BASK’s interview with Masrun, Gili Meno’s head of the island

BASK’s interview with Masrun, Gili Meno’s head of the island

BASK’s interview with Masrun, Gili Meno’s head of island.

In Indonesia, regions are governed by elected leaders and this is true also of the Gili Islands. The person elected as Head of the Island leads for 5 years and works closely with the local government and community to develop and improve the social life and economy of the area. Gili Meno’s head of island is Masrun, a 29 year old man, married with one son with a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering. His wife is a teacher at the local school.
In his daily routines Masrun handles a diverse range of local issues, such as approval recommendations for legal matters, processing permits, leading campaigns for environmental sustainability and various other items that directly affect the island community.

During May, the month of Ramadan, Gili Meno becomes quiet and contemplative as locals stay at home while they fast. In normal times, locals engage in social activities like Zumba for the ladies and futsal (football) or fishing for men. Although locals are majority Muslim, the Ramadan month on Gili Meno is more tourist active than neighbouring Lombok as many restaurants and services remain open.

Being the head of the village, Masrun’s vision is to educate the people of Gili Meno to reach the island’s potential, particularly services to tourism, as he believes this is key to the village’s prosperity. Masrun strongly believes that Gili Meno has everything a tourist desires. It’s quiet, has an abundance of underwater life and is very family friendly,  making Gili Meno the island of choice for longer guests stays when compared with Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. This view is broadly supported by Gili Meno being named #3 best beach in South East Asia and  #1 in Indonesia in 2016 by TripAdvisor.

His programs directly involve the local community by stimulating their creativity to design and build a sustainable life. He has planned programs of educating locals on self-sustaining hydroponics, advanced waste water management systems and lifting awareness of the importance of better education for the next generation. This has already extended to practical programs such as engaging investors to build a central incinerator and maximizing accommodation throughout the island.

Masrun is also committed to preserving the traditions of Gili Meno while introducing to the village activities that tourists are able to join, along with locals, located around the lake area. These activities include  authentic local games, sports, dance and events such as Sampang Sandro – salt collecting amongst the mangroves. On infrastructure, he has plans to improve the main road around the perimeter of the island to the standard of the section that passes BASK, making travelling around the island much easier.

BASK’s NEST underwater statues have attracted the highest number of tourists to the island – around 1,000 people on average in a 12-hour period. Masrun has noted that the location became very crowded and so he successfully coordinated the locals and the government to install another underwater attraction at the north side of the island. The result is the statue of Garuda – the legendary Hindu protector bird and the national symbol of Indonesia.

Perhaps the highlight of his efforts on educating the locals on waste management is the support he secured from the government to train a group of young people on the sustainable management of waste. The mindset toward recycling has changed significantly within the local community and has resulted in the formation of the initiative known as Meno Lestari. The Meno Lestari group are now responsible for arranging the sending of trash to recycling workshops, including a facility that recycles glass. In addition to Meno Lestari, another Gili Meno group fully supported by Masrun is Trash Hero. Trash Hero coordinates children and volunteers to participate in a weekly beach clean-up, every Sunday at 4.00pm. In one successful program Trash Hero ran a food exchange program with the local people. Every plastic bottle filled with smaller plastic waste was exchanged for a kilogram of rice (donated by the island resorts).

Masrun is proud to say that Gili Meno’s economy has developed very well. He will continue to educate the community to work side-by-side with investors in developing and promoting Gili Meno’s tourism to present internationally as the most desirable holiday destination.