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 Kitabisa.com 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