Day 8: March 5, 2015

The concept of duality is one that has surfaced consistently during our trip, but one that we were finally able to understand fully today. If you have been following us on social media or through the blog, you are most likely aware of the influential leaders we have met and breathtaking places we’ve visited thus far. We have seen first-hand how significant economic growth has transformed the skylines of Doha, Hong Kong, and Jakarta, as well as the lives of those living in these cities and in the surrounding areas. Equally, however, rapid globalization and marketization have also lead to inequality and marginalization of vulnerable and less competitive social groups, particularly in Indonesia.

Indeed, as we learned during our first meeting today with Communications and Nutrition specialists of the UN World Food Program, inefficiencies in distribution systems across the Indonesia’s thousands of islands, as well as inadequacies of vital infrastructure impede access to food products at prices affordable for the nation’s rural and urban poor. Consequently, both malnutrition and stunting of physical and cognitive development remain significant problems throughout Indonesia, and the WFP is working extremely hard combat these manifestations of hunger.

One aspect of the WFP’s vision that particularly resonated with a lot of us was the fact that the organization is focused primarily on assisting communities so that they can achieve self-sufficiency. As Marcellinus Jerry Winata, ___ stated during the meeting: “We do not plan on being here forever, nor do we want to be.”

From the WFP, we slid right into the Ogilvy’s office… literally. Ogilvy’s very informal office and relaxed environment matched the company’s creative and dynamic approach to advertising. We learned about the Indonesian culture of collectivism from a different standpoint and how it changes the marketing playing field from one country to another.

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The company culture allowed us to further explore the concept of living in duality by understanding that their advertising techniques and campaigns must be balanced between reconciling faith, tradition and modernity in a non-Muslim country. Clearly explained to the students of McGill, Ogilvy’s representatives stated that Indonesia is not a Muslim country, but a country filled with Muslims.

After the meeting, we quick change from suits to head over to XS Project. We were welcomed with open arms as an authentic Indonesian lunch was prepared and waiting for us. Seeing as we were the first international group to spend time with the workers, they were more than pleased to have us at the office. We had a chance to interact with the workers of XS Project and learn more about their lives and the trash picking community. Trash pickers, most generally men, work to pick up trash all day to create some kind of income for their families by selling the trash to XS Project.

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Visiting the community is an experience that is difficult to put into words. Upon getting off the bus, we immediately were struck with the smell of garbage, which the entire community surrounded. The government is responsible to pick up this garbage, however it seems as though it had been there for weeks. We were greeted by a chorale of infant voices eagerly waiting with curiosity and nervousness. After distributing their afternoon snack, we were able to connect and play with the children, who showed us around their community and home. Despite the conditions of extreme poverty, the children and families were very welcoming and seemed happy to be together, and taught us a valuable lesson of humility. Significantly, a mere 500 meters community lay a brand new housing development: demonstrating the true inequality of living in duality.

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The XS project could not be a more worthy cause, and we experienced first-hand the difference that they are making to the lives of the most vulnerable members of society in Jakarta. Every dollar makes a huge difference; below is the link to donate to our cause:

https://www.globalgiving.org/fundraisers/hot-cities-xsproject/

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