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For APRIL's Fire Awareness Community Coordinator, Riana Ekawati, the most interesting yet challenging part of her job is to find long-term solutions to prevent land and forest fire in Indonesia.

In 2019, Riana took part as a fellow for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Professional Development Program under the theme of Sustainable Development and the Environment. This program provides the opportunity for young leaders from Southeast Asia to spend six weeks in the United States to work directly with American counterparts.

She was selected to join the YSEALI after writing an essay on the Fire-Free Village Program (FFVP), a community-based initiative started in 2014 to target the root causes of fire and encourage alternatives to slash-and-burn agricultural practices.

With the essay, Riana managed to beat the other 800 entrants and became one of three representatives from Indonesia who spent six weeks in Seattle. Seattle enjoys a well-earned reputation for being an environmental leader in the USA.

APRIL actively supports employee skills development, and immediately gave her permission to spend six weeks on the YSEALI program.

Most of the environmental problems facing Seattle are quite different to those in Indonesia. But Riani still learned about some interesting methods that could be implemented in her homeland.

"They have this program called Resilient Community, which is a long-term program to raise community awareness on environmental issues and natural disasters. The most interesting part of this program is how it focuses on educating the younger generation," Riana said.

"This program increases the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within Seattle to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses or acute shocks they encounter. This capacity will be sustained and developed by the next generation," she said, adding that there are also dedicated teachers who provide education on Resilient Community to their students.

From what Riana saw, Resilient Community is an adaptable program to tackle the forest fire issues in Indonesia.

"APRIL has been doing similar things through our FFVP. We also focus on educating the younger generation by distributing 'Bunga and Alam' (Flower Girl and Nature Boy) fire awareness comics to the school children," Riana added.

The comic, which carries the tagline 'Bebas asap itu keren!' (Smoke-free is cool!) features two characters - Bunga and Alam - who learn about the dangers of land burning and the significance of fire prevention.

Since 2016, Riana has been hard at work introducing and enhancing fire prevention awareness among young students at 291 schools by using the comic as the medium.

Riana obtained the company's permission to bring a copy of the comic bundle to Seattle.

"I showed our comics during a meeting with several environmental organizations such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the Emergency Management Division of Washington State Military Department, and other regional environmental protection agencies. They really appreciated our work," she said.

The YSEALI Professional and Development Program gave Riana a unique opportunity to learn and contribute more to the sustainability implementation in Indonesia with APRIL.

"I got so many insights from this training that reassured me that I've been doing the right thing with APRIL on land and forest fire prevention. All we have to do is keep doing it as it is a long-term effort to foster generational investments," Riana explained.

Riana shared that she has come up with storylines for the comics so far, while a professional graphic artist is commissioned to illustrate them.

"Bunga and Alam are meant to be our fire prevention heroes to the children and the children seem to instantly know the slogan 'Smoke free is cool!' and understand what it means. This one sentence is enough to remind them about fire prevention, a memorable sentence to be remembered as they grow up," she said.

"I know for sure that APRIL will continue to support this program as well as supporting each employee who is keen to seek personal development so that we can continue working hand in hand in doing what's good for the community, country, climate, customer, and company," Riana said.

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