Cover Thousands of Kilometers, Skip the Obstacles, for the Future

Fans of musician Iwan Fals may be familiar when reading the title above. The song 'Ibu,' released in 1988, tells how a mother struggles to survive and fight for her children and inspires those around her. The music is very relevant to the struggle of Iis Marwati, a formidable woman born in 1985 in Mawu Village, Bima, West Nusa Tenggara.

Iis, as he is usually called. From Bima, he moved to Borneo, precisely in Labanan Jaya Village, Teluk Bayur District, Berau, East Kalimantan. With high dedication, he continues to transform to empower village communities and support Berau's sustainable nature.

Photo Caption Iis Marwati, Berau Prosperous Alert Warrior. From facilitator to village secretary, he is known to have a high fighting spirit. © YKAN


He has been a Prosperous SIGAP Warrior (PSS) for Berau Regency since 2019. PSS is a mentoring program from the Berau Regency Government, working with parties who are members of a joint consortium. Namely, the Berau Regency Government, represented by the Berau Village Community Empowerment Service, the Nusantara Nature Conservation Foundation, the Darma Bhakti Berau Coal Foundation, and Gajah Mada University as the program manager.

SIGAP, or  Aksi Inspiratif Warga untuk Perubahan, is a community-based approach to protecting and saving forests, emphasizing the village's potential-based approach.

Being a facilitator who accompanies the village community, Iis' task is more challenging than one might imagine. At the start of his assignment, he was placed in Muara Lesan Village, Kelay District, Berau, about 14 kilometers from Trans Kalimantan Road. Even though the residents did not accept it, with enthusiasm, totality, and ability to adapt, his efforts paid off. In the end, he received full support from the government of Kampung Muara Lesan in carrying out mentoring tasks at the site level.

As a PSS, Iis facilitates regional governance, such as assisting in the preparation of Village Medium-Term Development Plans (RPJMK) & Government Work Plans (RKP), promoting the preparation of village and sub-district profiles, facilitating village government financial reports, and facilitating the preparation of the Development Village Index (IDM). 

In addition, it also assists in natural resource management by facilitating land use plans (RTGL), making RTGL in Muara Lesan village, and helping organize the community to be involved in making RTGL, organizing cocoa farmers in increasing the capacity of cocoa farmers, and carrying out village potential data collection.

Iis also helped revitalize the Muara Lesan village-owned enterprise (BUMKam), which was in a vacuum and about to be dissolved at that time. Iis succeeded in assisting the village government to revitalize BUMKam and helping BUMKam run its business unit, namely gallons of water from the Muara Lesan spring.

Caption Photo Iis Marwati, Sigap Prosperous Warrior, during a facilitation activity for forming BUMKam in Muara Lesan in 2019. © YKAN

Dedicating himself for almost two years, he was transferred to Kampung Labanan Jaya to become a facilitator. This transfer of assignment also brought joy in itself because it meant that she could be reunited with her husband and children. Long after, he was appointed to participate in SOTK, a particular test for candidates for village apparatus, in Berau District, and was elected village secretary in Mapulu Village, Kelay District.

New assignments with new challenges, but his enthusiasm always stays strong. This woman who started her journey as an educator remains dedicated to building the village. At that time, Mapulu Village was built from scratch and, per Berau District Government policy, moved from the Merabu Village area to a new village downstream of Panaan Village, Kelay District.

"I would like to thank the SIGAP Program, which taught me many things, so I did not hesitate to be directly involved in village governance. " Until I will always try to be alert, to apply SIGAP knowledge," said Iis. He added, "I am a small part of the spirit of the parties themselves, who are trying to civilize me, as well as encouraging and empowering village communities to become empowered."

He believes if the village (village) realizes every step of empowerment carried out by parties who care about and are involved in the empowerment process, the community (village) will be empowered.

Photo Caption With the Prosperous SIGAP Warriors while attending SIGAP training in Labanan, Teluk Bayur District, Berau, East Kalimantan in 2020. © YKAN

The warrior's dedication

Few people lifted their hats and saluted Aunt Iis, as the people around her usually call her. Total support from her husband, Julkaidah, also a member of PSS Berau, is one of the pillars of enthusiasm. The resilience of this mother of four children was seen from the first time she was assigned to Kampung Muara Lesan.

Photo Caption She was pregnant with her third child and attended the first SIGAP training in Tanjung Batu, Berau, East Kalimantan, in 2019. © YKAN

At that time, Iis was pregnant with her third child. He traveled about 170 kilometers by motorcycle from his home in Kampung Labanan to Kampung Lesan. Her two children also took part in the pillion, with cloth wrapped around Iis's body both of them. Not only the long distance, but the road conditions could also be more challenging. At that time, part of the road was still clay. It will be very slippery when it rains, and it will be dusty during the summer. The travel time is about 2-3 hours, done at least once every two weeks. At the assignment location, SIGAP Fighters will spend around 2-3 weeks, ending with the coordination and evaluation process, as well as reporting on activities at the site level.

In certain situations, the return journey from home to Kampung Muara Lesan is accompanied by her husband—a PSS member on duty at Kampung Merapun and about 2-3 hours from Labanan Jaya. Her father carried her two children when her husband was around, and Iis rode her motorcycle.

After giving birth to her third child, Iis only took one month off and immediately returned to Muara Lesan. This time, he brought along his three children on her motorcycle. The chest carried the baby; the other two children were held on the back and tied behind. She did this when her husband could not accompany or pick up Iis and the children.

One of her stories that often makes people gasp is when she gave birth to her fourth child. It is estimated that she is one month away from her due date; Iis is in Muara Lesan, where she is assigned, finishing work before taking maternity leave. Unexpectedly, at dawn, she experienced severe contractions. There were only midwives in the neighboring village (Merapun), and the river water level was high at that time. It is impossible to go to Merapun. The baby was born, and her husband also dared to cut the placenta and clean the baby.

Yes, when pregnant with her fourth child, Iis remained faithful in her duties. The third child is carried in front, and the other two children sit on the pillion. One day, on the way to Muara Lesan, it was raining. They slipped from the motorbike and fell at the entrance to Feli village, a neighbor of Muara Lesan village.

Unknowingly, she shed tears. Her second child also said, "Mother, don't cry; we're okay," she said. Her son's words became a whip for Iis' enthusiasm. Like a prayer rapid, these excited utterances also keep him alive. Thousands of kilometers traveled for families, sustainable nature, and empowered communities.