Rere - Creating a culture of self-expression and positivity in Magelang, Indonesia
An Everyone a Changemaker world is a world where solutions outpace problems. Rere embarked on her own changemaking journey to do just that; outpace negative news and media through the production of positive content. With the help of her friends and loving parents, Rere opened a literacy center in her home to incite this cultural shift. Rere and her team are guided by the principle of “musyawarah-mufakat,” a practice of consensus decision making through inclusive discussion for changemaking.
Amarylisse Mc Ganz, better known as Rere, developed her love for reading from her mother. Growing up in Magelang, Indonesia without a television, Rere's family found joy and entertainment from stories. Her parents encouraged a culture of reading in their home, like when Rere's mother would read her fairytales to help her fall asleep. Once Rere learned how to read on her own, she began to immerse herself in stories as she and her family collected a house full of books.
Rere’s friends learned about her family’s collection of books and were eager to come over and read at her house too. However, Rere began to notice a low emphasis on reading in her community as well as an increased prevalence of mobile technology that spreads negative news and content. Reading and writing are not only necessary professional tools, Rere learned from her family, but also avenues for self-exploration, inspiration, and changemaking.
Inspired by the power of stories and the interest expressed by her friends, Rere formed Rumah Baca Mc Ganz, or Mc Ganz Reading Center in English, in 2014. At the age of 10 and with the help of her mother, Rere opened the Center inside her home. The Center incites a community of young people to practice reading and writing to express their voice, master empathy, and contribute enriching content for other young people to read. Rere aspires for her and her friends to produce more positive, youth-driven content that challenges and outpaces mainstream, negative narratives.
Today, at the age of 14, the Center includes a mini library with books that young people can read and borrow as well as youth-oriented activities, such as writing workshops, outbounds, morning exercises, and weekly charity events. Rather than just focusing on reading and writing, these activities create an environment that manifests positivity and changemaking, which is why Rere calls her initiative a “multiliteracy” strategy.
Books in the library are both from Rere’s family’s collection and donated through a national government program. Her library qualifies for this program as it is officially registered with Indonesia’s Ministry of Education. On the 17th of every month, citizens across the country can donate books at their local public post office, and the books are then redistributed across the community to public libraries for free.
Rere’s team consists of six of her friends, who collectively brainstorm and execute the Center’s weekly activities alongside active members of the library. Through mutual respect and a culture of openly sharing ideas, the team practices musyawarah-mufakat, or problem-solving through inclusive discussions to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Additionally, Rere’s parents advise the team and offer logistical support.
Through the Center, over 100 young people have increasingly focused their time and energy on creative endeavors that spark their changemaking abilities. Numerous participants have won writing competitions and her team also published a book, A Million Colour House, an anthology of the young creatives’ work. Rere’s team is also establishing literacy clubs to promote the spread of knowledge and empathy while inspiring others to find their unique voice through reading and writing. In the future, Rere hopes to expand her venture’s outreach by encouraging more young people to contribute positive content through small, tangible acts of writing. “Even through writing a small piece,” Rere says, “we can share our ideas with other young people in Indonesia.”
At the heart of Rere’s initiative is encouraging young people to spend their free time on activities that positively impact their lives now and in the future. She follows the principle of Amar ma'ruf nahi munkar, an Arabic phrase from the Qur’an, which means “invite people to do good things and prevent things that are bad in society.” Specifically, through reading and writing, Rere and her team encourage young people to broaden their perspectives, harness their creativity, and create positive change for the good of Indonesia.