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By Tiffany Goh

With just a few days before one of Islam’s holiest months, Ramadan ends, Bangun Hapsoro, our manager based in our subsidiary, PT Sukajadi Sawit Mekar, is having his patience tested this year.

Ramadan is usually marked with religious and social gatherings with families and friends. In accordance with restrictions imposed by the Indonesian government to curb the spread of COVID-19, physical distancing measures have to be observed.

“This year, Ramadan brings a whole new set of challenges. It will be different for me,” says Bangun. “I have been observing Ramadan in the Plantation at all times,”

Plantations are usually located far away from cities. Its geographical location helps buffer Bangun and his fellow colleagues from the virus, but that does not necessarily mean that they are entirely safe from it. Hence Musim Mas is making a proactive effort to safeguard the health and safety of our workers in plantations and mills from the spread of COVID-19.

As part of our support towards the government, we have developed additional guidelines on safety measures in plantations to make sure our colleagues can celebrate Ramadan and Eid at ease:

Staying home for prayers

Bangun misses going to a mosque with his colleagues for prayers, as it gave him a deep sense of connection with fellow Muslims. But that doesn’t upset him.

“The mosques are closed, but let’s make our homes our mosques. We cannot go out to socialize, but we can rekindle our relationship with our families,” he says. “After all, that is what Ramadan is all about, right?”

Bangun stays home with his family for night prayers and Quran recitals.

Breaking fast at home

For Rudi Sharta, who is also based in PT Sukajadi Sawit Mekar, Ramadan is as much about socializing as it is about prayers. With the new precautionary measures, he has no choice but to cancel his annual fast-breaking dinner with his colleagues.

The fact that he stays home during Ramadan brings the father of three children closer to his family, “It’s nice knowing we’re going to sit down as a family and break fast together. Even though it’s quieter than usual, I have a lot to be thankful for.”

Rudi’s family enjoys home-cooked meals to break the fast.

Rudi and his family spend more time together by watching a Ramadan live session on his TV at home.

Cancelling Hometown Travel Plans

The fear of spreading the virus has led the government to ban the annual exodus during Eid-Al-Fitr or locally known as Mudik. Together with the Indonesian Workers Union, Musim Mas supports and upholds the ban across its Indonesian operations.

Nevertheless, an additional Hari Raya incentive bonus will be given to those who will not be visiting their hometowns during Eid-Al-Fitr. To minimize their grocery trips, we gave our workers gift packages of hand soaps, anti-bacterial floor cleaner, and cooking oil.

For our colleagues, being in self-isolation does not mean they have to be isolated. They use video calling apps to talk to their families and friends.

Celebrating Eid-Al-Fitr in the Plantation is a new thing for Rudi. Even though the situation can be upsetting at times as he is unable to visit his extended families in Bengkulu, Indonesia, but he and his colleagues understand that breaking the chain of Covid-19 should be a collective effort.

“After all, I would still be able to keep in touch with my families through messaging apps. While we can’t celebrate Ramadan as we normally do, this is about fighting something bigger,” says Rudi.