Puppet Masters Promote Family Planning
Yogyakarta. Traditional Javanese leather puppets were used here during an overnight performance over the weekend, part of a pilot program to draw attention to family-planning.
However, in an ironic twist, the puppet master, Sugito Purbo Carito, 69, had to admit that he himself had 13 children, 28 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. “At least I can tell the younger generation not to have as many children as I have had,” he said before the performance.
Non-profit, US-based NGO Dharmendra Kumar Tyagi (DKT), which takes its name from that of a former famous Indian family planning adviser, organized the event as part of a family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention program, with Sugito given the task of incorporating the issues into his work with the puppets.
DKT Indonesia director Todd Callahan said it was felt the show was relevant as a vehicle for learning again about family planning, as people had begun to forget the subject. “We selected a cultural approach. Leather puppets are familiar in daily life, particularly on Java island, the most densely populated island in Indonesia,” he said on Sunday.
Callahan said DKT, which began its Indonesian role in 1996, now runs the largest family-planning program of its type in the world. Beside family-planning and HIV/AIDS-prevention programs, DKT also supplies affordable condoms, contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices.
The weekend show played to a large audience and was also broadcast to villages in the Yogyakarta Special Province.
Rohmad Hadiwijoyo, the head of the Indonesia Puppeteers Association (Pepadi) for Jakarta, said leather puppet shows had been used as an effective family planning campaign program during late President Suharto’s era.
“Village residents are the focus of the program,” he said. “Indonesia even received a United Nations Population Award in 1989 for success in its family planning program.
“Beside the cultural approach, ulema are also important to endorse family planning as halal, and support its implementation. We, the puppet masters, are ready to help.
“The family planning program, which was very intense during the New Order era, and disappeared during the Reformation era, can be revitalized. Family planning is needed to reduce the population explosion.”
After Yogyakarta, similar shows will be held in Salatiga with duo-puppet masters Enthus Susmono and Joko Edan; and in Wonogiri with puppet master Anom Suroto.