JAKARTA – Who’d have thought that inside a plain alley lives a herb doctor who’s been practicing for three generations? If you want proof, try visiting Asmana’s house at Gang Sawo RT 002/001 (Neighborhood Unit 002, Community Unit 001) in Duren Tiga Urban Village, Pancoran Subdistrict, South Jakarta.
The 88-year-old woman got her abilities to concoct herbal remedies via a long-standing tradition, which began with her grandma and continued with her dad. “At first, I would watch Grandma work on her blends, where she told me what they’re made of and how to mix them. When patients came, I helped with mashing the plants. Some of these pastes you drink straight away, while others you rub on the hurt area,” said Asmana at her home Monday (9/4).
Her family’s homemade meds have healed a wide range of diseases, from seasonal flu to more severe kinds like tumors. It’s hardly surprising that Asmana herself has gained some fame, her services sought by natives and non-natives taking alternative medications.
Asmana applies her remedies in two ways: boreh and cekok. Boreh requires smearing mashed medicinal herbs on the injured part of the body, while cekok requires drinking the herbs with water. The herbalist does not set a price for her services — she holds a belief that healing is not her own doing, but “a blessing and power only owned by God Almighty”.
She retrieves her ingredients from nearby yards in what is dubbed the first herbal (sub)village in South Jakarta. Once a customer arrives, Asmana gets to work immediately, picking up fresh leaves as needed and pounding them with a generations-old mortar and pestle.
Gang Sawo (Sawo Alley) is well-acclaimed as a medicinal plant hub in Pancoran. Its vast plant collection has drawn appreciation and won awards from public and private institutions for its benefits to local communities.
Photo: Ujang (left) and Abdillah (right) tending to the plants in Herbal (Sub)village
“There’s not much vegetation left here in Jakarta, so these plants really help our place look fresh and green. They are also easily accessible due to high demand,” said Abdillah, the head of Herbal Plant Farming Group from Gang Sawo RT 002/001.
It was the locals’ idea to transform Sawo Alley into Herbal (Sub)village, which Korindo Group supported. In 2021, its Foundation showed this support through plant donations, where hundreds of herbal saplings were delivered alongside fertilizer and supplementary infrastructure for maintenance.
“Because of Korindo Group, now we have this village [Herbal Subvillage] whose benefits we, including Asmana, can all reap. I thank the company for making our neighborhood greener. Korindo has brought us positive things,” said Ujang, RT 002 (Neighborhood Unit 002) chief.
Korindo Group is committed to creating programs that are good for all. One of them, the Herbal (Sub)village, is helping communities and especially Pancoran Subdistrict gain food and health independence. Through Corporate Social Contribution (CSC), the company pledges to take actions that bring prosperity to and support the society. (PR)