My name is Novia Sagita. I was born in Pontianak and I’m the youngest in my family with four sisters, four brothers and dozens of nieces and nephews. My mother died about 11 years ago and my father is a healthy 86 year old man now. I’m half Dayak, half Arabic, raised in Malayu tradition and believe in God as the almighty one and prophet Muhammad is the great faith messenger. Although raised in a Muslim way of life, I think my sisters, my brothers and I are lucky that our parents taught us to never look down and to respect to other religions.
“For them it is what they believed and for us it is what we believe,” my late mother taught me this well.
Since the beginning of high school I became interested in English which I believed would introduce me to the rest of the world. As I said it out loud when one of my brothers asked me where I want to go someday “I want to go to see other countries and meet people with different colors!”
After I finished high school my mother wanted me to be a lawyer and sent me to a justice academy school in Jakarta. This school belonged to the Indonesian Government, although I was highly successful there, I dropped it because I didn’t like the amount of bureaucracy. I came back to my home town and decided to put up life on my own.
Luckily, in 1996 I was introduced to an American couple who just started a NGO based in Pontianak, called People, Resources and Conservation Foundation (PRCF). Through this job I was introduced to fields of conservation and community development. I was incredibly fortunate to have direct involvement in facilitating project activities in the field with local communities.
Afterwards, I joined KOBUS Foundation in Sintang, Kalimantan. This NGO works towards a revival of Dayak traditional textile. It was through KOBUS Foundation I discovered my passion for the subject of ‘material culture’ especially the Dayak traditional weavings and textile works. One of our projects was to establish a secure economy for the weavers; therefore, we could preserve culture while also providing a sustainable income for the women.
The art works from the Dayak involved with KOBUS are one of the highest qualities and most acknowledged not only throughout Indonesia but on an international level as well. In addition to my involvement with the KOBUS Foundation, I had a chance to work together with the community and received full support from the government to establish an ethnography museum in Sintang region. It is now known as Museum Kapuas Raya. This also lead to a fellowship from the Ford Foundation to study Museum preservation techniques at Denver University in America.
So, these experiences lead me to my work today with Planet Indonesia, and ultimately arriving at the question: “Why do we do need to connect conservation and cummunity development?”
Conservation is a tool to protect our environment, to keep it, to sustain it. Ultimately, it can help us to support human life at the present and the future. Community development increases the quality and capacity of human life through self-reliance based and sustainability. These two concepts are inevitably connected, and when in harmony, give balance and advantage to each other. As the new paradigme says “environmental preservation can not be separated from cultural preservation.”
To conlude, I joined Planet Indonesia because of its new, good, young, and healthy energy. We are bringing a new perspective and new techniques to tackle these issues. I am excited to work together with the community (especially women) through our development program to reinforce the power and build local capacity. Moreover, I am excited to be tying our community development programs with sustainable resource use to increase quality and capacity of life for all.