Dina Siagian Lumbantobing
This profile was prepared when Dina Siagian Lumbantobing was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
In Indonesia many ethnic minorities, including the group known as Pakpaks, are increasingly losing their cultural identity and their ability to work together to stave off the poverty that has been engulfing them in recent years. Dina Lumbantobing believes that community participation in the education of the youngest Pakpaks is the solution to reinstilling cultural pride and helping the group break free from poverty. She helps the parents in the community understand that education will lead, in the long run, to financial security. Not only have the Pakpaks suffered from poverty; they have also suffered from shame over their ethnic identity. Dina is helping to produce a new generation of Pakpaks who have a different attitude towards their culture and therefore, the pride and confidence to succeed socio-economically. By selecting preschool-aged children as her target group, Dina gains the attention and approval of the entire community: parents, teachers and elders, all of whom are being exposed to preschool education for the first time. She uses the mothers as a channel to build cultural awareness and spread basic health care knowledge, with the hope that this enabling approach will replicate elsewhere in ethnically diverse Indonesia.The mission of Dina's organization, Yayasan Sada Ahmo (YSA), is to assist the government's program on the development of marginalized ethnic groups; the work with the Pakpaks is a necessary but preliminary step in introducing a new model of indigenous education and empowerment to Indonesia. Through day care centers, credit unions and "Young Parents Groups", YSA-- meaning "Self Help Promotion Institution"-- is presenting an alternative future for many Pakpak people.