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“Being a storyteller is like eating multi-flavoured candy”

Published on: 21/04/2022

An interview with Khorik Istiana the winner of the 2021 Ton Schouten Award.

Khorik talking to children at a Youth with Sanitation meeting

How does it feel to be a storyteller?

Sharing stories about what it is like to be a storyteller made me reflect on myself. I chose to be a storyteller. Not because I'm good at telling stories. Being a storyteller was my choice, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.

Being a storyteller is like eating multi-flavoured candy. Sometimes it tastes bitter when my story is not well received and cannot touch the hearts of the audience. At other times, it is sweet if the stories I bring are accepted easily and move people’s hearts. Sometimes it is sour if I am confused or run out of ideas about what to tell and what other stories I want to share. These various flavoured candies have shaped my personality and made me become a better storyteller.

I love telling stories and I enjoy every bit of the process. Being a storyteller in the context of sanitation is not easy, especially because the issue is very foreign to people even to my friends and family. It is not easy to introduce issues such as menstrual hygiene and maintenance of sanitation facilities. But by continuing to try, slowly my friends begin to realise and understand it, and we have had more discussions about sanitation. It has made me happy and excited again to be a storyteller.

What is your reflection on applying for the Award?

Learning about this Award made me excited to apply, although to be honest I felt like I hadn't done much. I feel that what I did was not fully optimal, so applying for this Award made me unsure. But I brushed off that feeling and I began to reflect on myself. I have realised that for more than 3 years I have been doing good work for my family, friends and the environment. I am doing positive things by continuing to voice sanitation issues. I also have not stopped being a storyteller in the field of sanitation. So being passionate and consistent is my ninja move to continue the good things I'm doing.

Raising awareness for the rehabilitation of toilets in one of the Kelurahan (neighbourhoods) in Bandar Lampung City

How does it feel to win an Award?

As I said before, I did not feel confident that I would win this Award. So, when I was told that I had won, I was in shock, my body was shaking, and I wanted to cry because I couldn't believe it. Then I realised that maybe this is a form of appreciation for myself and that my efforts are appreciated. I can and am able to do many more things in the future. It has made me so motivated to do more and more in voicing the sanitation issues.

What have you done with the Award money?

I have used it to improve my skills on languages. I'm a little bit constrained in communication due to a lack of knowledge of foreign languages. So, I took a course to improve my language communication skills to get more out of networking and discussing with people who are also campaigning for a better environment globally. Also, I used the money to encourage the campus press to raise issues around sanitation in their respective campuses so that sanitation is also a topic of discussion that is highlighted in campus publications. Some of the money I used to produce content. This money has really helped me in many ways and helped me to become a better storyteller in the future.

How will you proceed?

I have realised that the relay to continue being a storyteller certainly shouldn't stop with me. I am also looking for and recruiting new storytellers to work with so that new stories will keep coming from many different people with different backgrounds. 

Can you encourage young people to apply?

By giving an example of what I do with my organisation Youth with Sanitation Concern (YSC). We are educating about good sanitation online and offline, we are also often campaigning on social media platforms. Recently, we raised funds for the rehabilitation of toilets in one of the Kelurahan (neighbourhoods) in Bandar Lampung City. By giving examples of activities that our organisation and I have done, it may be possible to trigger someone else to duplicate these activities. I and the YSC organisation will share a post about what the Tom Schouten Award is on social media platforms to inform young people engaged in the WASH sector that they can apply regardless of background, culture, ethnicity and origin. Because your efforts and hard work can earn an appreciation that you never imagined. I recommend registering yourself because you will get support that will help you to develop your potential for the future.

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