My Jakarta: Alia Noor Aloviar, Leprosy Survivor Advocate

By webadmin on 05:17 pm Feb 19, 2012
Category Archive

Eduardo Mariz

University student Alia Noor Aloviar really cares about people. The 20-year-old is studying human resources and
in her free time volunteers with  the Nalacity Foundation, a organization that helps provide leprosy survivors — who often find themselves stigmatized by society — with a way to provide for their families.

Ali shares with My Jakarta the challenges faced by leprosy survivors and how Nalacity is helping them earn a living.

To find out more about the Nalacity Foundation and purchase veils, visit
www.nalacity.com.

How did Nalacity come about?

The Nalacity Foundation was founded in 2010 by five high-performing students from University of Indonesia, all members of the Indonesia Leadership Development Program (ILDP). The foundation was started as a class assignment to develop a social entrepreneurship project.

Jay, one of the co-founders, came up with the idea of helping leprosy survivors from Sitanala, Tangerang [West Jakarta]. He saw them every day on his way to university and their impoverished lives inspired him to do something to help. The others liked the idea so they started working on it. The university funded the initiative for the first three months and from there we, now 20 volunteers, kept it going.

What does Nalacity do for ex-patients of leprosy?

Leprosy can cause lifelong deformities making it very difficult for those cured to find jobs. Nalacity aims to empower them by providing jobs with fair compensation. We sell veils made by female survivors and give the money back to them. Right now, we are working with about 20 former patients.

The veils come in boxes that contain information about our work and how the purchase empowers people’s lives and helps them form a stronger community. At the moment we have three different designs but we are considering expanding the range. It’s a unique product. People don’t only get a veil, they also get to help empower leprosy survivors.

Veils are available at charity fairs and online for 65,000 Rp ($7.20).

Why did you decide to volunteer at Nalacity? And what are your duties?

I wanted to help people less fortunate than myself and fight discrimination. I saw on Facebook there were openings for volunteer positions so I decided to apply. I was selected along with a few other UI students and joined Nalacity in November.

I’m currently a manager for research and development. I research things like customer preferences to help expand our product range. Occasionally, I lend a hand to the media division to gain more exposure by attending meetings at the Ministry of Health, seminars or helping journalists write articles on leprosy.

What have you achieved in Nalacity so far?

I’ve been trying my best to inform people about Nalacity. Two weeks ago, I attended a press conference at the Ministry of Health and I tried to gain the interest of reporters.

What would you like the public to know about leprosy?

I would ask them to rethink how they see leprosy victims and discriminate against them. The survivors in places like Sitanala are only there because their communities, even their families, don’t want them back.

Sitanala village is a makeshift settlement in government-owned lands near the Sitanala leprosy hospital; any urban development plans could have them evicted. We need their families and communities to welcome them back or get the government to provide adequate housing.

After treatment, leprosy is no longer infectious so no one should fear contact with ex-patients.

Have any of the survivors been particularly inspired?

Yes, Mrs. Emi is a former patient who has lived at Sitanala since 1998. She lost a foot during the course of her disease and finds it difficult to pay for her son’s elementary school. Working with Nalacity she has been able to make some extra money, but she still struggles to pay for books and other things for her son.

Besides volunteering for Nalacity, what else do you do?

I’m a third year student at the University of Indonesia majoring in human resources management. It’s an unusual choice, only 12 out of 250 management students are majoring in HR, but I always like being part of the minority. I think HR management is a field where demand is growing, just look at how many industrial disputes we have. I’d like to become a HR consultant and help solve this.

Alia Noor Aloviar was talking to Eduardo Mariz