: Suporahardjo and Farha Ciciek: Salt of the earth

Thursday, 25 April 2013 19:47
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We have a saying in Indonesia: Garam di laut, asam di gunung, bertemu dalam satu belanga (salt from the sea, tamarind from the mountain, both meet in a pot). 

This refers to people who come from different and even far-flung areas but are meant to be together (and hopefully don’t go to pot).

Husband and wife, founders of the Tanoker community center in Ledokombo, East Java, met in at least three “pots”.

Ciciek hails from Ambon and is descended from an Arab-Indonesian family. Suporahardjo is Javanese and was born in the tiny village of Ledokombo in East Java. Despite the 1,700 kilometers between Ambon and Ledokombo, they got together. 

Their first “pot” was Yogyakarta, where they both studied. Ciciek took philosophy at the State Islamic University and Supo social forestry at Gadjah Mada University.

Both activists, they met at various student forums and ended up in their second “pot” — marriage — in Yogyakarta in 1995. Their first son Mokhsa was born in 1996 and Zero, their second, in 2002.

Ciciek, the eldest of four, is one of Indonesia’s most prominent Muslim feminists. Her feminist consciousness emerged when she was in her teens, as a result of her father’s patriarchal behavior toward Ciciek and her mother.

Once away from home studying in Yogyakarta, she soon began organizing forums to discuss women’s views on various social and political issues. 

In the early 1990s, Supo got a job in Bogor at the Lembaga Alam Tropika (LATIN), but Ciciek only joined him in 1997 after Mokhsa was born. In Jakarta, Ciciek joined Kal-yanamitra, one of Indonesia’s first feminist organizations.

From 1999 onward she became increasingly involved with Islamic women’s organizations (among others Rahima and Puan Amal Hayati), focusing on the reinterpretation of Islamic texts and how to prevent violence against women — still two of the most important issues Indonesian women face today.

Supo has always supported Ciciek’s feminist beliefs and applies them in their daily lives. When Ciciek studied at the Australian National University (ANU) for a year in 2005, Supo took care of their
two boys.

When Supo was a visiting research scholar at Cornell University, it was Ciciek’s turn to take over domestic responsibilities.

Supo and Ciciek’s third “pot” is Tanoker, which relates to their childhoods, both being raised in multicultural contexts. This latest project is their shared passion, and Supo and Ciciek play whatever roles are needed of them.

On their own, Supo and Ciciek have done great work in their respective fields, but together in Tanoker this inspiring couple are sheer dynamite.

There are myriad challenges and problems but they are always cheerful, encouraging and stimulating for the local kids and community.

They have to be strategists, diplomats, politicians and organizers as well as teachers, artists, environmentalists, psychologists and leaders, all at the same time — in other words, superhuman.

So far, Supo and Ciciek have managed to keep Tanoker a loosely organized movement, which they consider the ideal way to go, but they are becoming concerned whether they can keep it up.

They use a lot of their own funds, and Ciciek told me that some money-making projects like agricultural crops have not turned out as they had hoped.

They are worried that one of them might now have to work full time, which would mean leaving Ledokombo. Neither of them want to, because what will happen to Tanoker then?

It will be crippled without them.

So dear readers, maybe you could offer some suggestions? Visit Ciciek and Supo at their website
( and friend them on Facebook. Better still, go and visit this remarkable couple and the magical melting pot they have created.

It would be very surprising if you don’t become captivated by the Tanoker spell!
(Julia Suryakusuma, Contributor, Jember, East Java | Fri, 08/12/2011 8:00 AM)


...mempertemukan manusia - manusia dari berbagai kebudayaan... untuk bersatu, berbagi dan saling menguatkan dalam suatu ruang hidup bernama Ledokombo

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