The Story of Bertam, the Forgotten Island

The Story of Bertam, the Forgotten Island
Writer :
Editor :
Early Febriana
Translator :
Intan Qonita N

That morning the weather was quite sunny, after the previous day heavy rain poured evenly throughout the Batam City area. From the Riau Penanjung Pier, several boats and passenger boats and fishermen lean back. Boats and ships to transport goods and passengers to small islands scattered as far as the eye can see. The water looks calm, only small ripples in the morning breeze. The atmosphere is foreign to me, but gives a distinct impression. We, the Ministry of Social Affairs team boarded a wooden boat with a capacity of 30 people. Traditional ships sailed without adequate security and we prayed are all that the ship will be fine until it reaches its destination. We enjoyed the trip quite a bit, while joking and laughing the warm atmosphere of the ship's passengers who did know each other. Thirty minutes passed and we arrived at our destination island.

Little children were running around to greet us. Their smile and chatter made a noisy atmosphere, a moment later they ran to the end of the pier and plunged into the sea with their friends. Cheerful laughter of innocent and unpretentious children. We will stay here for some time. Taking the moment of HAN (National Children's Day), which will celebrate togetherness with the children of the Sea Tribe and provide ATENSI
(Social Rehabilitation Assistance) support to the children of the Sea Tribe in Batam, precisely on Bertam Island, Lingke Island and Gara Island. Children should feel the same happiness, be cheerful together. Wherever children must be protected, towards advanced Indonesia.

Perhaps some Indonesian people have heard about
the Sea Tribe (Sea Nomads). The Sea Tribe or Sampan Tribe is an indigenous community that inhabits the territory of several small islands in the waters of the Riau Archipelago. They are called the sea tribe is because of their nomadic life by carrying out life activities in a boat or canoe with the roof of a Kajang. Previously, they only lived in the sea, moving from island to island to river mouths. Bertam Island is one of the inhabited by the Sea Tribe. This small island is flanked by Gara Island and Lingke Island. There are about 65 families living in 50 wooden houses above the sea. In addition to Bertam Island, they live scattered in the Batam area, as well as around the Malacca Strait, Phillip Strait, Singapore Strait, and the South China Sea.

According to the story of one of the residents who first inhabited Bertam Island, Maria Murni and Daniel Sram, they were once a Sea Tribe who lived nomadic lives on boats. All of their life activities are 100 percent on a boat on the sea. But in 1983, during the time of Minister of Social Affairs Nani Soedarsono, she forbade the Sea Tribe to live on the boat but had to stay and build a permanent house. Given that they will not be easy to actually leave the sea, so they make a home and live on the sea. Some time has passed, the life of the Sea Tribe is still far behind from the frenetic life of the metropolis of Batam, which is advanced and full of charm.

Unfortunately, the condition of the children of the Sea Tribe is very worrying. Generally, the children of the Sea Tribe cannot read, even though they are in school. Elementary school children have not been able to read, count like most school children. What happened? I had time to ask their school teachers. The answer is that there is very little time in class, because the school only has 3 classrooms, so they have to take turns studying. The elementary school located on Bertam Island does accommodate children from Gara Island and Lingke Island. Boats are their only means of transportation to school. To continue to junior high school, the Sea Tribe children have to travel further, namely to Kasu Island and senior high school to Pulau Behind Padang. The struggle of the children of the Sea Tribe to get an adequate education is quite difficult. They need support from many parties. Therefore, the boat transportation assistance from the Minister of Social Affairs means a lot to them.

Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the Bertam Island Sea Tribe community have a livelihood as fishermen. Fishing is generally done by men or husbands, while women or wives are housewives. Apart from school in the morning until noon, the children of the Sea Tribe usually play in the sea with their friends. There are several children who help their father to fish in the sea. Generally, the people of the Bertam Island Sea Tribe cannot read. Thus, the Sea Tribe children way of learning to read becomes an obstacle.

Bertam Island, a small island that is not even known by the residents of Batam City itself, is foreign and increasingly marginalized. When we bought some necessities to help the residents of Bertam Island, the sellers asked who this help was for. When we answered for the children and residents of the Bertam Island community, they asked in return where the location of Bertam Island was, because they had almost never heard of the island. Bertam Island is a marginal island with very minimal facilities, such as educational facilities and health facilities. The nearest health facility is taken approximately 30 minutes to the nearest island, namely Pulau Buluh or Batam City with a travel time of 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Some time ago, Bertam Island received a visit from the Minister of Social Affairs, Tri Rismaharini. According to one local resident, this is the first visit from a central government official. On Bertam Island, the Minister of Social Affairs conducted a direct survey and survey to dig deeper into the needs of the people of the Sea Tribe, in preparation for the provision of assistance from the Ministry of Social Affairs, namely the Remote Indigenous Community Empowerment Program and the Special Entrepreneurship Program. The Ministry of Social Affairs has also provided several empowerment assistance including the construction of shop business facilities, community center equipment, cake business ATENSI creation, rice stalls, and production booths for hydroponic business attention creations.

Indonesia is an archipelago that stretches from Sabang to Merauke. Representation of a dedication to the integrity of the Republic of Indonesia by fighting for the rights of all citizens, to remote areas, including children and residents of Bertam Island. May there be a glimmer of hope for their future.

Share :