Kartini and her daughters wait for the call to leave for Central Kalimantan as transmigrants. (JP/Agnes Winarti)

Kartini is counting the days left before her family leaves their modest home, one of many along an alley in the densely populated Semper Barat, North Jakarta, for a transmigration camp in Kalimantan.

As the date to send Jakartans off to transmigration camps in remote areas in South and Central Kalimantan provinces approaches, the successful applicants wait anxiously to be called.

“Lately, I have been sleeping restlessly, every night, wondering when we will be sent off,” Kartini, 40, a mother of three girls, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

She said her nervousness and anxiety began shortly after her husband, Suharto, 42, applied to join the program which will take urban sprawl to Central Kalimantan, in early November.

“For everyday meals, we are now counting on the money we get from selling the things left in the house that we cannot take anyway to the transmigration site,” she said.

The couple have sold their gas stove, refrigerator, washing machine and water dispenser, as well as their small brick-house, for a total of Rp 13 million to see them through until it comes time to leave.

“A neighbor has paid for that TV,” Kartini said, pointing to the TV being watched by her teenage daughter Elvira, adding that she had packed clothes, pots-and-pans, as well as the children’s books into sacks, ready to leave.

Suharto has been unemployed since he lost his job as payment collector for the state-owned power company PT PLN last year.

Kartini used to work in a garment factory. “Factories these days prefer workers in their 20s. It’s getting harder for me to find a job.”

Kartini and her family aren’t the only soon-to-be transmigrants feeling anxious.

“I have been going back and forth to the North Jakarta transmigration office asking for a departure date,” Acim, 49, of Tugu Utara, North Jakarta, said. Mid December is the most definite answer he has received so far.

Acim, who has been living in Jakarta for the past 30 years, currently in a rented house, first applied to be a transmigrant in 2002.

He was inspired by the success story of a relative who transmigrated to Jambi in 1984.

“In 2001, she came back for a visit and told me that she and her family were living proof that transmigrants can be successful.”

From then on, he has been applying and reapplying to become a transmigrant almost every year.

“I sold my becak last week because I want to be ready for the departure,” Acim, who will take his wife and five children with him to a transmigration site in Central Kalimantan, said.

When not working as a becak (three-wheeled pedicab) driver he finds employment as a construction worker. When asked whether he was ready to become a farmer, Acim said that he had once planted cassava and peanuts in a vacant soil.

“I learnt farming from my foster parent, Pak Emong,” he said, referring to 69-year-old Emong Jawi, who despite his age, is in high spirits about transmigrating.

“I have no one else here. But at the transmigration site insyaallah (by God’s will) I can be useful and share my knowledge of farming despite my physical limitations,” Emong said.

Kartini, who acknowledges that she does not have any farming experience, said, “I could not sew before, but now I can because I taught myself how.”

“As long as I have the determination, I am sure I can also learn how to farm.”

According to Saut Tambunan, head of North Jakarta’s Manpower and Transmigration office, there will be six applicants from his municipality sent to transmigration villages in Central and South Kalimantan on Dec. 12.

His office received a total of 43 transmigration applications this year, six of them were sent to Bengkulu in July. The Jakarta Post