Live from the Dump: Broadcasting hope from an unlikely site

Bantar Gebang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, is Indonesia's largest dump, measuring more than 100 hectares and growing by 6,000 tons of trash per day. The site--populated by hundreds of scavengers in search of food or items suitable for resale--seems an unlikely place to germinate hope. Yet Radio Anak Kampung Bantar Gebang, located right on the dump site, seems to be doing just that. A community radio station started and managed by kids in the area, with the help of radio professionals and social workers, it broadcasts children's songs, discussions, Malayan poetry and news every day. Read some of the participants stories here. The project presents realistic career alternatives to the kids, not to mention technical training, but it could also offer a more pragmatic service, as one scavenger says:
I cherish the hope that this radio will one day send out information about all the problems with which the community of rag-pickers are struggling. At this moment the rag-pickers need protection. If any of them should meet an accident, let's say wounded by a sharp object while turning over some garbage, or hit by a garbage tractor, it would be nice if the radio could announce it, so that help would be coming. We rag-pickers often have problems; if one of us gets sick, no one would care. And if that illness gets worse, the patient surely dies. The radio should give information about people in trouble.
Unfortunately, our national and global media policies are corporate-focused, not oriented toward social justice, the presentation of diverse viewpoints, or non-commercial ventures. While groups like Free Press are doing the important work of promoting policy change, I deeply admire this tiny station with its 20 km reach, and other groups doing in-the-trenches media work: Third World Majority (an Oakland nonprofit that leads digital storytelling projects with communities of color), HomelessWorld.org's Home/Life project (where kids in 11 cities around the world use photography to document their existence), and Prometheus Radio Project (a Philadelphia resource center helping start up micro-radio stations across the US). The corporate media won't promote the work of any of these groups, nor will Viacom or AOLTimeWarner fund it, but we can. Help spread the word, and if you're able, support the work of Homeless World Foundation and the Bantar Gebang station by donating here.

March 14-20 is Media Democracy Week
Media democracy resources:
One World's media democracy guide
• Media Alliance's Media Justice page
• The Nation's 12-Step Program for Media Democracy
• Philadelphia-based Media Tank
Alliance for Community Media