Inspiring communities

World News Day: Indonesian radio station gives jungle group a voice

The Orang Rimba are a native Jambi community who live nomadically in the forest as a group. For them, radio is the only medium they have to get information. PHOTO: ANTARA INDONESIA NEWS AGENCY, INDONESIA
The Orang Rimba are a native Jambi community who live nomadically in the forest as a group. For them, radio is the only medium they have to get information. PHOTO: ANTARA INDONESIA NEWS AGENCY, INDONESIA

As he usually does in the morning, Mr Madu, who like many Indonesians goes by just one name, greets his listeners before beginning his show. He runs his broadcast from a community radio station, Benor FM Radio, located in a remote area in Bukit Suban Village.

The village is located in the Air Hitam district of Sarulangun Regency in Jambi province.

Benor Radio was initiated by an NGO called the Indonesian Conservation Community Warsi.

It started its broadcast in 2013, and prioritises its radio programmes for the Anak Dalam, who are also known as the Orang Rimba ethnic group. The Orang Rimba are a native Jambi community who live nomadically in the forest as a group.

Mr Madu is a native broadcaster from the Orang Rimba. There are five other native jungle people who are broadcasters.

For the children of the Anak Dalam, it is not easy to learn to be an announcer. However, their willing attitudes have now made them broadcasters whose voices are eagerly awaited by the Orang Rimba in the forest and local residents.

By broadcasting the radio show to cover an area of 30km, the Benor Radio programmes can be heard by 80 per cent of the 2,546 jungle people in the national park area.

Benor Radio was established to deliver information to people who live in the forest and who are difficult to reach physically.

"To get information, Orang Rimba access is very limited. With the radio, it can provide information to the jungle people and the radio can be a learning medium for them," said Mr Jauharul Maknun, who is responsible for Benor FM Radio.

"Benor is also expected to become a media platform that bridges the gap between the jungle people and the surrounding community, reducing the negative stigma of outside communities towards the jungle people. We can provide understanding to the outside community about the jungle people," he added.

For the Orang Rimba, radio is the only medium they have to get information. Moreover, Benor Radio provides information about the arrival of health workers to the national park area. This is important to the Orang Rimba, whose secluded and nomadic lives in the forest often rob them of health facilities.

• This story was originally published in May.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2019, with the headline 'Indonesian radio station gives jungle group a voice'. Print Edition | Subscribe