24 September 2010

Singapore, 24 September 2010...The Singapore International Foundation (SIF)-Asean Student Fellowship programme may have concluded six years ago, but its alumni in Indonesia are still collaborating to do good through charitable activities.

Their most recent effort is a fundraiser through a Meet-the-Author Session and photo exhibition to help promising but needy Indonesian students through the SIF-Asean Student Fellowship Indonesian Alumni Scholarship Fund.

“Our participation in the SIF-Asean Student Fellowship has become one of the main drivers for me and other alumni members to always excel in our studies and careers,” says Mr Ibrahim Senen, chairman of the SIF-Asean Student Fellowship Indonesian Alumni. “Being a part of Indonesian society and after years of successful careers, we think we should also give an opportunity to the youth in our country to experience the same kind of success.”

"What we have done so far,” Mr Ibrahim, who was a Fellow in 1994, explains, “is to give scholarships to bright students from financially-challenged families so that they can graduate with at least a senior high school certificate. If possible, we really want to help them pursue their university degrees, which will give them a better chance at a more promising future.”

For him, the project also is a way to give back, having had what he considers the rare opportunity of studying in Singapore’s competitive environment while building a network of friends among Indonesian and other Asean countries’ Fellows.

Mr Matthew Lee, SIF’s Director of International Networking, says, “We are heartened by the collaboration between our Indonesian alumni to uplift lives in their country. It embodies the spirit of the SIF which is about making friends for a better world. This is inspiration for more alumni partnerships for good in the Asean region.”

Incepted in 1993, the SIF-Asean Student Fellowship aimed to promote friendship among the brightest tertiary students from Asean countries. It brought together future political, business and civil society leaders for a semester of living and learning at Singapore’s universities. Through this interaction, the Fellows gained a better understanding of Singapore’s culture, business environment and government and forged strong ties among themselves and with their Singaporean peers. Over the programme’s 12-year run, the Fellowship has built up an alumni network of over 560 members spanning all 10 Asean member countries, of which about 120 are from Indonesia.

Its biggest commitment to date is the establishment of the scholarship fund in 2006. Since then, 55 students from Pati in Central Java, aged from elementary to senior high, have benefited from the fund. As the number of awardees continues to increase and the Indonesian Fellows are hoping to expand the beneficiary community to more parts of Indonesia, they are now appealing to the generosity of their networks both at home and abroad in order to boost the fund’s capacity to aid more students.

The Meet-the-Author Session at the fundraiser scheduled on Friday, 1 October, will feature two writers. The first is novelist and Indonesian Fellow, Mr Ahmad Fuadi, whose fiction novel ‘Negeri Lima Menara’ (‘Five State Tower’) is a bestseller this year under Gramedia, Indonesia’s largest publisher. It is the first of a planned trilogy of books about the power of believing in and pursuing your dreams. Mr Ahmad, who is also a Fulbright and British Chevening scholar, will be giving a talk about writing a book and autographing copies of his book which will be for sale.

Another Fellow and Director of Trimegah Securities, Mr Ubaidillah Nugraha, will share his experiences about writing four financial and management books.

Meanwhile, the event will also feature an exhibition of 36 photographs from the best collections of ten other Indonesian Fellows, many of whom enjoy photography as a hobby. All pictures in various sizes will be sold during the event, and two pictures by noted young architect Mr Ridwan Kamil and Mr Ahmad will be auctioned off during the evening. All proceeds will be channelled directly to the scholarship fund. In the meantime, a selection of pictures on display at the exhibition can be viewed here.

Mr Ibrahim believes that the fund-raiser on 1 Oct is a demonstration of goodwill from the SIF-Asean Student Fellowship Indonesian Alumni to seek financing from beyond its members for the growing scholarship fund.

“We hope the event will mark the beginning of a mutual cooperation between the public and the SIF-Asean Fellowship Indonesian Alumni to invest in the futures of young promising Indonesians,” he said.

Aprilia, a second year student of Senior High School SMA 2 Pati and a beneficiary of the SIF-Asean Fellowship Indonesian Alumni Scholarship Fund for the last five years, says “I really want to pursue higher education so that I can get a proper job in future, but I don’t think my mother has the money to support me.”

Aprilia’s mother, who is an odd-job labourer, has been the family’s main breadwinner, since her father left home when she was a child. She added, “I am very grateful to the SIF-Asean Student Fellowship Indonesian Alumni as its scholarship has really helped me to stay on track to achieve my dream.”