Here is How Boxing Saves People with HIV in Indonesia

Here is How Boxing Saves People with HIV in Indonesia
© Our Better World

There is a house in Bandung, not far from Daarut Tauhid, one of the biggest Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia, where boxing saves lives of people living with HIV every day. 

Founded by five people with HIV and history of drug abuse in 2003, this house aims to support people living with HIV, engage their members and wider community to come together and break stigma through sport.

Ginan Koesmayadi, Co-Founder Rumah Cemara, which had been living with HIV for almost 16 years, shared his inspiration to start this community to Our Better World, a storytelling initiative of the Singapore International Foundation, that people like him were still stigmatized because there’s a lack of information about HIV in Indonesia. Meanwhile, more than 600,000 people are living with HIV in Indonesia, according to UNAIDS. 

Rumah Cemara. Image: Our Better World
Ginan Koesmayadi, Rumah Cemara. Image: Our Better World


“I feel sad when all my tableware is separated from others. I am hurt. More so when you know that the stigma is coming from people very close to you, like your friends and family,” said Koesmayadi.

The boxing gym is one of Rumah Cemara’s ways of helping people like Koemayadi, those with HIV/AIDS or drug addiction, by keeping them fit through sports, providing a space for community and giving them a chance to demonstrate what they can do for their communities.

Rumah Cemara. Image: Our Better World
Rumah Cemara. Image: Our Better World


Dimas Bayu, one of the boxer in Rumah Cemara said to Our Better World, the first time coming there, he couldn’t help to feel afraid of the people with HIV. Today, he understands and helps to break stigma and discrimination. “There’s nothing to worry about because they’re just like us.”

He also praised how Koesmayadi and Rumah Cemara helped him found himself through boxing. “Here, I learnt boxing from Ginan [Koesmayadi]. I learnt how to motivate myself when I’m feeling down, also from Ginan. I’m here today, on this level, because of him.”

Today the house is growing with more members and the need for bigger space. Jimmy, head of sport development for the house, confessed with a smile, “That pavilion used to be a hen house.”

The house and its residents live in harmony with the local communities, who are mostly students and teachers from the Islamic boarding school.  

"We invited the ustadz (teacher) of the boarding school, and he came to give us his blessing," said Jimmy.




A story by Our Better World – telling stories of good to inspire action


Indah Gilang Pusparani

Indah is a researcher at Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Kota Cirebon (Regional Development Planning and Research Agency of Cirebon Municipality). She covers More international relations, tourism, and startups in Southeast Asia region and beyond. Indah graduated from MSc Development Administration and Planning from University College London, United Kingdom in 2015. She finished bachelor degree from International Relations from University of Indonesia in 2014, with two exchange programs in Political Science at National University of Singapore and New Media in Journalism at Ball State University, USA. She was awarded Diplomacy Award at Harvard World Model United Nations and named as Indonesian Gifted Researcher by Australian National University. She is Researcher at Regional Planning Board in Cirebon, West Java. She previously worked as Editor in Bening Communication, the Commonwealth Parliament Association UK, and diplomacy consulting firm Best Delegate LLC in USA. Less
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