PCI Feature: Shifting Perspective with Surayah Ryha

Written by Dara Ayu Ariane, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Maintaining small tweaks in our daily habits can be a difficult thing to remember. What about being part of a solution for much bigger issues? Starting small can even feel like it’s getting us nowhere, but the small actions, like sustainable swaps, are still worth trying. With the struggles that come with the pandemic dwelling on us for a year, people don’t demand for mere simple changes but ones that can actually make a difference. The big and impactful change is no small feat, especially when it comes to poverty and environmental changes. Just because our hands may be tied in certain situations, doesn’t mean we can’t shift our perspectives differently. 

For this edition of PCI Feature we had an amazing chat with the Executive Director of Project Child Indonesia, Surayah Ryha, about what goes on behind the screen of running an NGO and how the people within Project Child Indonesia are working hand-in-hand to bring about change to its surrounding communities. 

A Shift in the Environment 

Before running Project Child Indonesia full-time Surayah Ryha, or Ayya as most of her co-workers like to call her, has been interested in environmental science and protection since 2004. In the same year, she took regional development studies in the Faculty of Geography at Gadjah Mada University and studied generally about the impacts that interaction of humans bring in shaping the Earth. She began to concentrate on coastal resources management, which is a generally rich area for the tropics and yet, the ones in Indonesia have a widespread poverty rate. 

She began to question, “Why do the people who live in the best part of our land become so poor?”, which ignited her interest in environmental politics and policy. Ten years later, after working as teaching assistants and interns for various organizations, she decided to work full-time to run Project Child Indonesia. 

With her background on in-depth environmental studies, Ayya considers people’s way of looking at nature has shifted, “When people talk about nature, we tend to focus on the natural world and take human activity out of the equation. But now, the perspective has shifted and it’s for the better.” Not only is nature just about the greens and aesthetics, humans as the species that influences our environment the most are also part of the bigger picture. 

As the co-founder of Project Child Indonesia, Ayya has been trying to put this perspective of nature into place. “What’s interesting here is how we work with kids ranging around 10 years old as our first beneficiary and youths at around 20 years old for our second beneficiary. As fun as it can be to talk about the environment to children, it is actually very important to discuss environmental issues with youths. They are lucky enough to study at universities, contribute to change, and would likely be in a position of change.” 

A Generation of Change 

Ayya shared that since the beginning, Project Child Indonesia has been focusing on teaching its volunteers and interns how to help create and be part of change. So unlike other NGOs in Yogyakarta, Project Child Indonesia focuses on both youth and children. “Since 2015, we have been able to create something better everyday alongside our interns and volunteers that come from a generation of change, high dynamic, creativity and motivation. And when we work with the best youths from this generation, the result is just incredible.” 

Indonesian education system does teach students about natural sciences, biology and the likes, but Ayya thinks that it needs to interlude with how we feel towards them more. We learn that plastic pollution can be extremely bad for the ocean, but schools don’t really teach students how they can be part of the solution.

The volunteers at Project Child Indonesia have brought their innovations to the learning table in many different forms. When it comes to teaching basic science, they tend to use 3D models, handcrafts and other different mediums. With the teachers at most public schools having their hands tied, organizations like Project Child Indonesia are ready to help marginalized communities around them. 

Aside from helping those in need, volunteers and interns will also build great determination, personal growth, and development during their 6 months period working at Project Child Indonesia. Alongside weekly feedback from professional supervisors, they are able to improve how they communicate with their surrounding communities, as well as constructing and reconstructing ideas that can offer even better ways to help others. 

Currently Project Child Indonesia isn’t open for internship or volunteer program but if you still want to make your mark, you can help support our programs by donating to our fundraising page, do fundraising with us using your own fun ideas, or become our partner!

We welcome anyone who shares the same excitement for the projects that we run, so don’t forget to follow us on Instagram to keep updated on our future plans and keep believing that “everyone can do good”

“Our brains develop as we grow, we re-learn so many things as we progress in life. This is the golden age for us to focus on what really matters to us, and Project Child Indonesia is very happy to be part of finding what really matters to you and all of us.” – Surayah Ryha, Executive Director at Project Child Indonesia

International Day of Forests 2021: A Healthy Forest Equals Our Well-being

Written by Safira Tafani Cholisi, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia

Every day we go about our lives in a set routine. We live and sleep in our house, take a meal three times a day, drink at least 2 liters of water, and perhaps read a book or use our laptop to study and work. However, it might rarely cross our mind that those daily activities are related to forests. In fact, sometimes we can completely forget that our wooden made chairs and tables come from the trees or that the water we drink is stored and captured by the forest roots. Forests play a crucial role in our lives and yet we are often oblivious to that fact and fail in protecting and conserving our nature and its resources.

It is reported that forests provide for the livelihoods and subsistence needs of approximately 1.6 billion people, some of which are indigenous communities (International Day of Forests 21 March, 2021). Not only a vital source of life for human beings, forests and tree covers also house a great variety of animals, plants, and insects. Some countries depend greatly on forests and their resources for collecting raw food materials and livestock as well as gathering wood necessary for economic activities. Of course, Indonesia is also a country that highly depends on forests.

Indonesia is known to be one of the countries with the largest landscape of tropical rainforests, spanning 98 million hectares or approximately half the size of the country’s territory (Indonesian Rainforests, 2021). These forests are home to a rich biodiversity of endangered species protected by the World Wildlife Fund. Despite this significance, Indonesian forests are annually losing their tree covers at an alarming speed. Studies believe that Indonesia loses a million hectares of its forest every year (Valuing the ecosystem of the Indonesian rainforest, 2021), while Global Forest Watch reports that Indonesia faced a 17% decrease in tree cover since 2000. This decrease is calculated to have increased 10.9Gt unabsorbed CO2 emissions (Tree Cover Loss in Indonesia, 2021). Accelerated deforestation and illegal logging are highly interlinked with increasing disaster risks such as landslides and floods. Indubitably, this poses a serious threat to the ecosystems, economic activities, and health of Indonesians, particularly those living in disaster-prone areas. 

Recognizing the imminent need to conserve nature and protect forests across the world, the United Nations General Assembly declared 21 March as the International Day of Forests (International Day of Forests, 2021). To raise awareness of the importance of forests and their preservation, individuals, and organizations around the world are encouraged to participate in conservation and preservation activities and efforts, including tree-planting campaigns and sustainability movements. The celebration this year adopts the theme of “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being” in order to remind us that forests are inherently linked to our daily lives and provide the resources for our subsistence and living. Thus, by restoring forest conditions, we are also contributing to ensuring our own well-being.

Can you participate in this celebration? Definitely! There are many ways in which you can contribute to raising awareness about the environmental threats faced by our forests and to protect their existence. You can join a nearby tree-planting campaign organized by local communities and obtain seeds to plant. Reducing personal consumption of unsustainable materials made from forest resources, including paper and wood-based products is also a form of a concrete contribution. And if you’re not tight on cash, you can donate to programs and organizations working towards forest conservation and environmental sustainability. All of these deeds are just some of the ways in which you can do good, and we believe that you can always do good no matter how little your participation is!


Rainforest Action Network. 2021. Indonesian Rainforests. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 March 2021].

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2021. International Day of Forests. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 March 2021].

United Nations. 2021. International Day of Forests 21 March. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 March 2021].

Global Forest Watch. 2021. Tree Cover Loss in Indonesia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 March 2021].

GreenFacts. 2021. Valuing the ecosystem of the Indonesian rainforest. [online] Available at: <,the%20national%20and%20global%20level.> [Accessed 15 March 2021].

Climate Change in Indonesia: Flood as an Environmental Disaster

Written by Safira Tafani Cholisi, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia

You might be familiar with the term ‘climate change’. It has been a primary topic of discourse around the world, ranging from governments, business corporations, non-governmental organizations and even private individuals. Climate change is an environmental process where the temperature of the Earth increases due to the heightening level of greenhouse gases produced by human activities, subsequently causing a shift in the regularity of climate conditions around the globe (What is climate change? A really simple guide, 2020). It is known to be one of the most dangerous threats for humanity as changing climate conditions can lead to rain and snowstorms or the opposite such as drought and erosion. Inevitably, this directly impacts daily human activities in a range of sectors including agriculture, food production, and health.

However, this environmental catastrophe actually poses a more pressing threat to developing countries. Most are  geographically located around the equator, making the temperatures naturally warmer. Reasonably, climate change will only increase the already high temperatures in these countries. According to the World Bank, 100 million people could be dragged under the poverty line by 2030 due to the impacts of climate change (Climate Change and the Developing World: A Disproportionate Impact, 2020). Considering that developing countries mostly depend on natural resources and agriculture for economic growth, the direct consequences of climate change will challenge the economic resilience of these countries. Indonesia as a developing country itself is not exempted from these impacts.

As observed through various media and news channels, Indonesia has recently been hit by severe flooding in areas around the country. Earlier this year, intense rainfall and extreme weather conditions caused severe flooding in South Kalimantan. The flood lasted for more than two weeks and is estimated to have affected 712,129 people and displaced more than 110,000 (South Kalimantan Flood a Gloomy Picture of Natural Destruction, 2021). Additionally, the calculated loss in several sectors including agriculture and fishery sector reaches almost IDR 100 billion. Just last week, houses and buildings were awash by severe flooding in Jakarta and surrounding areas (Paat, 2021). Jakarta is notorious for being a hotspot for flash floods for a number of reasons such as uncontrolled groundwater drainage and rising sea levels. While these cases of floods are classified as natural disasters, it is undebatable that both climate change and our involvement has played a part in exacerbating this issue.

The causes of floods in Indonesia are mainly attributed to three factors: loss of tree cover, extreme weather and topography (Sulaeman, Pradana & Hamzah, 2019). However, illegal logging and mining as well as wild forest fires are some of the man-controlled causes of the loss of green spaces in Kalimantan forests. Without tree covers to facilitate water absorption by soil, sudden increase of water volume from extreme rainfall becomes uncontainable and leads to flooding. Climate change further aggravates this condition as higher global temperature causes rising sea levels due to ice melting in the polar regions. In fact, rising sea levels are one of the primary factors behind the prediction of Jakarta’s submergence by 2050 (Mulhern, 2020). These predictions do not only seem terrible and frightening, but they also threaten our wellbeing, particularly those most disadvantaged and marginalized without secure economic safety nets.

Are you wondering about what we can do to face this difficult challenge? There are many actions that we, as an individual, can do to reduce the damages of climate change. You can learn about what climate change is and how it can pervasively impact our lives both individually and collectively through various free learning platforms in your local community library or even the internet. Local organizations can also be a starting point for you to connect with your surrounding community and environment and contribute to social work and mutual aid. Project Child Indonesia recognizes that environmental and disaster issues are pressing to our local communities and incorporates disaster risk management lessons in some of its programs such as Sekolah Sungai and Sekolah Pantai. Whatever it is that you do to act on the danger of climate change, it is a huge step to do good to your community and environment. In resonance with Project Child Indonesia’s motto, “Everyone Can Do Good”, we believe that you too can also do good.

Photo Credit: CNN


BBC. 2020. What is climate change? A really simple guide. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 February 2021].

KOMPAS. 2021. South Kalimantan Flood a Gloomy Picture of Natural Destruction. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 February 2021].

Mulhern, O., 2020. Sea Level Rise Projection Map – Jakarta. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 February 2021].

Paat, Y., 2021. Weekend Floods Force Hundreds to Leave Home in Jakarta. [online] Jakarta Globe. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 February 2021].

Sulaeman, D., Pradana, A. and Hamzah, H., 2019. 3 Main Causes of Floods in Indonesia and How to Prevent Them. [online] WRI Indonesia. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 February 2021].

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. 2020. Climate Change and the Developing World: A Disproportionate Impact. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 February 2021].

Between The Environment and The Pandemic

Written by Nindy Silvia Anggraini, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia 

In recent years many environmental issues have been called for, especially about plastic waste. Various trends have emerged ranging from the use of straws, drinking bottles, cutlery, and shopping bags that are environmentally friendly and can be used repeatedly. Making the sea turtles and habitats as the object of cruel attention to plastic waste that is not managed wisely by humans. In addition to the use of environmentally friendly goods, there is a suggestion for eating at the place / dine-in at the restaurant to reduce food/beverage takeaway and also delivery orders. But once the Covid-19 pandemic appeared, all the calls seemed to be forgotten. As recommended by the government, restaurants can only serve to take away and deliver orders. For example, what happened in the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta, before the implementation of the PSBB (Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, from the daily waste volume of 7,500 to 8,000 tons/day was reduced by 620 tons/day. Doesn’t that mean the volume of waste is decreasing?

Overall the volume of waste has indeed declined, but there has been a shift in the waste-producing sector. Head of DKI Jakarta Environment Agency, H Andono Warihm, said that during the PSBB period, the volume of plastic waste generated by households was higher than before the pandemic. Of course, this happened because there was a shift in the consumption patterns of the people from those who could freely eat at restaurants or buy drinks with their drinking bottles, also shop at supermarkets with their shopping bags, now everything must be done online. Food and beverage delivery orders, online shopping for daily necessities, to necessities such as clothing and household appliances also require plastic bags or other types of waste that are not environmentally friendly.

We can’t just shut up and close our eyes knowing this fact, right? We must be able to pay attention to the environment while still obeying rules according to health protocols. The simplest way we can start in our kitchen. Cooking our food is the easiest way to stay concerned about the environment at a time like this. Besides, we can also pay attention to our daily nutrition intake and fill our free time during quarantine or work from the home period. What’s more, we don’t need to worry about viruses because we don’t make physical contact through any objects with strangers. But, we need to pay attention to food ingredients and wash everything before consuming it!


The Earth is Burning, But You Can Help!

Written by Graciella Stephanie Ganadhi, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia

Do you notice that the earth is getting hotter and hotter every time? Not to mention the random heavy rain in a dry season? Without us noticing, the earth is burning up. Last year, there was the incident of the Amazon forest burning up. This year, Australian bushfire happened. Rainforests in Kalimantan were also burning up due to the intense heat. These incidents are not an incident at all, it all could’ve been prevented. It was our fault, humans fault. We exploit the environment and when nature is trying to get us back, we are left helpless. In all those forest fires, millions of animals lost their home and their life. Millions of plants burnt to ashes. Now, more than one million animals and plants are in the brink of extinction. All because of our ego. We take, take, and take without ever giving back.

Regardless of whether you actually care or not, you can do something. You live here too, the least you can do is help to take care of our earth. It doesn’t have to be a drastic measure, small things if being done continuously will end up being a huge help.

Here are some things that you can do to help and it’s free, so you have no excuse not to do it!

  1. Walk, walk, walk. Walking will decrease carbon footprint because you literally emit 0 harmful gas to the air. If you must go somewhere far and it’s possible to be done, take public transportation, you’ll share the carbon footprint of the vehicle.
  1. Stop using plastic. Plastic harms the ocean and the land. It pollutes the water and land, it destroys the balance in nature. Not to mention it also disturbs animals’ food chain. Straws is not the only problem, though. Single use plastic bags and plastic cups are a bigger threat to the environment. Exchange the plastics with reusable cups, bags, and straws.
  1. Recycle! Separate your trash bins. Recycle the plastics and paper and reuse the organic trash. Waste management helps the air, water, and land pollution.

We only have one planet, there is nothing else. If we don’t take care of it, it will turn its back on us and we have nowhere to go. Take care of it now, take small steps but give big impacts.


Raising Awareness on Climate Change Issues Through Education

Written by Sekar Ningtyas Kinasih, Content Writer
Project Child Indonesia

Many scientists have stated if our future generations will face severe issues about climate change, where human beings play the role in rising temperatures around the world. The worse thing is that climate change turns out to be a threat to a child’s opportunity to live, survive and thrive. We often witness that extreme weather such as heat waves rise in frequency and severity, then it threatens children’s lives in several chronic diseases such as renal disease, respiratory disease, fever, and electrolyte imbalance. Floods effects poor water and sanitation facilities, then cause cholera while the children are vulnerable to it. Crop failure caused by the changing of rainfall season and aridity, leading to the rise of food prices that make a lower class economy society would be hard to obtain adequate nutrition that can have lifelong impacts on their health.

Over these cases, we know if climate change has become an urgent issue requiring a global movement, one of which is through education. According to UNESCO, education is a critical tool to help the populations in understanding the impacts of climate change and encourage them to transform behavior to practice more sustainable lifestyles, participate in decision making and take action as soon as possible. They also promote Climate Change Education (ECC) to support the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). UNESCO provides guidelines on how to introduce “climate literacy” that becomes government responsibility to involve climate change education towards all levels and components of the education system. It requires strong coordination, support and many resources such as establish curriculum and build teaching methods in schools.

Based on the World Values Survey in 2005-2008 of 47 countries, the people who possess a higher level of education tend to express more concern for the environment. Besides, when in the 2010-2012 World Values Survey asked the participants to choose between protecting the environment versus boosting the economy, the results showed that secondary education preferred the environment more than those with less than secondary education. In separate semi-arid areas of China, farmers who have an adequate educational background are likely to use rainwater harvesting and supplementary irrigation technology to relieve water scarcity. Likewise in the Netherlands and Spain, the more educated people the more they consider to use less energy at home, save much water and control their consumption with environmental harm limitation.

Since it becomes very clear that human actions seriously affect environmental disrepute and climate issues, education should be a limelight to get sharpened and tap their potential. And yet, we do know that it’s really hard to change our attitudes on the preservation of the environment overnight, as well as to complete education courses through formal to informal that going to takes time. But still, the various threats that are not trivial by these issues have assumed an unprecedented pressing to which we are all responsible to do something.