Friendship Parks in Indonesia

Stories | February 24, 2023 | Author: Kirsten Bate , Program Coordinator

We all know how helpful it can be to share our worries with a friend or family member. Research even backs this up. Sometimes, though, it is hard to find a time or place to do this.  

In Indonesia, one of our project teams are working on a mental health project decided to harness the benefits of sharing our troubles by funding two Friendship Parks in Yogyakarta. These are brightly coloured accessible spaces, protected from the sun and rain, which provide seating for people to gather.

They are also surrounded by hopeful words, such as “friendship” and “joy”. A sign explains they have been provided to the local community as a place to sit and talk in comfort, to share thoughts and concerns with those close to them. 

The idea came from Zimbabwe, where Friendship Benches have become a common way to encourage “Talking Therapy” in communities. In Zimbabwe, trained community health workers, usually older women, make themselves available for people to talk to at discreetly placed wooden benches.  
It is hoped that one day there is a Friendship Bench within walking distance of everyone.

There was even Friendship Benches at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar! The Friendship Parks funded by CBM in Indonesia have become very popular, used by couples, families, teenagers, self-help groups and mental health volunteers to talk about their worries and provide a supportive ear to one another.  

They are helping to lift the burden of stress and provide relief from some of the trials of day-to-day life. They have also generated lots of discussion about the important role communities play in supporting members’ mental health.  

CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and thanks our partner Pusat Rehabilitasi YAKKUM. 

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