IDR5 million (US$348) was up for grabs when 32 gravediggers from Bogor Regency, West Java came together in celebration of the pandemic's unsung heroes.
On Tuesday, the Bogor Regency Administration held a grave-digging contest, calling on the region's finest shovelers to vie for the ultimate prize money.
"We want to raise [the gravediggers'] dignity, and Madam Regent [Ade Yasin] wanted to show her appreciation for them," Bogor Regency Housing, Settlement, and Zoning Agency Head Ajat Rochmat Jatnika said, noting that the gravediggers had especially worked hard burying COVID-19 victims over the last couple of years.
"Imagine, at the peak of COVID-19, the gravediggers buried up to 50 people per day. They carried out their work at any time despite knowing the risks," Bogor Regent Ade Yasin said.
Eight cemeteries from Bogor Regency each sent a team of four, including a team from Pondok Rajeg Cemetery, who dug in their home turf. The teams were judged on their digging speed, tidiness, and adherence to standard grave dimensions.
But it was the quartet from Tajur Halang Cemetery that took home the IDR5 million prize. The administration also handed out packages to all participants containing basic necessities and groceries.
One gravedigger from Jonggol Cemetery, which came second overall, said he has worked the job for 16 years.
"Praise God I still have the strength to work to this day. I hope to be able to always help people and that I remain healthy. Thank you to the Bogor regent for the attention, appreciation, and motivation for us," he said.