Life in the landfill never dampened Resa Boenard's spirit, and she hopes other children will find the same hope. The social entrepreneur behind BGBJ, and more recently ARBIE, has made her old life the focus of her new life by relieving poverty and tackling waste management

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Resa Boenard grew up within the slopes of one of the largest landfills in Southeast Asia, at Bantar Gebang in the West Java commuter city of Bekasi. Living here, she saw at first hand how it turned from green rice fields to a dump site for 6,700 tons of waste from Jakarta. As trash piled up, 3,000 families lived in poverty, salvaging materials such as plastic, metal and glass to make money.

Boenard recalls growing up amid hardship, and going to school with friends who pointed out the sour smell of her clothes and shoes. But while her surroundings seemed dire, her dreams remained bright. She believed in education, and acquired an opportunity to learn from a boarding school to study. There, she decided to bring back her education to her home in Bantar Gebang by setting up the community centre of BGBJ, or "The Seeds of Bantar Gebang".

Boenard’s organisation hopes to provide extra-curricular education to other children living in the area and help them flourish. The aim is for children to break the cycle of poverty. BGBJ also has a social enterprise through a hostel that allows people to experience living at a dumping site, whether to volunteer for the community or do research. There is also an upcycling workshop that provides vocational training in creating personalised items, houseware and items which are for sale, and whose profits go back to the community.

Just this year, Boenard is involved with ARBIE, a social waste-management enterprise that upcycles plastic waste from Bantar Gebang and other landfills to create commercially viable building materials.

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Boenard was able to get support to get a degree from the University of Gunadarma, Depok, South Jakarta from her foster parents, a couple from England who visited the dump site.

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