Borneo, the third-largest island in the world, is located north of Australia. The East Kalimantan province of the island is rich with natural resources. Since the 1970s when Indonesia opened its mineral and natural resources for foreign investment, there has been a boom in East Kalimantan in the mining, forestry and petroleum industries. Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo.

Indonesia Kalimantan Province

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • Many Compassion-assisted children and their families live along the Mahakan River and use its water for their household needs. East Indonesia boats and homes on water
  • At their Compassion-assisted child development center, children find the love, encouragement and support they need to overcome poverty. East Indonesia smiling girl closeup
  • The Compassion curriculum, adapted to the Indonesian culture, gives center tutors the confidence that they are providing the lessons that children need most. East Indonesia young children lined up
  • Tutoring and extra academic lessons help make up for deficits of the public education system. East Indonesia three boys with teacher
  • Good hygiene is not just taught but also practiced at Compassion centers. East Indonesia children brushing teeth
  • Local markets are busy places in East Kalimantan Province. East Indonesia produce market

Overview: East Kalimantan Province

Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. Kalimantan occupies the southern 70 percent of the island and is divided into four provinces. The other 30 percent of the island is occupied by the countries of Brunei and Malaysia. In 2008, Compassion launched ministry in East Kalimantan, Indonesia’s second-largest province.

The children served by Compassion in East Kalimantan live in the province’s capital city of Samarinda and in the rural areas surrounding the city.

The people in the rural areas are primarily of the Dayak and Kutai ethnic groups, and their livelihood centers on growing rice or working in rubber-tree farms and large plantations. Many people work in the local mines.

In Samarinda, a city of about 600,000 people, there are more opportunities for work in business and service industries. Rural workers typically earn the equivalent of about $58 per month. In the city, income is higher, averaging about $107 per month. But in both settings, these earnings are not enough to provide for a family’s basic needs.

About 82 percent of the people in this region are Muslim, and 10 percent are Protestant Christians. They speak a variety of languages, including Indonesian, Kutai and Banjar.

East Kalimantan is rich with natural resources. Since the 1970s when Indonesia opened its mineral and natural resources for foreign investment, there has been a boom in East Kalimantan in the mining, forestry and petroleum industries.

However, illegal logging has been a problem and has destroyed a large portion of the rainforest. In some locations in East Kalimantan, less than half of the original rainforest remains.


Culture Corner

(Roasted Chicken)

Try this flavor-packed dish, popular in East Kalimantan.


½ tsp. chili powder
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 chicken, cut into 4 pieces
Salt and pepper
Cincane sauce (see below)


Mix chili powder and garlic, rub onto chicken. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Brown chicken in frying pan, then roast in oven at 350 degrees until done (30-45 minutes).

Serve with cincane sauce and rice.


>2 tbsp. oil for frying
5 shallot cloves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
10 red chilies, chopped
¾-inch ginger root, chopped
¾-inch galangal root, chopped*
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. shrimp paste*
2 tsp. sugar
2 curry leaves*
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup chicken stock

In pan, cook first seven ingredients 3-5 minutes on low heat.

Puree in a blender. Return to pot, add shrimp paste, sugar, curry leaves, coconut milk, and chicken stock. Cook until sauce thickens.

* Available at Asian markets.

Life in Kalimantan

East Kalimantan, located on the island of Borneo, is the second-largest of Indonesia’s 33 provinces. Here, Compassion ministers to children through church-based child development centers in the city of Samarinda and the surrounding rural areas.

In the rural areas, people are primarily of Dayak and Kutai ethnicity, and they make a meager living by cultivating rice and rubber trees, or by working on larger plantations or in mines. Samarinda has more job opportunities in different industries, but for unskilled laborers, wages are still not sufficient to support a family.

Homes of impoverished families in the city are made of whatever materials can be found. In the rural areas, typical homes are long wooden structures on stilts. In both locations, homes accommodate many members of the extended family.

Children at Home

Many rural families in East Kalimantan live in traditional homes called lamins. A lamin is a single wood structure where multiple families live together. Four to 10 families live in a single lamin. In the city of Samarinda, poor families live in structures made from a variety of materials, from cement blocks to metal sheeting. As in rural homes, typically, several members of an extended family live together.


Community Issues and Concerns east indonesia kalimantan community

In addition to poverty, children in this region commonly suffer from respiratory ailments, malaria and dengue fever. Most rural families live along the banks of the large Mahakam River, prime breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes. They also use unclean water from the river for drinking and cooking, which leads to such illnesses as typhoid and bacterial diarrhea — often deadly to young children. City dwellers, too, frequently suffer from these illnesses.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children from impoverished families in East Kalimantan face many daunting challenges. All too often they suffer from illnesses that are preventable because impoverished parents cannot afford to seek medical help when their children get sick. The public education in this province also is inadequate, with few qualified teachers and a lack of books and supplies.


Schools and Education east indonesia kalimantan education

Children in this region start kindergarten at age 6. About 77 percent of children in rural areas and 94 percent in the city go on to graduate from high school. However, the quality of education in the public schools is insufficient, and few teachers are fully qualified for the job. Sadly, in the rural schools, although children are required to wear uniforms, most cannot afford shoes and must attend classes barefoot.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At Compassion’s child development centers in East Kalimantan, children are receiving the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ. Along with nutritious meals for healthy physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy. Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion believes that God’s purposes on Earth are accomplished through the church – including His purpose of bringing justice and mercy to the world’s poor and oppressed. That’s why in East Indonesia, as in every country where Compassion’s ministry is found, our program is carried out through local churches.

Our partner churches in East Indonesia are on the front lines, reaching into their communities to serve impoverished children and families. After all, who better than the local church understands the real needs of the people in its community?

It is our privilege and blessing to work alongside these committed partner churches in East Indonesia, encouraging, empowering and equipping them to meet children’s needs, in Jesus’ name.

How Compassion Works in East Indonesia east indonesia kalimantan compassion in indonesia

Compassion’s work in East Indonesia began in 2005. Currently, more than 38,400 participate in 185 child development centers in eastern Indonesia.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide East Indonesia’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are an important link between Compassion and the individual church partners that implement our program. In East Indonesia, each Partnership Facilitator oversees several local churches that operate Compassion Child Development Centers.

Partnership Facilitators play a critical role in empowering local church partners to be the best they can be at meeting the needs of their communities’ children. Indonesians themselves, they understand the local reality of the churches they serve and are best able to represent the churches’ needs and challenges to the national Compassion office.

East Indonesia’s Partnership Facilitators are a team of workers selflessly dedicated to their demanding jobs. And they have a passion for seeing their country’s children in need released from poverty.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for strength and wisdom for the child development staff members, as they strive to serve children in need in East Kalimantan.
  • Pray for the protection of the children’s health from malaria, dengue fever and illnesses caused by contaminated water.
  • Pray for the safety of the children and their families during times when the river floods.
  • Pray for the parents and caregivers of Compassion-assisted children, who face unemployment or underemployment.