"Wadah" means "a place" and WADAH stands for a symbol of Hope for the many women and their families throughout Indonesia and it is the passion of its founder, Mrs. Anie Hashim Djojohadikusumo, to raise women at the grassroots to a level where they can help themselves and their families.
In a country like Indonesia, where about 20% of the 230 million population live along the poverty line, women are at the lowest end as they struggle to bring up children and hold the family together. It is for these women that WADAH is striving to make the difference.
“Women need help and I am more focused on empowering women at the grassroot level who cannot help themselves. Initially, my efforts were through the YKHD, the Hashim Djojohadikusumo Family Foundation but last year, I established WADAH, a legally registered, philanthropic foundation."
“The initial endowment was US$1,000,000,” explained Mrs. Hashim. “I am not actively soliciting donations from other people,” she stressed, “but if there are, we will gladly welcome the support and funds and we will act as a facilitator for the projects the donors are interested in and see that they get worthy recognition.”
The main focus at present is on the SOS Children's Villages in Indonesia and Mrs. Hashim is already looking into adding more villages.
“SOS Children's Villages and the founder in Indonesia, Mr. Agus Prawoto, has done an admirable job all these years since 1970. However, times have changed and we have to adjust accordingly. We have to think of the future of the children after they leave the protection of the SOS villages and enter the real world. Also, as a mother, I see the role of a mother changing as we are faced with new communications technology, social phenomenon, global cultural integration and much more which create growing demands. This is also the case with the “mothers” at the SOS villages which besides providing motherly love and care, will have to keep up with a changing world,” Mrs. Hashim intimated. She found that there is a need for more human resources than just capital to help people. “We have to influence people through action, and reach out to make them feel that they are important. We must also make them aware of the importance of education, and provide the means for learning.”
Mrs. Hashim believes that sharing can be a joy and is something that has been a part of her, even from a young age when she was a little girl. In a family of 17 siblings, she learnt early in life to share. With a father as a medical supervisor (mantri) living in a small town on the slopes of Mt. Willis in East Java, everyone helped and shared. “And that is why I want to share what I have,” she explained.
After high school, Anie, as she is called was recruited by Garuda Indonesia Airways as a stewardess. She left to join Hotel Sari Pan Pacific in Jakarta where she became Public Relations manager and met her husband, businessman, Hashim Djojohadikusumo.
Now living in London with her 3 children, after 7 years in Geneva, Mrs. Hashim returns almost every alternate month to supervise the operations of WADAH and the progress of the projects receiving aid.
“I am a hands-on person and have to see with my own eyes. It can mean travelling through Indonesia, talking to people and finding out their needs and seeing what we can do for them. I make sure that what we supply is really useful and there has been an instance when we had to take back a computer which was misused,” she stated.
“There are so many cases of people going out to help others even when they themselves have little. Whether it is medical care, education at the most basic level or saving young girls from difficulties, there are those who I call the Unsung Heroes, not of a war but those who are dedicated to helping others in the interest of human resources development for the future of our people and our nation,” concluded this lady, whose reserve of strength matches her passion for her work, even when she is meeting people after a long flight from London.