Volunteers unite to clean worship houses in Indonesia

Youths from different religions come together through the Berhati group to clean mosques, churches, temples and other spaces for religious congregation.

By Maeswara Palupi for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

March 29, 2014
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The young volunteers pay no attention to religious or ethnic differences as they sweep, mop and scrub houses of worship in the Jakarta area.

  • A Berhati crew cleans the Baiturrahim Mosque in Tangerang on March 7th. [Maeswara Palupi/Khabar]

    A Berhati crew cleans the Baiturrahim Mosque in Tangerang on March 7th. [Maeswara Palupi/Khabar]

They clean mosques, churches, temples and monasteries on behalf of Berhati, a community group established in 2012 by the Taha Binsan Gransang Foundation.

The crews– made up of Muslims, Christians and members of other faiths– have since cleaned 150 houses of worship. Berhati started with only 25 people but since, has grown to 118-strong.

Volunteers range in age from 12 to 23, and their numbers have increased every month, Berhati activist Agus Suryanto said.

"If houses of worship are clean, people will be comfortable conducting their ceremonies," he told Khabar Southeast Asia, adding that a clean religious space also would help them with the rituals of their respective faiths.

Because the programme has gotten rave reviews, Agus said he expected the foundation to expand it. Berhati also does charity work ranging from blood drives, food banks and collections of donated school supplies, toys and snacks.

Open to everyone

The programme welcomes volunteers regardless of their religious or ethnic background, Berhati community co-ordinator Ardi Widiatmoko told Khabar.

The group develops tolerance and prevents discrimination by integrating its work crews and varying assignments.

"We purposely mix the volunteers and the services. For example, the Christians do not have to clean churches only. They can clean other places such as monasteries or mosques," Ardi said.

Sometimes the Berhati crews encounter a chilling reception because some people can be suspicious, Ardi said.

"But we just think positively. If they do not accept our sincerity and our service, then we look for other places," he said.

'Purify your hearts'

Among the volunteers is Stephanie Yuliana, a Christian.

"I can see that this community has committed to help others in a good way," Stephanie, who has volunteered for three months, told Khabar. The experience has taught fellow volunteer Pedra Hilmawan to be more tolerant, by his own account.

"I am a Muslim and I studied in a pesantren. This community is indeed a collaborative effort involving youths, regardless of their religious backgrounds," he told Khabar.

For his part, Ahmad Rosadi, a cleric from the Baiturrahim Mosque in Tangerang, commented that such community activities would help reduce future conflict.

"Hopefully, these good deeds will be rewarded by the Lord. Cleaning houses of worship will purify your hearts," Ahmad said. "Cleanliness is part of faith."

Reader Comments
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    • murni
      June 1, 2014 @ 09:06:52PM
    • I strongly agree, because Indonesia need people who are not narrow minded. They, who claim to be religious and yet cannot accept their fellows, are the ones who do not have religion because religion is used as a tool to harm their fellows. Keep it up.
    • wilson
      May 31, 2014 @ 02:05:13PM
    • Hmm, there are still people with noble hearts in this universe, if only everybody could accept this diversity. Positive work will result in good things or at least reduce the aversion to certain things. Good...
    • Wijayanto
      May 23, 2014 @ 06:05:19AM
    • How do you join? I am 55 years old but my body is still healthy, strong and full of spirit.
    • edi
      May 22, 2014 @ 08:05:39PM
    • Okay, good, I support it.
    • sukanto
      May 21, 2014 @ 10:05:58PM
    • As for places of worship, they should be left to their own followers. But this is a very good thing for public places.
    • gading m nuh
      May 24, 2014 @ 10:05:04PM
    • If they only take care of their own it would not be tolerance. This is a good example, I approve.
    • yola
      May 21, 2014 @ 12:05:06AM
    • Inter-religious harmony is very good. Keep on building the nation of Indonesia through cooperation. Keep away from enmity because we are one nation.
    • nanung kelana
      May 20, 2014 @ 07:05:24AM
    • With good intentions there will be many solutions, beauty will come in time.
    • Yarham
      May 20, 2014 @ 03:05:20AM
    • It is truly incredible what our friends our doing. We in Dompu also have a volunteer organization but we are not widely known yet in the community. I am asking for any suggestions from you as to how to develop our organization.
    • sahadi
      May 20, 2014 @ 02:05:39AM
    • I am a citizenship education teacher and I support the idea of this community. Hopefully other communities will grow for the advancement and glory of the nation of Indonesia.
    • Yohanes Margono
      May 20, 2014 @ 12:05:50AM
    • The country will become good when it makes an effort to carry out His will, beginning with the young generation which already has tolerance and will continue this every day. Don't go back, God Bless.
    • Brengos
      May 19, 2014 @ 02:05:32AM
    • This is what we call Unity in Diversity. It is time that me revive our fading identity.
    • enjel
      May 19, 2014 @ 01:05:11AM
    • This event is a breakthrough for Indonesia's new fighters who are upholding Unity in Diversity.
    • isan
      May 18, 2014 @ 12:05:04PM
    • Don't just clean up places of worship. The government should be cleansed of corruption.
    • topo suseno
      May 16, 2014 @ 09:05:42PM
    • Whatever our religion is, we can be sure that it teaches togetherness, brotherhood and peace. Whatever religion they follow, our brothers and sisters are a part of us. Just like the parts of our bodies, we must accept them with a wise heart. No religion is better than the others, there are, however, people who have the most faith and abide by their religious teachings. Move forward "Berhati".
    • wdodo
      May 16, 2014 @ 11:05:14AM
    • I strongly agree, bro, cooperation such as this must be cultivated and maintained by the state for the good of all of us. We live in this world together and we should not discriminate. No one should feel that they have the highest claim to the world. Let us ignite the fire of Unity in Diversity.
    • wijaya
      May 16, 2014 @ 09:05:07AM
    • It is good if it is sincere. However, if this was initiated by a political party then it is a hidden campaign.
    • agustinus
      May 22, 2014 @ 06:05:14PM
    • Wijaya, my brother, try to think positively. Do not think negatively of something good. That's one perspective that will lead to living together in peace.
    • bahrulwalidin
      May 16, 2014 @ 04:05:44AM
    • There are important aspects to building a relationship between religious people but don't make it a strategy for destroying Islam. On the other side of the world Muslims are being oppressed by the non-Muslims, this needs to be highlighted.
    • Herry Rahardjo
      May 20, 2014 @ 03:05:55PM
    • Stop being suspicious, mate, their intentions are good. Join and become one of them instead of saying inflammatory words.
    • Amirullah
      May 16, 2014 @ 02:05:03AM
    • This is very good for me and my friends, I will share it.
      May 16, 2014 @ 01:05:47AM
    • It is not only ourselves that needs to be cleansed but also our hearts and environments, for cleanliness is an element of faith. Clean is holy and clean is beautiful. I feel strongly about the program that you are all running. North Maluku "Ternate", say it and do it if the intentions are good and if it yields significant benefits!
    • boneng
      May 15, 2014 @ 08:05:40PM
    • I think it would be better if these volunteers cleaned places of worship that pertain to their own religions because a Christian cannot clean a mosque. Menstruating women, even if they are Muslims, are forbidden from entering a mosque, let alone non-Muslims. So, when we hold volunteer events such as this we should not forget the laws and rules set forth in the Qur'an, friend.
    • antonius
      May 13, 2014 @ 09:05:03PM
    • Keep it up. Good deeds must continue in spite of crazy responses.
      May 13, 2014 @ 08:05:49AM
    • We can now clearly see the patches of diversity in Jakarta. Will this be able to continue and reach our homeland as a whole? I would certainly give applause for the clean hearted volunteers with good conscience for their contribution.
    • Dwi echi
      May 13, 2014 @ 02:05:47AM
    • Very good, it seems that togetherness between religions has declined. This is how it should be, positive and always positive.
    • agung ambari
      May 13, 2014 @ 12:05:26AM
    • I strongly support this activity, national harmony must begin with the small things. Congratulations to you.
    • Kristianto
      May 12, 2014 @ 09:05:14PM
    • That is very good. Don't just clean up places of worship but also cleanse the people's representatives from corruption.
    • ARY
      May 12, 2014 @ 09:05:50AM
    • Enjoy the beauty of diversity, don't just view the negative. Basically, we have a common purpose. Differences are beautiful.
    • minarsmtpang
      May 11, 2014 @ 08:05:47AM
    • I salute this generation.
    • Sugeng W
      May 6, 2014 @ 05:05:49AM
    • Very good. I see all of these as God's way of gathering those who think positively. Positive thinking has a very wide reach regardless of group, tribe, race and also religion. May God reward you all for your kindness, Amen.
    • oke
      April 28, 2014 @ 02:04:11AM
    • Only non-Muslims need to be made aware of the rules surrounding hadits and najis if they are to join in cleaning a mosque.
    • Nur Hidayati
      April 8, 2014 @ 02:04:47PM
    • I strongly agree, Dolor. If only this could be implemented throughout all of Indonesia.
    • bejoharminto
      April 8, 2014 @ 01:04:51AM
    • None of our legislative candidates can set this kind of an example. Therefore, they are not worthy of our vote, let alone a respected seat in the House of Representatives.
    • aceng dadan
      April 5, 2014 @ 06:04:18AM
    • This is a very good article. In addition to presenting information, just like what was said before, it can reduce future conflicts. Indonesia should have groups like this to realize Unity in Diversity. I have great respect for this, I hope it will develop further.
    • indra tarigan
      April 4, 2014 @ 05:04:03AM
    • This needs to be supported, so the four pillars of Indonesia will be realized.
    • Syaiful Masri
      April 2, 2014 @ 05:04:54AM
    • It is very beneficial to build a nation and country with a heterogeneous population.
    • charles
      April 1, 2014 @ 07:04:11PM
    • The young generation is one step ahead. Without tolerance this country will be destroyed. The government must support and facilitate this community.
    • jak-sulut
      April 1, 2014 @ 04:04:26PM
    • We would do well to seriously maintain this so the country's future will be blessed, especially those who took this initiative.

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