BANYUMAS. The former Migrant Workers of Indonesian (Buruh Migran Indonesia (BMI)) in many villages of Banyumas often felt ashamed when they were called as former BMIs or former TKIs. The reasons why they felt ashamed were also different. This finding could frequently be found by SERUNI when we were taking part in meetings held by PKK (Pendidikan Kesejahteraan Keluarga (Family Welfare Education)) in the village.
On Monday (16/4/2012), SERUNI had once joined meetings held by each PKK of two villages, Kedung Urang village and Gancang village of Gumelar district, Banyumas. When the activists of SERUNI addressed questions in the forum regarding to who used to be a BMI, none responded.
After a few explanations were delivered, however, they finally admitted that they used to be a BMI. Even, of the two villages, the wives of their head villages were also former BMIs. Kursiyati, the wife of the head village of Kedung Urang, once worked in Saudi Arabia, so did Supri, the wife of the head village of Gancang.
“Mom, migrant workers are the same as other proffesions; pamong desa (village officials), teachers, factory workers as well as labours. Why should be ashamed to be called as former migrant workers?” Waryati, the activist of SERUNI who once worked in Singapore before the PKK mothers of Gancang village, asserted (16/4/2012).
Such shame feeling created difficulties for SERUNI when we conducted direct data collection of the society, including when some departments assigned SERUNI to search for former BMIs to be empowered in the provincial level.
“In society, there is still a belief assuming that BMIs are merely a household helper, and such work is considered as a low-leveled job. Perhaps, this is one of the factors why they felt less confident admitting themselves as a former TKI,” Lili Purwani, the chief of Migrant Care Association and Seruni Women of Banyumas (Paguyuban Peduli Buruh Migran dan Perempuan Seruni Banyumas), inserted responding to such phenomena.
SERUNI also continuously distributed understanding to former BMIs, their family, and people in general in order that their assumption upon them working abroad, especially women, changed and the work they did was not compared to the low-leveled job. (**)