Project O: A Night of Charitable Joy

On 7 October 2017, RMIT University Storey Hall lit up with a wide range of productions from skits, dances, stand-up comedy to an assortment of singing performances. Project O 2017 focalised their event on the theme “Happiness in Giving” and centred their shows on the dynamics of education and their appreciation towards Papuan culture. Since its inception in 2010, Project O had set itself apart from other Melburnian events by focusing not only on the entertainment aspect but also on the social issues within Indonesia. This year, Project O collaborated with Book for Papua with the aim of improving access to education in Indonesia’s most western region. Not only did Project O raise awareness of the non-profit organisation and the literacy issue in Papua, but they also donated 60% of the event’s income to Book for Papua. “We define success by the outcome of our cause. Our event is only a success the moment our project could improve the quality of education in Indonesia especially children in Wamena, Papua,” said Fransiska Darmawan and Avada Nirel, the Project Managers of Project O 2017. Following welcoming speeches from the President of PPIA RMIT, Joshua Koswara, Project O Project Managers, and Dewi Savitri Wahab, the Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia for Victoria, the three-membered band Klaudspirits opened the evening with a song cover of popular Indonesian band Noah and their own original song. The winner from Project O’s pre-event “Samuna”, a four-membered band called Ajoy, then continued to keep the audience on the edge of their seat with their rendition of a traditional Papua song “Apuse Kokondau”. Accompanied with contemporary dances, the acoustic arrangement of the song induced melancholic and nostalgic atmosphere to the whole auditorium. Two skits by Students of Melbourne followed the performances of the evening. The first skit showed a contrasting scenario between a school at an Indonesian metropolitan city and a rural village in Papua. While the urban students expressed indifference towards their accessibility to learning facilities, the rural students were struggling to obtain new learning materials such as books and notes. The second skit concentrated on the importance of staying true to oneself despite the social expectations and new whereabouts, which was an issue relatable to many Indonesians overseas. Monash University student Yehezkiel Nicolas Susanto shared his experience and remarked that he thoroughly enjoyed the performances. “The event [Project O 2017] was a great success,” he said. “It was really good from the powerful skits to the singing performances. Amazing!” Later in the evening, the stand-up comedian Mamat ruled the stage. Originally from Papua, Mamat was drawn to Project O’s cause as he could relate to the Papuan’ struggle with scarce access to education. “Be successful. Have dreams. Achieve them,” said Mamat during Project O press conference to Indonesian student overseas. “But don't forget your roots, don't forget to come home. Indonesia is a growing community that is perpetually in need of contribution and improvement. You are pursuing your goals and dreams while children in papua do not have the same opportunities as you do. To have dreams is a privilege to them, to be able to achieve them is a miracle.” Although Project O was Mamat’s first time performing overseas, his performance was beyond memorable. He delivered jokes that brought the auditorium into bursts of laughter. While his topics revolved around his native region Papua, Mamat satirically addressed the existent stereotypes and uttered inspiring commentaries on eradicating discrimination on the basis of appearance. But Mamat was not the only highlight of the evening. The singer-songwriter Yura gave an equally unique performance with her captivating voice. She performed her hit songs along with a song that had a Sundanese-Jazz arrangement. Resonating the message of the second skit, Yura emphasised the importance of remembering where we came from. “The idea of “Happiness in Giving” makes you feel good about yourself because giving and sharing is much more rewarding than just receiving,” said Yura during the press conference. “This is also the perfect opportunity to inspire a sense of nationalism and pride in our culture and language since we are living overseas.” Yura’s tribute to Sundanese music was evident in her performance. Her Sunda-Broadway-Jazz arrangement as well as her song “Cinta dan Rahasia” proved to be a hit as she drove the crowd to the front of the stage to sing along. As the evening drew to a close, Clara Tandi from RMIT University felt positively charitable and commented, “It is really nice to know that profits [from the event] are given back [to society].” Fransiska Darmawan and Avada Nirel added that it was an evening filled with relief and triumph after months of hard work. “We hope that the event reminds fellow Indonesians of their roots. We believe that through these performances, people can reflect on themselves better, and that the impact will be stronger and will last longer,” they said. With the audience’s positive responses to Project O 2017, Fransiska and Avada were optimistic that the committee next year would exceed the hype from this year’s event and continue raising awareness of the social condition and education system in Indonesia. “Just like our motto, “Share to learn, learn to share”, we aim to break the poverty chain by helping Indonesian students obtain a better access to a education.”

Project O: Happiness in Giving

Project O returns this October for its seventh year, showcasing Indonesian talent and rich culture for a charitable cause. Witness RMIT Alumni Courtyard getting transformed into a night of full of dances, Melburnian skits, live stand-up comedy, and Yura’s singing performance on 7 October 2017! Themed “Happiness in Giving”, this year’s Project O collaborates with Book for Papua to minimise the cycle of poverty and improve the literacy conditions in Papua. Different from past years, Project O 2017 focuses on both children and adults alike while highlighting four key goals, i.e. education, hygiene, food and health, for the betterment of Indonesia. As a prelude to the main event held on October 7, Project O hosted “Pasar Malam Untuk Amal”, or “Samuna”, on 26 August 2017. This pre-event incorporated activities such as interactive games, live performances, and food bazaar. The games during Samuna were designed to increase awareness of the “health, education and hygiene” of Papuan children. Such games include a mix of ring toss and trivia Q&A as well as blindfolding a group of players to travel on a lined path. However, these kids need wider access to technology, education and healthcare in order to develop and succeed. The live performances during Samuna were chosen via online voting prior to the event. The audience could vote for the Indonesian artist they’d like to see by donating to Project O’s online funding source. The top five winners from the voting would then be selected, and one of them would be invited to perform at Samuna and the main Project O event. In this way, Project O encourages the audience’s engagement, thus building the hype prior to the actual event. All proceeds from Samuna will go towards Project O’s main event and most importantly, Book for Papua. But it does not end there. If you want to continue being socially responsible while enjoying yourself surrounded with Indonesian talents, come to Project O 2017’s main program on 7 October 2017 at RMIT Alumni Courtyard.
Project O 2017’s main program will take place on October 7 at RMIT Alumni Courtyard. Tickets to the main event are currently available for purchase online. The individual ticket goes for $15 per ticket while the bundle ticket for five goes for $65. To find out more about Project O’s program and their cause, please visit their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Project O is also still receiving donations on KitaBisa and GoFundMe pages, all of which will be donated to Book for Papua.