Choosing Stability Comes at a Price.

Ibu Mawar and her daughter. | Photograph by Christina Leigh Geros
Ibu Mawar and her youngest daughter, Amahbi. | Photograph by Christina Leigh Geros


Few of us know what it is like to watch years of hard work and memories be reduced to debris at the whim of a wrecking ball; but for many families in Jakarta, this is an all-too-regular reality.
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Born in Central Java, Ibu Mawar*, now 46-years-old, moved to Jakarta with her parents when she was a young child. Regardless of the struggles of relocating and building a new life in the big city, she enjoyed a typical childhood living along the banks of the Cisadane River. While attending school and playing with friends, she dreamed of building her own family and home one day.

After marrying her husband, they rented a room not far from her childhood home in a kampung along the river’s edge. Pak Ke, Ibu Mawar’s husband, found work in construction; while she found a position as a laborer in a nearby soap factory. They started a family and worked towards stability and comfort. Hard work and penny-pinching eventually paid off and they built their own house on the banks of the Cisadane River–better know as Banjir Kanal Barat.

In 2001, the government evicted many homes along the canal for improvements planned to help mitigate flood events in the city. Ibu Mawar’s family lost their home. With few options available, she and her husband decided to move themselves and their four children to another kampung under the Tol Sedyatmoko–an elevated toll road that connects the city to the airport.

Tol Sedyatmoko traces the path of a riverbed through the city. Overflowing with refuse, the riverbed does still flood on a regular basis. The homes are tucked into the —> Read More