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In 2008 Helmi learned a very expensive lesson. Seeking a quick way to clear some land for farming, he lit a fire. The fire quickly spread out of control and engulfed neighbouring land, causing significant damage before it was extinguished.

For setting the fire in Kuala Tolam Village in Indonesia’s Riau province, Helmi was fined IDR20 million, and he and his wife had to sell their gold in order to meet the bill. At that moment he vowed that in future he would work to protect the forest.

Helmi’s story is not unusual. Fire has been used to clear land for generations by local communities lacking access to finance and modern equipment. As well as being quick and cheap, the ash from the destroyed forest acts as a fertiliser. But fires can easily spread out of control, particularly in the dry season, leading to events like the 2015 haze which blanketed much of the reason in smoke and cost Indonesia almost two percent of its GDP, according to the World Bank.

Before Efendi, perhaps no one would have thought that a teenager from a remote Indonesian island would be able to pursue higher education and contribute to the development of the country’s technology.

However, the Pulau Padang native has achieved just that, having been the first student from that area of Kepulauan Meranti in Riau to receive a scholarship from the APRIL Group.

“At first, I did not expect that I would reach this stage because previously there were no students from Pulau Padang who had ever received a scholarship from APRIL,” says Efendi.

Efendi comes from a low-income family, which additionally buried Efendi’s dream of being able to attend university at first.

The word “surrender” does not exist in Tukiman’s dictionary. Although he has been constrained by a physical disability since childhood, his spirit to live and work like everyone else has never dampened.

“My situation has always been like this from the very beginning, but I do not want to be pitied like others.

“Because of my condition, I was unable to get a job like everyone else. From there, I formed the intention to open my own workshop,” Tukiman says.

Armed with mechanical skills he acquired from a training course, Tukiman bravely ventured to open the “Man Service” motorcycle workshop in Gabung Makmur Village, Kerinci Kanan District, Siak Regency in Indonesia.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not just an Indonesian issue but a global one and everyone - including young people - from any country can collectively contribute towards achieving them.

That’s the sentiment expressed by 20-year-old Galuh Widyastuti, following her recent participation at the YES4SDG Youth Summit held in Bangkok from October 10 to 14.

The second year University of Indonesia student, who hails from Salatiga in Central Java, has been an ambassador for The Fascinating World of Forestry (TFWoF) since April this year.

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