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“The future is in our hands. Everyone can take a role, no matter your age or where you live.” Young Changemaker Ara Kusuma shares her vision for a better world

About This Episode

We’re joined this week by Ashoka Young Changemaker, Ara Kusuma. Since beginning her social entrepreneurial journey at 10 years old with Project Moo, Ara was quickly recognised as a Changemaker of the future, becoming an Ashoka Youth Venturer aged 11. Ara has gone on to launch a number of organisations including Aha! Project, a scheme to improve the access of study resources for children during the pandemic. A Changemaker in every sense, Ara is dedicated to correcting the problems she sees in the world, keeping her eyes open to new ways of making an impact.

Ara Kusuma, Ashoka Young Changemaker

Obsessed with cows as a little girl, Ara Kusuma asked for a cow of her own when she was 10. She and her parents set off to Central Java to visit a few farms and learn the best way to raise and care for farm animals. The first farm they went to had 1,500 cows living in clean, healthy conditions. But at the next stop, they found a different reality. Ara wanted to know, “What if all animals could live on farms like that first one?” With support from her parents to lay out a plan, Ara started Project Moo: For the Welfare of All. The goal? To surface and share innovations among village farmers to increase dairy production in a more sustainable way. In the four years that followed, Project Moo brought together 150 farmers, many of whom became leaders in the community, testing the new approaches and spreading what worked for the benefit of all. The community became cleaner and saw more income from new dairy products and sustainable fertiliser. In 2008, at age 11, Ara was recognised as an Ashoka Youth Venturer. Following her studies in marketing and management in Singapore, she returned to Indonesia and aged 21, she has started a travel-learning project URTravelearner to help others envision changemaker lives by seeing social entrepreneurs in action. In 2020, she launched Aha! Project, a scheme to improve the access of study resources for children during the pandemic.

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Lockdown List

What is a book that has changed your life?

Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi

What are you watching at the moment?

Our Planet and The Adventures of Merlin

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My mother. She respects and appreciates the slightest thing, which may be overlooked or underestimated by others, such as and especially her role as a mother and a housewife.

In one sentence, describe your ‘new normal’.

The new normal is… not-so-normal. But hey, what’s normal anyway?

What is your best tip for life?

Think of it as if you’re going to make a history – everyone has their own pace and path, but those who give up will never make one. How do you want to be remembered?

A quote for life

Mulya Sesarengan / For the welfare of all

Name your top five 'Lockdown Tracks'

  • Until the Last Moment by Yanni
  • Gunung Salahutu by Jaya Suprana
  • The Cello Song by The Piano Guys
  • Saint Honesty by Sara Bareilles
  • The Joke by Brandi Carlile


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