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COVID-19 Insights from Families across Indonesia

Hover over any of the location dots to view a selection of some of the insights and quotes from the nine months (May 2020–February 2021) our researchers interacted remotely with families and other community members across 23 districts of Indonesia.

All included photos or screenshots were shared with us directly by study participants!

Livelihoods

Education

Health

Social Assistance

Photo stories

Quotes

Children's routines

Banda Aceh, AcehThis family worked as trash scavengers but with the collection center closed during the pandemic they have adjusted by taking on a variety of others jobs, including peeling onions. The father is also doing some small construction work, although it makes less money than his trash work, and their son has opened a cellphone credit stall.

Lombok Timur, NTB‘It's exhausting and difficult to breathe’said these children in this video sent to our researcher by a preschool teacher who asked them, ‘Why aren’t you wearing your masks?'

Pasaman, West SumatraThis father started a motorbike repair business to help supplement the income the family gets from farming when the pandemic first hit and transport restrictions to other regions were put in place.

Bandung Barat, West JavaA family here explained that they decided to use their paddy field just for family consumption this season (early 2021), as rice prices (to sell) had gone down while fertilizer prices increased.

Timor Tengah Utara, NTTBefore some in-class learning resumed here, primary school teachers gave remote lessons to small groups of students. While some teachers also tried to do this in other locations, most efforts were not sustainable.

Sorong, West PapuaWith distance learning, many parents, and especially mothers, were put in the unfamiliar position of managing their younger children's learning, trying to keep track of assignments, giving reminders, and going to school to pick up and drop off assignments. This is a Facebook screenshot sent by a mother with the directions she gets from one of her child's teachers. She says that while she asks the teacher questions sometimes, the response is often delayed or not clear.

<span class=""><span class=""><span style="font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;"><!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}--></span></span></span>“As far as I know, every time the midwife or puskesmas officers talk about COVID, it is limited to 3M. What they talked about last month (during posyandu) will be repeated the next month. Nothing new.”- A mother in Alor talking about the type of information they receive about COVID-19

Alor, NTTHere village officials and community members met about postponing a planned program to build 3 water pumps and storage tanks because the budget needed be allocated for COVID-19 response instead. In many study locations, this shift in funding affected local work opportunities.

Palu, Central SulawesiWhen this father temporarily lost his mining job, he started a business making shelves and cabinets. He learned some of the techniques on YouTube and his son helped him to promote the business on Facebook. The father shared that he felt very proud after successfully delivering his first order.

Sintang, West KalimantanA mother here told us that health staff from the puskesmas have made more of an effort to have the posyandu running smooth and orderly since the pandemic. The local government had also now allocated money to cover the costs for women to deliver their babies in the puskesmas, based on advice from the cadres. Zinc and iron tablets are also now being provided for adolescent girls, with distribution done through the cadres. This was one of two locations included in the study where the pandemic has spurred clear positive developments for local healthcare.

Manggarai Timur, NTTThe daughter is this family was working in Bali before losing her job at the start of the pandemic. After coming home, she started selling snacks like these to help the family out. A number of families included in the study were facing lost remittances as family members were forced to go back to their villages.

Pulang Pisau, Central KalimantanGrandfather working in paddy field. This family shared that paddy field's here were affected by flooding in 2020. In some locations like this one people said bad weather and poor road conditions were bigger issues for them than COVID-19.

Seram Bagian Barat, MalukuThese senior secondary school students shared that while they had started to attend school again, like most locations the hours were shorter and days reduced so that they were still doing a lot of distance learning. Since it was hard getting feedback from teachers remotely, they tried to ask questions when they met them to submit assignments.

Jakarta TimurThe mother in this family opened this small food stall at the end of November to help deal with decreased income from their scavenging business. The mother said she saw an opportunity as some of the other food sellers in the area had gone back to their home villages. Although the stall makes only a small profit, it has reduced their daily food costs as the family can also take their meals from the stall.

“What will [my son’s] future look like now?”- father in Palu commenting on his teenage son's declination motivation for school following the adjustments due to the pandemic

'The cases are zero, and the majority of people do not understand COVID. Even though I force myself to persuade them, I don't think they will be willing to get the vaccine'- village head in Sintang

'People [here] tend to not get a COVID-19 test because they are afraid of knowing if the result is reactive or positive. Through not getting tested, people avoid any potential stigma'- mother in Bandung Barat

'It is better to not know [if you are positive] and to make sure you don't have symptoms'- mother in Pasaman

'Now we eat more soup and cassava leaves, these are cheaper and make you feel like you have eaten more'- mother in Cirebon

'They are just sitting around drinking coffee, waiting until jobs are open in the city'- Father in Pasaman on migrant workers who returned to the village

'BLT [cash assistance] is not enough for a family even with 2 children. Families [here] usually have many members, up to 12 persons'- Subvillage head in Pasaman

Pulang Pisau, Central KalimantanA family here shared a photo of their typical daily meal. As in many locations, this family said that during the pandemic they are purchasing less proteins and relying more on dried rather than fresh fish.

Aceh Selatan, AcehThe family's grandmother here is making traditional herbs that can be used to help with cough, flu, and fever. As in many locations, this family tried to stay proactively healthy in light of the COVID-19 situation.

Pulang Pisau, Central KalimantanThe mother is this family stocked extra medicines and vitamins at home for her baby. Many families' main strategy for dealing with potential health concerns related to COVID-19 was to try to stay healthy, and some more frequently self-medicated (though often with advice from the local midwife) or drank local herbs.

Jember, East JavaThis family's oldest daughter (grade 5) works on some of her homework. Most children in the study did not have dedicated study areas or desks.

Jember, East JavaThe oldest daughter shared this diary entry of a typical (distance learning) school day. It says: 1. bathe, eat, drop off youngest sister at school [kindergarten], pick up schoolwork, clean around the house, watch TV; 2. Watch the animated show Keluarga Somat, watch soap operas, play with friends nearby the house; 3. [teacher's name] is strict but nice, lessons in math, civics, art, science, humanities, always strict and happy.

'Don't just give them money, give them work to fix the road'-A father commenting that small amounts of social assistance are not enough when people have also lost work opportunities, particularly for families that do not own much land themselves.

Palangkaraya, Central KalimantanThis university student has been selling accessories online to help cover the extra cost of internet due to distance learning.

'The important thing is finishing [assignments] rather than understanding'-A university student commenting on the distance learning situation

Minahasa Utara, North SulawesiThis family’s daughter in junior high is going to school a few days a week now but only for 1-2 hours at a time. She likes helping her family’s food stall business (since before COVID), and after school she goes around selling snacks and small meals. Then she takes a break for lunch before going back out to sell fried bananas from around 2-4 PM. After this, she finds some time to play with friends. When she gets home she eats dinner and then relaxes and does homework in the evening. Before COVID when she was busier with school, she typically only helped to sell fried bananas in the afternoon.

Buton, Southeast SulawesiA video screenshot from one of our researcher's video calls with 'their' family in Buton. Due to the relative remoteness of this location, day-to-day life was not very affected compared to many other locations.

Sorong, West PapuaThe mother in this family explained that she would help her son in primary school with his homework, however many parents across the study locations shared that there were many parents that struggled with. Some commons reasons included that some parents were illiterate, or that curriculum had changed too much since they were in school.

Sintang, West KalimantanA baby getting immunized during posyandu. Posyandu in almost all study locations were suspended for 3-6 months at the start of the pandemic, although in many places mothers could still visit polindes/pustu or the midwife's home to get immunized

Manggarai Timur, NTTJunior secondary school boy heading to school with his mask on. The family shared that wearing the mask on the road during the trip to school is important because sometimes the police will check, whereas at the school they are not very strict. A teacher here also shared his frustration when police showed up to the school one day with a huge group of people to check about health protocols, saying that the police are not following what they say they are enforcing.

Palu, Central SulawesiThis mining company in Palu laid off many workers in May 2020 including 'our' father here. In January 2021 though, the father heard that they will be reopening and want him to return to work. In many study locations jobs like factories and plantations started to slowly reopen around December 2020.

Alor, NTTThis father's public minibus, which he drives for a living. Early in the pandemic work was very limited, but thanks to this island's relative isolation transportation slowly started to pick up again around July of 2020. The father shared that his wife helps remind him to wear a mask and shower after arriving back home.

'I already try to complain, and people ignore me so it's hopeless now for me'- A mother in Cirebon on trying and failing to receive the COVID-19 social assistance either for families or small businesses. Her family owns a kiosk and the business has been particularly hard hit due to the pandemic.

Sintang, West KalimantanThe head of village established an ad-hoc body of community stakeholders to help oversee the allocation of village funds for COVID-19 response. He said he did this to help mitigate ‘drama’ around the social assistance distribution.

From a total of 14 WhatsApp groups for her classes, this family's daughter in SMP says that she only joins 3 because if she joins all of them, she will be confused with all of the tasks and materials. Even though she says that the teacher gives more time to do the tasks, she explained that, 'It's hard to only receive the materials and do the task[without more interaction or explanation].' Because of this, she shared that she has felt felt less motivated with school.- researcher notes, Sorong

Sorong, West PapuaA teacher taking attendance and sharing a task as part of distance learning. A different SMP teacher shared that while some teachers have tried to be creative developing materials for distance learning, others do very little. She thinks this happens partly because there is no guidance or standards for teachers doing distance learning. She said she also struggles because many times she sees that students never open files that she created to make the learning more interesting, saying that parents are not always helping to support the online learning process.

Sorong, West PapuaAt the beginning of the pandemic, while the father in this family was still in prison the family's recently started kiosk (complete with home-baked bread), managed by the mother, provided enough income for the family to survive. The mother explained that since larger kiosks are much further away for many neighbours, and with guidance to stay closer to the home due to Covid, her kiosk has been doing quite well.

Seram Bagian Barat, MalukuAfter the first few months of the pandemic, in-person Church attendance resumed in this community. The family shared that they have to follow reduced capacity and there are hand washing facilities before entering, but with no cases in the community mask wearing is not strictly followed.

Timor Tengah Utara, NTTThe oldest daughter in one family here was planning to look for work in Kupang, but due to the increasing number of cases, travel restrictions and COVID-19 testing requirements, she decided to take a job as a cashier at a building supply store in the neighbouring district. She explained that she doesn’t make much money and is mostly stuck at the store since she also sleeps there, but said, “it's better than sitting around in the village and doing nothing.”

Banda Aceh, AcehAlthough by December many people here had become more relaxed about COVID, 'our' mother here explained that pregnant woman including herself were preferring to give birth with a traditional birth attendance rather than in the puskesmas due to concerns about COVID. However, in this mother's case she still opted for the puskesmas in the end because the TBA was too expensive (IDR 2 million).

Pasaman, West SumatraThis family’s fifth daughter (primary school) does not have to do assignments 'online' like her older sister in junior high. She starts her day helping her older sister sweep the house and yard and release chickens from their cages. After breakfast she usually plays outside the house with her brother and their friends. In the evening, she joins Quran recital class like normal, watches some TV, and completes her school tasks with help from her older sisters. She also likes to play Tetris at night on one of the family’s cell phones.

Lombok Timur, East Nusa TenggaraThis is a pregnancy class, a program from the puskesmas for mothers 7 months pregnant or later. The class is done over two mornings, where puskesmas staff discuss and give education materials related to pregnancy, health and nutrition. It is normally held twice a year, but due to COVID-19 the June class wasn’t held until October.

Lombok Timur, East Nusa TenggaraA preschool teacher recorded a video of herself asking math questions to some young children in the community. Some had trouble answering basic arithmetic and she said that this was because of the lack of in-school learning.

Garut, West JavaIn many locations girls took on additional chores due to their extra time at home. Adolescent girls also often helped younger siblings with their schoolwork. A daughter in junior high here reflected that the extra chores and school assignments were more burdensome than before the pandemic and that she would prefer to have more time for recreation.

Lombok Timur, East Nusa TenggaraIn this shared video the mother asked her grade 1 daughter if she knows how to read. She says she can write but not read. "Why not?" asks the mother. "I haven't gone to school yet," says the daughter. "But you're in school... Why aren't you being taught by your teacher?" asks mom. The daughter replies, "because of corona," referring to the fact that she has yet to actually enter the classroom.

Jakarta Timur, JakartaThis family's son (senior high) said that now he usually wakes up between 7-9 AM. ‘My eyes usually open around 5, but I continue sleeping because I don’t have anything to do anyway.’ Between 9 - 12, he usually spends time at his father’s garbage scavenging station, mostly just hanging out but sometimes helping. In the late afternoon to early evening he plays with friends, including football sometimes. At night, he hangs out with friends outside or is just busy with his smartphone. The daughter (junior secondary student), usually wakes up at 6-7 AM. On some days, she spends around 1 hour helping her mother with chores around the house before starting to study. She typically stays inside the house until the afternoon when she likes to hang out around her mother’s small drink and snack stall. In the early evening, she is usually back inside the house watching TV, on the internet, or doing light chores. Sometimes she also joins Quran recital classes, either online or in-person. At night, she watches TV and does any remaining homework.