Louise Waddell, July 2017

I had the pleasure of interning for two months at the Biogas Rumah (BIRU) Central Java office. As I am still completing my undergraduate degree in sustainable development and international aid and development I was slightly nervous about what I had to offer to BIRU. However, Pak Willem Leang, the Provincial Coordinator for this office, made it clear that there was no need to be concerned as he understands I am still learning. Pak Willem and the team at BIRU ensured my time here would be an opportunity to share everything there is to know about digesters, biogas, bio slurry and subsidies in Indonesia. We also took the time to enjoy eating delicious Indonesian food together, visit temples, tea plantations and generally show me the beauty of Java.

We spent days meeting users across the Yogyakarta area and I got to see first-hand the benefits of biogas and the BIRU approach. I appreciate that BIRU doesn’t believe in building digesters for free, they want their users to be proud and have ownership. What I loved most about the BIRU program is that it isn’t just about the gas, it is the whole package of owning a digester that can enhance people’s life’s by utilising the bio slurry as well.

I had the opportunity to travel to the office in Malang, East Java where majority of users are utilising their bio slurry to replace generic fertilisers and pesticides. It was a great experience to meet so many happy farmers who were proud to boast their latest crop of chilies, papayas and various other vegetables that had improved phenomenally since using the bio slurry. Pak Wasis (Provincial Coordinator of East Java office) was kind enough to arrange a visit to the Nestle Factory where I learnt about how Nestle is helping subsidise digesters for dairy farmers, under the guidance of BIRU and its Construction Partners.

My time here has been an incredible experience, I have learnt SO much and I cannot thank the team at BIRU enough for their enthusiasm and energy. Shout out to Mbak Siti who I shared a kos with, thanks for making me feel at home and providing endless laughs. For anyone who is considering interning here, go for it! I was able to contribute articles to the website, learn about Javanese culture and get a taste of agriculture and renewable energy in Indonesia. Pak Basuki even took the time to teach us how to draw the layout to build a digester, so who knows hopefully in the future I can use the BIRU fixed dome design and spread the biogas love.

Max Schmiel, July 2017

From January until June 2017 I was granted the opportunity to learn about Biogas and further issues concerning renewable energy and sustainable agriculture as an intern at Yayasan Rumah Energi. My program started out with quality inspections and meetings with partner organisations around Central Jawa and the Special Region of Yogyakarta to get a good grip of Biogas Rumah (BIRU)'s day to day activities.

When I had settled in and was familiar enough with all the aspects of BIRU's operations, I set out for other provinces. The journey took me to Sumba, Lombok, Bali and Sulawesi, where I would gather material for articles on the BIRU website as well as try to investigate the perception of organic, sustainable agriculture in Indonesia. Conversations with biogas users throughout Indonesia gave me a good perspective of what the potential of biogas is and how to exploit it better. I was able to learn a lot from longtime biogas users about difficulties in the application of the organic fertilizer and was able to hand on their knowledge to other users by giving them (hopefully helpful) advice.

Overall, my stay with BIRU was one of the greatest experiences of my life, as it not only taught me a lot about organic farming, but also brought me into contact with many wonderful people across the country who gave me a deeper insight on Indonesian culture.

James Lawther, July 2017

I first came to know about Biogas Rumah (BIRU) at a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) exposition at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I had only arrived in Yogyakarta a week earlier, and was excited at the 5 month development-orientated study program that I had ahead of me as part of ACICIS (The Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies). The main component of the program was to undertake a two month internship at a local development organisation, and I was keen to find one with a focus on sustainability or renewable energy. I began chatting to the two staff manning the BIRU stand there, both foreigners who were also interns. Seeing my interest, they invited me to talk to the Provincial Coordinator and head honcho of BIRU’s office in Central Java & Yogyakarta, Pak Willem. After deciding that I wanted to do my internship there, strategies for proving my worth started racing through my head. What are my strengths? What can I offer? What can they get out of me? What will my presence achieve for them? When I asked Pak Willem what he would want from me, he looked surprised. "To learn about biogas, of course" was the response. Would BIRU be willing to take me on? Sure!

Weeks later, when I had arrived and settled into the office on my first day, we had a chat about the direction that my internship there was going to take. "I have a problem with the way many organisations use interns" Pak Willem said. "They just use them as free labour." I had heard about this problem often from my peers at university. They shared all too common stories of people, excited at landing an internship in the area of their interest, being stuck in the office making photocopies, running errands and twiddling their thumbs. Hardly the motivating first steps on their career path that they had been hoping for. "I believe that interns are here to learn, not work," he said. "So instead of allocating you work to fill each day, all I want you to do is observe as much as possible, learn as much as possible, and take that knowledge away with you."

But what do they get out of this? "This is for the environment, it is not for BIRU." However, in a global sense it is also working towards BIRU’s main goal, which Pak Willem says is "the protection of the environment". Going to such lengths to educate interns does not directly benefit BIRU, and they ask of nothing in return (except for a couple of short articles, about anything biogas related, to put on the website). But the philosophy is that it helps BIRU achieve its overall mission by promoting environmental conservation and renewable outside of their immediate area of work. It is interesting that BIRU has decided to build this strategy into their operations, using interns not as labour resources but as people who can spread the organisation’s, as well as the global renewable energy movement’s, ideas and values. Why not? It costs resources, but the interns can then go off into the world with all that they have learnt and use it to promote biogas.

This altruistic approach to taking on interns is unfamiliar to me. My perception of internships is that generally people undertaking them aren’t needed and are often seen as excess baggage. Usually, you first have to persuade an organisation to accept you (unless they have an existing internship program) and then be happy when assigned medial jobs. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find and area where you can be useful and end up on the pay roll. It seems that for the most part, I am correct. Many other students undertaking the same study program as I, all interning at NGOs, complain about either doing boring, repetitive tasks such as translating documents or sitting in the office not doing anything at all. BIRU’s approach seems to be the exception, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this forward thinking program.

Stefanny Trifena, April 2017

Saat liburan semester pendek bulan Januari sampai Maret 2017 lalu, saya berkesempatan melakukan magang di Rumah Energi. Nama saya Stefanny Trifena, mahasiswi Program Studi Teknik Lingkungan di Universitas Surya. Jujur saya belum pernah magang di LSM, karena selama ini saya melakukan magang di perusahaan, jadi saya belum tau apa yang harus dilakukan di sana. Hasilnya luar biasa! Banyak sekali pengalaman yang saya dapat selama magang di sana. Saya bisa belajar pengembangan bisnis biogas (concept note, logical framework, business canvas, dan lain-lain), rencana keuangan bisnis biogas (funding, micro-finance, dan lainnya), teknis reaktor biogas (pembuatan reaktor biogas, proses, pemeliharaan, dan lain-lain), bisnis turunan biogas (kascing, lemna, budidaya ikan, dan sebagainya), cara sosialisasi saat kunjungan lapangan ke Kecamatan Cikajang, Garut, Jawa Barat, dan masih banyak lagi. Tak lupa saya juga berterima kasih kepada Rumah Energi beserta para stafnya yang sangat ramah dan bersedia berbagi ilmunya dengan saya.

Venessa Damanik, April 2017

Saya mahasiswi dari Universitas Surya, jurusan Teknik Lingkungan. Saya magang di Yayasan Rumah Energi selama 2 bulan.

Awalnya saya memilih magang di Rumah Energi karena tertarik dengan Program Biogas Rumah (BIRU), kebetulan saya pernah belajar tentang biogas di bangku kuliah. Tetapi, setelah magang, saya baru tahu kalau bio-slurry (ampas biogas) dapat dijadikan pupuk, pestisida organik, media budidaya cacing dan lemna. Tentu saja ini merupakan pengetahuan baru bagi saya dan menambah semangat saya untuk belajar tentang biogas.

Selama magang, saya belajar tentang bagaimana membuat concept note dan logical framework untuk bisnis bio-slurry dibantu oleh Bu Lina. Saya juga belajar tentang bio-digester dan diberi kesempatan untuk ikut membuat modul biogas dan bio-slurry. Selain itu, saya juga ikut serta dalam beberapa rapat, seperti rapat dengan tim Rumah Energi, acara MOU antara Rumah Energi dengan Perum Jasa Tirta II dan Quality Inspector Meeting serta mengikuti training tentang media sosial yang diadakan oleh Hivos. Di minggu ke tujuh, saya berkesempatan mengunjungi Desa Mekarjaya, Kecamatan Cikajang, Jawa Barat selama 2 hari untuk melihat reaktor biogas dan pemanfaatan bio-slurry di desa tersebut. Selama di sana saya berhasil mewawancarai beberapa pengguna biogas dan Manager Utama KPGS (Koperasi Peternak Garut Selatan). Saya dapat melihat langsung bagaimana warga di sana menggunakan reaktor biogas dan memanfaatkan bio-slurry untuk ternak cacing, lemna (duckweed) dan pupuk untuk tanaman serta mengetahui bagaimana peran KPGS dalam mendukung pengembangan reaktor biogas. Saya juga ikut membuat artikel untuk website dari hasil kunjungan saya ke Cikajang. Saya berharap semakin banyak peternak yang menggunakan biogas dan ikut merasakan manfaat dari bisnis bioslurry dan produk turunannya.

Terakhir, saya ingin berterimakasih kepada Rumah Energi dan semua staf yang telah mengizinkan dan membantu saya selama magang dan telah membagi ilmunya kepada saya.

Joshua Parfitt, February 2017

I interned with Biogas Rumah (BIRU) for close to six months, with the office that looks after the provinces of Central Java and Yogyakarta. I was the first long-term foreign intern at the organisation, however I was warmly welcomed and settled in very quickly. The Biogas Rumah project has such amazing scope, encompassing organic farming, renewable energy, carbon-trading, economics and sustainable development. The Provincial Coordinator Bapak Willem Leang discussed my internship from very early on, and made sure we were both on the same page about my allocated tasks.

Since I have a background in writing, Pak Willem encouraged me to begin reporting and writing articles for the website. Luckily I could already speak Indonesian, and this helped me immensely with interviews. I ended up writing 11 articles over a four month period. I received a lot of genuine support from all the staff, and was blessed to be able to travel to East Java, Bali and Lombok, to gather more success stories (and have some jalan-jalan time!). Besides this main focus, I was trained to supervise the construction of the Biogas Rumah style bio-digester. I learnt about credit unions, loans, co-operatives, tofu, government tenders, duckweed, chickens, Balinese cosmology, and so much more.

All this in such a short period of time! I give thanks from the bottom of my heart to Biogas Rumah, and also to Bapak Bambang Prastyanto, who kindly hosted me at his house during my internship. I highly recommend BIRU—not just because of its success, but because of the indefatigable support from Bapak Willem and all the members of staff from Lampung to NTT. Biogas Rumah is truly a ‘rumah’ for anyone who swings by.

Myora Kane, February 2017

I've almost finish a 4 week internship with Biogas Rumah in the Klaten office.

I'm an Australian student studying Indonesian and Chemical engineering so Biogas Rumah (BIRU) is the perfect internship for me.

Over my month internship, I've gone to the field on numerous quality inspections of biogas reactors in Central Java. I've also attended various GADING Programme's training seminars in both Central and West Java, on topics such as gender, bio slurry and lemna (duckweed). In the 3rd week of my internship I went along to various meeting with credit unions, micro finance organisations and Bank Jateng and observed as connections were established between them all to build a project that aimed to make small loans available to farmers who want to invest in biogas. I spent a week in West Jawa visiting the Bandung and Jakarta offices. While there I went to the field and had the opportunity to observe the biogas programs in the communities there. It was interesting to compare the communities on Central Java and West Java, even just noticing the cultural and geographical differences. I've helped write pieces for the websites, learnt about the engineering side of the biogas, the varies ways bio-slurry can be used. Drawing on these experiences in the field I helped write a section of a grant application for the Jakarta office.