Ember Travel Diaries: KPSI, Indonesia

Mar 14, 2024

Ember Travel Diaries: KPSI, Indonesia

Header image by Elizabeth Dalziel for Ember Mental Health.

In a narrow, colourful street in Southeast Jakarta, uniquely quiet in comparison with the bustling streets of the city centre, sits KPSI (Komunitas Peduli Skizofrenia Indonesia, or Indonesian Schizophrenia Caring Community in English).

KPSI is a community of people living with mental health problems – primarily schizophrenia – and their family members, empowering one another through peer support, mental health education and employment.

They work to drive radical change in the service provision, legislation and social perceptions of mental health in Indonesia.

KPSI is located in a small street of Southeast Jakarta. Photo by Elizabeth Dalziel for Ember Mental Health.

We had the honour of spending a week with the team at KPSI to learn about their work and discuss their direction going forward, as the needs of those living and affected by severe mental health problems continues to evolve and change.

With the integration of universal health care in 2014 in the country, access to key medication has widened. Now, people are striving for more holistic aspects of recovery to be readily available, such as social support, access to employment or psychoeducation.

Bagus, founder of KPSI in the centre's garden. Photo by Elizabeth Dalziel for Ember Mental Health.

From day 1 at KPSI, we felt welcomed and at home. Shortly after our arrival, Mira – co-lead of KPSI’s eatery and a caregiver to her son who lives with schizophrenia – served us Soto Ayam, a delicious traditional Indonesian chicken noodle soup.

We heard stories or recovery and listened to team members share with pride all that KPSI has accomplished since it was founded in 2001. We also heard of the challenges the organisation has faced over past years, particularly due to COVID-19, including the need to relocate KPSI, combat social isolation, and navigate economic downturns.

Despite these challenges, the team takes a very positive outlook to their work. One team member encapsulated this sprit, saying, ‘every day we do the impossible,’ despite very limited funds.

Their initiatives, which include raising awareness, providing psychosocial support, and facilitating income generation, underscore their commitment to overcoming adversity.

Every day we do the impossible.

Over the past few years, financial wellbeing has become a priority for KPSI’s members, inspiring the organisation to set up various social enterprises. These include a bike courier service, the eatery managed by Mira and her son, an online bookshop and thrift store, and a goat farm overseen by Bagus, their founder, just outside Jakarta. Plans are also underway for a crispy chicken takeaway business!

Mira and Tri at the eatery. Photo by Elizabeth Dalziel for Ember Mental Health.

These small social enterprises are supporting those with lived experience to enter the workforce in an environment that is understanding of their needs.

Crucially, they also provide opportunities for skill development and confidence-building.

These ventures not only empower individuals with lived experience but offer their caregivers opportunities for employment, acknowledging the unique challenges they face balancing work and caregiving responsibilities.

KPSI team pose with their bespoke product Dapur. Photo by Elizabeth Dalziel for Ember Mental Health.

Over the course of our visit, we spent time with the KPSI team discussing storytelling for fundraising, monitoring and evaluation, budgeting and even running a remote photography session with documentary photographer Elizabeth Daziel.

Bagus poses with a photo of his brother. Photo by Elizabeth Dalziel for Ember Mental Health.

We also chose to spend a whole day focusing on the team’s wellbeing, supported by Ember’s Wellbeing Fund. We travelled to the city of Bogor, one hour away from Jakarta, and spent the morning in the botanical gardens followed by lunch and coffee at a beautiful, green location. The team have had very little opportunity to look after their own wellbeing and were thrilled to enjoy each other’s company, laugh, relax and connect with one another.

Team day out in Bogor. Photo by Ember Team

Throughout our time at KPSI, what struck us most profoundly was the atmosphere of safety and acceptance. There is no doubt that it is this nurturing environment that has played a significant role in positively transforming people’s lives.

One member told us: ‘KPSI is like family.’ Fuelled by this unity, at KPSI, there is no standing still, only a collective drive to forge ahead with exciting plans and aspirations, both as individuals and as an organisation.

KPSI is like a family.
Bagus and Irwanda scroll through the KPSI Facebook group, which offers accurate mental health information and support for individuals, families, and caregivers. Photo by Elizabeth Dalziel for Ember Mental Health.