My name is Nikmah, I was appointed the Head of Public Governance Sub-Division in Belik Sub-District Office in February 2017 in Pemalang District, Central Java. Previously, I was an extension worker at the Family Planning Agency. The switch from advising clients about reproductive health to village governance was quite a shock to me.
It was nerve-racking and awkward, when village officials came to me with questions about Village Funds, administration reporting, and drafting village regulations. During the first three months I relied on one of my staff who had previous experience as a Village Secretary. Later in May, I got the chance to join the Village Governance Facilitator (Pembina Teknis Pemerintahan Desa / PTPD) basic training held by KOMPAK. This training was full of important information, but being a talkative and inquisitive person that I am, I kept communication with the trainer and asked questions via WhatsApp even long after the event.
With rest of the Public Governance Sub-Division team we tried to build a Village Governance Clinic, a place where villages can consult on various matters, with the help of the village facilitators in Belik. The more I interacted with facilitators, the more grateful I was for the new things I learned. By the second semester of the same year, I was already confident to mentor 12 village governments. I was quite surprised with myself, as not too long ago I was mostly hiding behind the team.
Increasingly, intense consultations at the Village Governance Clinic encouraged us to create a regular mentoring timetable to ensure better and equally distributed mentorship. The team allocates time for internal discussions to address unanswered questions, such as those related to the planning forum as well as drafting of the Village Government Work Plan (RKP Desa) and the quite-detailed Village Budget (APB Desa), to make sure that we are on the same page and to prepare ourselves for tackling similar issues in the future. We also involve the Community and Village Empowerment Agency or the Office for Management of Regional Revenue, Finance, and Assets of Pemalang District in the clinic if necessary, learning from the local officials while running the clinic.
I can say that I learned two important lessons from this process: first, never doubt yourself and do not be afraid to make mistakes when you learn. These attitudes will make it easier for us to gain knowledge and expertise. Second, it is okay not to understand everything. Seek help from those with more experience.