The Courage to Value Independence

Adenanthera Swietenia Fatma
SDG 7 Focal Point Asia Pacific
Law & Advocacy PPI Malaysia
Innovation, Business, and Partnership Development Center PPI Dunia

“Do not stop loving your country, no matter what you do, even if it is smaller than what you can imagine.”

That phrase has been ringing in my mind since Fatma told me how she valued independence. Unlike what we used to perceive, independence feels different for Fatma, because war in her terms is war in different ways. It is not about people versus money or people versus people, but it’s the war between you and yourself, how one believes in the value of change and has the courage to change.

Talking about change, Fatma has been working together with Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia (PPI) Dunia to develop Indonesia through innovation and business. She is also involved in PPI Malaysia to protect the rights of all Indonesian workers there, and even promoting Indonesia whilst upholding the value and voice out the importance of SDG No. 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy). These acts of change for betterment will mean nothing if she does not understand her purpose.

Fatma believes that going abroad or to whatever land she arrives won’t change her purpose: to go back, prepare, and build Indonesia. To be what she has become today is not easy, but the courage of getting and being independent has helped her get through it.

Adenanthera Swietenia Fatma
Growing up with the passion to manage and save the environment has led her to study in Universiti Malaya. She knew that she needed to gather a plethora of perspectives to act, so she flew to Malaysia.

“…Explore, learn, understand, and apply it to Indonesia is my purpose for not only the environment, but also the people.”

When I interviewed Fatma, who also contributed to a ton of research, I was aghast knowing her sincere purpose. This is where her small steps began knocking the door of influence for the advancement of Indonesia.

A Glimpse of Her Milestones
Courage, independence, and all the related words to this valuable month of August may have become common words we heard. They are too common so we forget to act them out better and better. It sounds cliche indeed, but it actually happens.

This is not for Fatma. This paradox of cliche motivates Fatma to join the Innovation, Business, and Partnership Development Center of PPI Dunia. She learns that Indonesian industries and Indonesia’s position as a country play important roles for the change to happen, as it is also crucial for Indonesia. She even divulges the idea to build programs that can accommodate many creative ideas sheltered as soon as possible. This is not because we do not have enough platforms now, but because we need more and more to bridge this feeling of independence for every human being. It should not be emphasized only as a celebration, but a contribution of change. We can make it collaboratively.

Joining PPI Malaysia to advocate and knock down injustice, Fatma is able to educate the children of Indonesian diaspora every weekend. This is the part where a collaborative work applies. Fatma realizes that a pattern that portrays the unequal access to education for children has been going on for ages. This shows how independence is such a luxurious thing to live with. Independence itself is not only about having a common ground of living but also assisting and building access to many things. This has become Fatma’s understanding of independence: access.

Her Individual ‘War’
Her act of promoting independence brought her to collaborate with community leaders in an international community by becoming the only Indonesian in SDG No. 7 Focal Point Asia Pacific. Being the only Indonesian, explicitly as the only Indonesian woman, to deliver the influence of affordable and clean energy as told by the SDG is mesmerizing.

Yet, she keeps questioning herself, “What’s more?” How to make Indonesian government so supportive in developing renewable energy that is affordable and not exclusive is one of her many goals. She believes that everyone should have their independence of access to those mentioned earlier.

The Inference of Fatma’s Road
Fatma upholds three values that she kept in her mind every single day. She believes that to achieve what she envisions and aspires to be, these three values will help her through. Hope to see more following her footstep:

  1. Discipline
    Know what you want to do, know your purpose, know those that you can help, practice asking the 5 WHYs, and do know how to do it. All of them are neededs to be embraced and maintained.
  2. Consistent
    To simply know something is not enough. You need to contribute and do it consistently. Consistent does not imply the idea of doing it again and again, but it is about how you continuously develop and iterate your process.
  3. Optimist
    To start it all from you. Believe in yourself. Seek support, help and do know your limits.

These layers are not the key to achieve what Fatma has achieved, it is a mindset, to not only make her understand and believe herself better but also to recognize that her passionate action will be impactful.

Messages for the Readers
In the spirit of independence day, Fatma delivered several things for the readers that she hopes could foster the better understanding of independence and taking action towards it. “Do not stop loving Indonesia, always contribute yourself more, even if it is smaller than you can imagine, and balance your life through happiness; understand yourself more.”

  1. Do not stop loving Indonesia
    It might be imperfect, but no one is perfect. Start to become the agent of change from you yourself. Love is the basis of courage, courage is the basis of the plan, the plan is the basis of action, and action is the basis of change. Start with love.
  2. Understand yourself more and start to create impact from it
    It all started with her courage to change and when she was nowhere. From there she created actions and made influences. “From you, you can learn to be adaptive, to learn better, and to change. You are the biggest factor of change.”


Written by Ubay Syakhisk Arbi Mohamad – XLFL B7 Bandung