A dream of mine was to build my own project and bring my ideas into the real world. It started in 2019 as idle conversation about how to make that dream come true, which it did when HIRAI was born in 2021 and won the support of the GLF through the Restoration Stewards program in 2022.
Figure 1. HIRAI’s co-founder with our project landowner
HIRAI started with a tree planting collaboration during a Dayak cultural festival (Dayaks are an ethnic group native to Borneo). During the pandemic, we ran a crowdfunding campaign for tree planting in Palangka Raya (a city in Central Kalimantan). At the time, we had an ambitious dream, but we lacked the funding to make it happen. With the GLF’s support, we were able to establish a foothold in Pulang Pisau and start our project with local communities and youth.
Figure 2. First journey as restoration stewards
To date, we have planted around 500 trees, working with five farmers, 16 community members, two government agencies and 15 youths, and earned recognition from an international organization to develop the project together.
Figure 3. HIRAI’s farmers and volunteer during field activity
During this journey with HIRAI and the GLF, I’ve discovered and learned a lot. I’ve learned how to better manage a project, connect with other stakeholders and become a better leader. I discovered that young people in Palangka Raya also need a way to reconnect with nature close to home, because many of them have heard about peat but never seen it in person.
Building a conservation project takes time. It’s not always easy or rewarding, and we sometimes need to change our approach, find solutions to existing problems, learn and unlearn things, and be humble enough to ask for help and support from others. But we persevere and are committed to doing what we can do now without worrying too much about what will happen in the future.