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Mbok Denik: "Being Different is Not Wrong"


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Mbok Denik or Ni Made Puriati, her life dedicated for community empowerment and wellbeing, particularly participatory mapping, advocacy, and women movement. The milestone has guided her career from its start and led her to Yayasan Wisnu and now took the role as the director of the foundation.

"Denik, stands for Made Cenik or the youngest Made,[1] in short Denik" said Mbok Denik explaining the origin of her nickname. Ni Made Puriati was born in Mengwi, Bali, and came from a family of farmers and construction workers. As the youngest of four children, she also has six cousins living in a household called Kempaon, consisting of eight women and three men. Though surrounded by women, her upbringing never differentiated between the role of men and women. "We are farmer family. We don't have the privilege of choosing what we want, so we need to do all the work, or things will be difficult (for us)".

Mbok Denik said the household roles are different compared to Bali's customary roles. When it comes to decision-making, men take the lead. Women tend to be the support system of the family. It is because customary-related decision-making will affect many people and sekala and niskala (the living and the hereafter). It is often draining on the energy and emotion. The men do not want to add burden to the women during customary events, which is why men take the lead. Besides managing the household, Balinese women mostly share the responsibility as the family's economic provider.

Unlike her siblings, pursuing education was essential for Mbok Denik from the very beginning. She considered this as a way to seek a better fortune, but along the way, she felt that this was not the entire reason for schooling. With courage, she pursued her dream, until she who graduated with a university degree from the Al-Falah University in Surabaya, East Java and Panji Sakti University, Singaraja, Bali. Mbok Denik dared to be different and choose her path to become a successful, prosperous and happy female social entrepreneur. Her courage also led her to work in a non-governmental organization focusing on environmental management and community empowerment.  

Working for the Wisnu Foundation since 2000, and currently the Foundation director, she humbly said, "I am still a villager. I love the village very much." Her love for the village made her continue to strive for community development. One of the programs she coordinates is to revive Mertajati Tamblingan Adat Dalem Tamblingan in Catur, Buleleng Village, Bali, as a tradition-based sustainable forest learning center. With Samdhana Institute's support, the program aims to save Alas Mertajati as a source of life and livelihood, and maintain its function as a learning center on sustainable forest. Further, the program supports the Dalem Tamblingan Customary Community to regain Alas Mertajati as their customary forest through a social forestry scheme. In parallel, it also prepares the area to be the learning center.   

This program is aiming on the younger generation, the parents perceive the program as a positive way of influencing the young people. Mbok Denik said, "Many mothers commented that they are very proud of what their children had done; and they became more aware of environmental issues."

Talking about the women's role, Mbok Denik revealed that there is an expression of Ibu Pertiwi and Bapak Angkasa (mother earth and father sky) in Bali. "We need to take care of Ibu Pertiwi as our beloved mother earth, but not forget that without the sun, the moon, and the stars (Bapak Angkasa) the world would not run accordingly.” She agrees that women are perceived as the source of life that needs to be protected, but this does not mean that women are weak or are the only ones who have needs. “Both men and women have an equal role in the universe, so they must walk hand in hand".

In celebration of World Women's Day this March, Mbok Denik wishes to send a message to all women. "Do not be afraid to be different. Soleh is ok. Soleh in Balinese means different. Be a woman who dares to be different, but be different with good nature," she said.

"You can be poor, but don't be poor in power and creativity. Keep building courage, continue to voice aspirations, and never be afraid to be different.” Mbok Denik feels the need to convey this message because the oppression of some people in Indonesia still occurs, and often their existence is ignored. She aspires to continue to speak the voices of those who are marginalized. One thing more she wants us to remember: less thinking and talking about it, but more of doing it. ###


[1] Made is the term for the second child according to the naming tradition among Balinese tribe -Wikipedia


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