Ara Kusuma - Since 10 years old, changemaking for the love of cows
What if everyone grew up following their passions to change things in their communities for the better? What if we all felt supported by their families, their schools, their neighbors? Our fast changing world today demands a new set of skills: to see a problem, understand it deeply, develop a solution and form a team to make it happen. This is what Ara did from the age of 10 in Central Java, Indonesia. Her story shows how an early start at changemaking set her on a changemaking pathway for life.
Ara wanted to know, “What if all animals could live on farms like that first one?” With support from her parents to lay out a plan, Ara started Project Moo: For the Welfare of All. The goal? To surface and share innovations among village farmers to increase dairy production in a more sustainable way. In the four years that followed, Project Moo under Ara’s leadership brought together 150 farmers, many of whom became leaders in the community, testing the new approaches and spreading what worked for the benefit of all. The community saw more income from new dairy products and sustainable fertilizer. It also became cleaner. New opportunities for ecotourism emerged. A spirit of collective problem-solving took hold.
In 2008, at age 11, Ara was recognized as an Ashoka Youth Venturer and got connected to other young people who were setting their ideas for change in motion, too. She went on to study marketing and management in Singapore. Now 21 and back in Indonesia, she has started a second venture, a travel-learning project URTravelearner (www.urtravelearner.com) to help others envision changemaker lives by seeing social entrepreneurs in action.
In Ara's words “Once you have a changemaker mindset, when you see something is not correct, you’ll take this up and make the change happen”.