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Providing hooks instead of giving fish

The office and staff as well as "mission & vision" of the GBKP Credit Union in North Sumatra (photos: GBKP)

The historical back ground of Credit Union “Gotong Royong” was beginning when the earth disaster of big flash flood in Bukit Lawang last November 3, 2003 hit and swept over the houses hotels, inns and business of the community along the streams of the river and up to the hills. The tragedy which made the economy of the community slumped. Almost all levels of society were affected by that disaster, and the lives of victims and refugees at that time only depended on the assistance and contributions of various parties and institutions both domestic and foreign. GBKP through Yayasan Ate Keleng (YAK) was one of them who very aggressively gave contributions and also as a facilitator to help the victims and distribute the donations from UEM which was mostly channeled to the congregational members of GBKP Runggun Gotong Royong.

The assistance and donations in the distribution sometimes cause many problems and commotion, plus the mental problems experienced by the victims. At that time the last aid funds from UEM with total amount of 50 million Rupiah through YAK had not been distributed.
YAK realized that the previous distribution model of the aids was not a smart solution to overcome the problem, then together with the Diaconia of GBKP YAK initiated an empowerment concept by “providing the hooks instead of giving the fish”, by trying to form a Credit Union. After going through various consultations, training and supervising from various parties, it was agreed the formation of Credit Union in January 2005. The 50 million Rupiah funds were distributed to the victims with a total of 500,000 Rupiahs per family and the remaining 12,500,000 Rupiahs were donated to the initial capital of Credit Union with 40 members. Not all the victims became members of the Credit Union due to several reasons.

At the first two years was the most difficult phase so far, because there were many scorns and apathy, enthusiasm of members was very low. The growth of new members was low, plus some old members were quit. The deposit amount was also low. The committees tried to dismantle this apathy by applying the principles of financial transparency, promotion to the community and trying to make new programs every year such as internal socialization in the second year, inviting YAK to make training and so on.

Gradually, slowly but surely people's trust begins to improve and up to now almost more than 90% of the families GBKP congregation's are members of Credit Union, plus the general communities in the four surrounding villages. The growth of new members starting in the third year was in the range of 10-15% per year.

At the beginning of “Gotong Royong” Credit Union establishment, there was reaping many pros-contras and scorns even from the church elements of elders and deacons. There was a doubt that the existences of Credit Union will not long lasting. But in fact, the progress of “Gotong Royong” Credit Union was very rapid. From 2005-2008 the secretariat and the place for loan and saving activity was still in the church building of GBKP Runggun Gotong Royong, in 2009-2016 it was moving to the Building of Sunday School, and from August 2016 until now “Gotong Royong” Credit Union already has its own building as a Secretariat and place for loan and saving activity.

The donations with the amount of IDR 500.000 per family indeed will cost nothing if the receiver as the victim of natural disaster just received it. It can only support their lives for two or three days if they just spent it for daily needs. But since we distributed the donation as their savings account in Credit Union which is managed by their own, using the capitals for their own and the interests of Credit Union loans is also for the benefits of the members, gradually they can rose from the downturn and adversity due to the disaster. This can be a role model in the future in helping the victims of natural disasters, “providing the hooks instead of giving the fish”.

Pastor Agustinus Purba, MTh - Moderamen (church leader) of the Karo Batak Church (GBKP) in North Sumatra (Indonesia)

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