Dompet Dhuafa turning 20, and a few surprises!

So it was day 3 in Indonesia. The previous 2 days were quite productive, eventhough I hadn’t really started my work yet. On Saturday evening, after returning from Smart Ekselensia, I thought, like almost everyone everywhere, I would have a day off on a Sunday. However, I was told that it was Dompet Dhuafa’s 20th Anniversary the next day (Sunday) and I was invited. Ofocurse, I couldnt miss it so I accepted the invitation.

I was told to get up really early in the morning. I thought waking up at 6AM or 7AM would do, but to my surprise, they wanted me up by 4AM. I was told that it was a “No-car day” in Indonesia on that Sunday. Still puzzled by the 4AM wake up time, I came home and quickly googled what the No-car day actually meant (if the name wasnt obvious enough), and then it all made sense. Apparently Indonesia is one of the few countries that has this day when there arent any cars or any sort of vehicles allowed on the road – except busses, and other emergency vehicles.

Nevertheless, it was 4AM when I woke up the next day and was greeted by two of Masyarakat Mandiri’s people, and the driver. The streets were empty and it was quite dark. We had to travel from Serpong (which was where my temporary hotel accommodation was before Bangor) to Jakarta. Normally on a typical traffic day, it would have taken us about 2 hours. However, since the streets were empty, we reached Jakarta by 5AM, prayed Fajr, and then went to the function area. The whole function began at around 7AM, and since it was a No-car day, everyone in Jakarta were on foot and out on the streets, bridges, and highways. It was quite exciting for me as I had NEVER come across such a thing (not even in the developed countries).

I was asked to wear a special printed Tshirt that highlighted Dompet Dhuafa and said something in the Indonesian language. It was after wearing the Tshirt that I realised that I wasnt the only one wearing it. There were probably a thousand other people with the same Tshirt. I couldnt really understand as to why we were wearing the Tshirt, until the people at Masyarakat Mandiri (wearing the same Tshirt), took me to this enormous gathering of people. Turns out, I was in a walking marathon that was organized by Dompet Dhuafa, on the occasion of No-car day along with its 20th Anniversary! Again, it was a very new thing for me.

People wearing DD's Tshirt for the marathon event
People wearing DD’s Tshirt for the marathon eventCelebrations on DD's 20th AnniversaryCelebrations on DD’s 20th AnniversaryTeachers from Smart Ekselensia Teachers from Smart Ekselensia in the event

The moment we set foot on the streets of Jakarta, we were immediately a part of various other walking marathons and groups. It actually reminded me of a movie where all forms of transportation was dead and almost everyone was out in the city….only here, we all were happy instead of terrified like in the movie :D The entire function was really good, as it not only had entertainment, but also had various stalls. These stalls ranged from food stalls to free medical check-ups. I was told that the food stalls were the ones that had received help from Dompet Dhuafa and Masyarakat Mandiri to start up as a small business. Well, their small business seemed to be running quite smoothly.

People on the streets of Jakarta
People on the streets of Jakarta

Anyway, I never really read completely about the No-car day and thought it was going to last the entire day. Since my hotel was 2 hours away on normal traffic, I calculated that it would take me 8 hours to walk back home! That was something I could not stop thinking about. But to my relief, once the function was over by noon, I realised that the No-car day only lasts from 7AM to noon. I was probably one of the happiest people in the world at that time! By the end of the function, I met with the officials from Dompet Dhuafa. They had a few pictures taken with me, spoke with me about the function and also taught me a few Indonesian words to get me started :)

With the heads of Dompet Dhuafa towards the end of the function
With the heads of Dompet Dhuafa towards the end of the function

I had something to eat, documented everything, and went back to my hotel by evening. It was an amazing day for me as I had never seen a No-car day, never seen the entire city on foot on the streets together, or never been to a walking marathon. Sure, the day might have been tiring, but honestly, it was a day I can never forget. So far, I’ve spent only 3 days (well, 2 days and 3 nights) in Indonesia, and I came across so many new things. A day well spent!

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