The actress, social activist, wife and mother talks about why her love for the environment results in a new nickname.
Thirty-year-old Sara is a woman of many roles. She is an actress, a social activist, a politician, a film producer, a wife (to Harwendro Adityo Dewanto, whom she married in 2014) and a mother. Inspired by her beloved father, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, she is also an environmentalist. Thus, it is only apt for Prestige to shoot her within the lush surroundings of Pancar Mountain Nature Park in Sentul, just outside bustling Jakarta.
“In 2011, I attended the Climate Reality training sessions held here in Jakarta, where I learned first-hand about climate change from the former U.S. Vice President Al Gore,” Sara recalls. “That was the turning point that made me more proactive in fighting for the environment. Because I believe if you care about your life, you would care about the environment.”
Caring for Mother Nature
Sara says that among her many concerns about Indonesia is the issue of climate change. “Indonesia is an archipelago. It means that we’ll be one of the countries impacted most by climate change, destroying our marine life in the process. Nature doesn’t need humans; humans need nature. Indonesia is one of the world’s lungs, but we’re losing our forests and therefore depleting the earth’s oxygen and destroying the homes of many animals.”
She continues: “We need to start counting the cost of doing business that is not sustainable. We need to replant our forests, but in a way that provides sustainable living for the people who live in and around them. We need to move from fossil fuels to sustainable energy or bio fuels, and we need to see those who intentionally cause harm to our environment as criminal offenders, because they actually put our lives at risk.”
Her family business, Arsari Group – which is named after the three children of Hashim and Anie Djojohadikusumo: Aryo, Sara and Indra – whose core businesses are in agribusiness, mining, minerals, logistics and energy, has built Pusat Rehabilitasi Satwa-Harimau Sumatera Dharmasraya, a special conservation organisation situated on the land owned by one of the group’s companies, Tidar Kerinci Agung (TKA), in West Sumatra.
“Fifteen hectares of land has been allocated to the conservation of Sumatran tigers and other wildlife endemic to Sumatra,” Sara explains. “We are currently in the building stage, working with the funding and experts from The Aspinall Foundation (a British charity that works to promote wildlife conservation set up by professional gambler and zoo owner John Aspinall in 1984).”
Furthermore, Arsari Group established the Prof. Sumitro Djojohadikusumo Conservation Forest, named after Sara’s grandfather. Located in the palm plantation of TKA, this 2,400-hectare area is “planted with various local fruit plants with the hopes of fulfilling the needs of the wildlife living there,” says Sara. “For the creation of this conservation forest, PT TKA and my father have been awarded the Kalpataru for the Environment Conservationist field, given directly by the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia in June 2014.”
Hashim Djojohadikusumo, who is Arsari Group’s CEO and Chairman, supports the Jogja Nature Conservation Foundation and the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. He also established Arsari Itci Kartika Utama Forest in East Kalimantan, which has an agro culture programme for sustainable energy production. The family foundation, Yayasan Arsari Djojohadikusumo, has meanwhile been lobbying for the conservation of rhinoceros through a captivity programme in three locations owned by Arsari Group in West Sumatra, Aceh and East Kalimantan.
The Need for Role Model
Having lived abroad for quite some time, Sara, who double-majored in Classics and Drama from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and graduated from the International School of Screen Acting in London, believes that what differentiates the mindset of people in Indonesia from those in other countries is “the understanding and the policies set by the leadership, and the implementation of those policies. We need to have the right kind of policies that will benefit us and the environment we live in for the long run and we need to implement them. We need leaders who will not be afraid of being unpopular among the powerful people who only have their own interests in mind.”
Aside from environmentalism, Sara has many other projects. “My passion is to be a professional actress,” says Sara, whose debut in the movie Merah Putih in 2009 landed her the Best Actress Award at the Bali International Film Festival. “In 2009, I realised my second calling in life, which is to fight against human trafficking. Since then, I’ve also been an activist for that cause. In 2012, I decided to set up my own foundation, Parinama Astha Foundation that focuses on the issue of human trafficking. It was also for that cause that I went into politics. So I received my third calling in early 2013 to run as a legislative candidate. After months of gruelling hard work in my district and by God’s grace, I became a Congresswoman in October 2014.”
Sara recently branched out into producing international films. “At the moment, I am executive-producing a film that is being produced by John Legend. We hope to be debuting at the Sundance Film Festival next year. This year, I am reactivating my foundation. But my highest priority is being a mother to my almost seven-month-old son.”
What does Sara hope to achieve in the future? “One project I have is to set up safe houses for the victims of human trafficking and of abuse,” she replies. “On a personal level, I’d like to raise my children as future leaders who will be wise, God-loving, kind, generous and down-to-earth. Finally, I dream of having the opportunity to act in great international movies and become a household name, which I will use to influence the next generation of change-makers for the betterment of this world.”
Fashion Direction Peter Zewet
Photography Robby Agus
Styling Koko Namara
Makeup Jacqueline Stephani
Shot on location Taman Wisata Alam Gunung Pancar, Kp. Ciburial, Desa Karang Tengah, Bogor, West Java. (www.gunungpancar.co.id)