultural aspects have not escaped the attention of the Jatibening Youth Organization. As a youth organization born in Betawi culture, Karang Taruna Jatibening respects and preserves the culture of its ancestors by establishing the Intiraga Silbet Pencak Silat Studio. They have also held the Cultural Jatibening Festival twice, featuring various Betawi art performances.
Not only that, Karang Taruna Jatibening, which often appears in various competition activities, has won first place in the Cross Door Festival held by the South Tangerang City Culture and Tourism Office.
"During the pandemic, the performance hours began to be quiet because of the PSBB. Alhamdulillah, last year we were invited by the West Java Culture and Tourism Office to hold online cultural activities, and were given a grant of IDR10 million," Rahmat recalled.
Receiving the title as the best Youth Organization in Bekasi City in 2005, Karang Taruna Jatibening has proven to be swift in helping others, including advocating for public health assistance to hospitals, establishing posts and public kitchens for flood victims, and the 'Smiles for Orphans' program.
"The synergy between Karang Taruna and Jatibening Village has gone hand in hand with parents and children," said Tri Wahyudi, Head of Social Welfare in Jatibening Village as well as Principal and Teaching Volunteer at the Jatibening Learning House.
With a series of achievements and contributions that have been given to the community, it is no wonder that Karang Taruna Jatibening has been named a pilot project for the Youth Organization in Bekasi City. However, who would have thought that Karang Taruna Jatibening had been on hiatus for 7 years in 2009-2016 due to various other activities.
"Alhamdulillah (thank God), thanks to the support of Jatibening Urban Village, we can be active again until now," said Syaiful Anwar, the current head of the Jatibening Youth Organization.
The solidarity of the Karang Taruna Jatibening cannot be separated from the sense of social volunteerism which is the driving force of each of its members. Rahmat, Tri and Syaiful agreed that they should be role models for members.
"Show what a sense of social volunteerism is, surely the members can see and understand it. For example, we started the 'Smiles for Orphans' program with our own capital. "The second time, the members took the initiative to support them because they felt the benefits of the activity," said Rahmat.
What needs to be remembered, continued Rahmat, is that Karang Taruna does not move for personal interests, but to improve the standard of living, health, order and the community environment.
"As the nation's next generation, young people must be visionary by carrying out creative activities and making the environment better," said Rahmat.
Therefore, moral and material guidance for youth, especially Karang Taruna, is expected.
"With the role of the central and local governments and regulations that emphasize the development of youth, we hope that young people are considered a part of security so that if we foster them, we are safe," he said.