If you happen to ride into Malang by train, you probably will be surprised as an extraordinary village compound right before the city center gets into your view. In contrast to the hundreds of thousands other villages in Indonesia which all look quite the same, there is something that makes Jodipan and Tridi superior. Not long ago, both villages have transformed from scruffy neighborhoods infamous for environmental issues and poverty into a tourist hotspot. Blessed with a colorful charm, the compound deserves now nationwide attention. It all started with a glorious idea from 8 students from the Department of Communication Studies of Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang. To fulfill their study requirements, they have been creating a project to upgrade a slum village into a Kampung Warna-Warni – a ‘colourful village’. They reached out to Indana Paint, a paint company in Malang, who agreed to fund the project as their Corporate Social Responsibility Programme. Jodipan was first to go through the makeover, their neighbors from Tridi followed shortly after in August 2016.

Walking through the narrow alleys is like diving into a rainbow. Every house along the small lanes functions as an art wall for murals and graffitis (mostly 3D), a showcase for the creativity of local street artists and artist communities It’s no secret that Asians love selfies – consequently, a stroll through the village will take a good while. For some visitors, it might be a bit awkward to stop in front of people’s houses overlooking their kitchen. Hence, the lack of privacy might be a future issue the locals couldn’t foresee back then. However, the villagers I have been talking to assured me that they wouldn’t feel bothered. Kids went even further and proudly showed me their living room. Meantime, I remain curious about the aftermath, as I’m not sure if grandpa really likes it if tourists observe him watching tv in his undies.

Before, the entire village was a “Kampung Kumuh –a dirty village“, remembers Murny, a local living in Tridi. Although, since I’ve seen a good part of Indonesia, their past is comparable with the current stage of most villages throughout the country. „It was difficult to earn money“, Murny continues, „now the money is coming to us“. The residents of Jodipan and Tridi have now the opportunity to increase their livelihood by offering souvenirs, paintings, and delicious food. People living in Tridi were forced to witness the ongoing upgrade of Jodipan on the other side of the river bank, prudently they’ve sent out a request for sponsorship to the local paint company. „And they sponsored us“, Murny tells me, flashing a smile.

Until the renewal, household litter was flooding the river which cuts through the two villages, but now proper waste management for both communities is funded with the revenue from ticket sales. Furthermore, salaries increased and prosperity raised. I observe kids playing happily in colorful alleys, as the parents established their new working space right next to them.

Overlooking the other side of the bridge, one can just imagine how Jodipan and Tridi must have looked like before the rebirth as ‚Kampung Warna-Warni’.