Monday, August 14, 2006

Nam Jai - Indonesia 2006

Yogyakarta - part 2

So much has happened since my last post. After two days of resting and buying things for Banjardadap an the Funday at Asy Syifa, we went back to Banjardadap on Friday. We delivered:
* Books for all classes, to be shared by two students
* a globe
* a map of Indonesia and of Java
* presents for the teachers

The uniforms are ordered and will be delivered in a weeks time. We talked with the head of the school and some of the teachers about their plans for the future. We even discussed the Dutch schoolsystem, about which they were very curious and enthousiastic. For Michael's colleagues that wish to spread the gospel of OGO (development based education) please know you are welcome in Indonesia!

Erita (the newest Flowgi Indonesia volunteer) advised us to visit Ibu Sriutami of Combongan kindergarten. One of the children in her school had passed away and two children lost their parents. When we arrived they were already waiting for us - we were late, because we were stuck in traffic in a tiny little street overcrowded with motorbikes, cars, trucks, horse and wagon, becaks, bicycles all headed to the fridaymarket. They children sang a full repertoire of songs and greeted us shyly. Afterwards we briefly spoke with Ibu Sriutami who asked us to help rebuild the school building, a request we can not fullfill. Instead we asked here to name ten other things she needs for her school. We immediatly knew we wanted to help there, so we agreed to arrange for schooluniforms (two sets), shoes, noteblocks, a bed, a writing board and some everyday school utilities.

In the afternoon we visited the orphanage Mardi Siwi once more. We brought books, magazines, a volleyball net and ball and some sweets and a frame with all the pictures we had taken earlier that week. The boys had a hard time setting up the net - for it entailed digging two deep holes in hard and dry soil - but it was worth it: a great game was played. When we leave, one of the boys says: "God bless you!". Teary-eyed we drive off.

It is great to be able to all this here, but it hurts not to able to do more.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Nam Jai - Indonesia 2006

Yogyakarta - part 1

Sunday we left Bandung for Yogyakarta. After the (still impressive) six hour trainride, I am back in the city where I really learned to speak Indonesian. It is still as beautiful as I remember. We take a taxi to the touristy Prawirotaman area, where we end up staying at Clouseau's Ludo Wouters' Prambanan Guesthouse. After a plunge in the pool, we meet up with our friends from FLOWGI; Tri, Agus and Fai. We briefly discuss our plans for the week and agree to meet monday morning at nine.

A walk through the neighborhood quickly shows the damage here. Many houses have collapsed, tents provide shelter, while the rubble still lies on the sidewalk. On monday we visit three schools in Bantul; the first one is Banjardadap. It has 22 kids in kindergarten, 92 students and 13 teachers. Both the teachers and the children greet us enthousiastically. They still have good memories of Flowgi's visit earlier this year. The Director explains how difficult it is for her to manage the school. The building is still standing, but will be demolished after all usefull materials have been removed. All lessons are held in tents donated by the government (they were given to Indonesia by the Japanese government).

The second school is in an equal state. Tents serve as classrooms; they wait for funds to renovate the building. The third school has no building left; temporary classrooms made of wood and aluminum have been donated by an Islamic institution from Saudi Arabia. Here, they mostly need books for the second semester and shoes. All three schools are waiting for help from the government; none has arrived, besides the army clean-up team that came only one day.

It was very impressive to see, difficult as well as we know we cannot help all the schools with our small donation. On tuesday morning we discuss exact plan for the rest of the week. We decide to donate most of the funds to the Banjardadap school, where the children need schoolbooks and uniforms. With our (and your!) contribution we can buy books for all courses which the children will have to share. Besides they will all get the batik unform they wear on Friday and Saturday. Furthermore, we will buy toys for the kids of a kindergarten (Taman Kanak-kanak or TK) volunteer Erita has told us about. The TK is in her hometown (village I should say) and the 28 kids have nothing there. We will go there on saturday. On sunday we will organise a 'funday', of course together with our Flowgi friends at the second school we visited, SD Asiffa.

After a (very Indonesian) meeting at Tri's house, we went to visit the two orphanages, Ghifari and Mardi Siwi. Ghifari is located in a small village near the Merapi, a small dark building holding some 20 kids. To help the orphanage with an income, Flowgi has donated four cows, which have been named after the flowgi board. Kees, Ronald and Tuty are well taken care of.

Mardi Siwi is home to 35 children, most in their teens. When we arrive, they are all gathered - a horn honks. They introduce themselves and answer Michael's question - What do you want to be when you grow up? - one by one. Most of them want to become docters, nurses or teachers. One girl wants to be a stewardess and a twelve-year old boy says he wants to become a professor, "So I can invent new things which can help develop my country". Thus, an ambitious bunch. The stewardess-to-be admires my white skin, saying her dark skin is ugly. It is a cliche, but I tell her that she is pretty just the way she is. Hopefully she will remember this in the future...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Nam Jai - Indonesia 2006

So much has happened in the week we have now already spent in Indonesia. First in Jakarta, while catching up with my friend Martijn, he tells us how people in Jakarta send around panicky text messages, warnings for earthquakes and tsunami's. The story goes that Jakarta will be hit in November, a prediction not even the best scientist can make. Despite the fact that the last quakes caused no severe damage or casualties in Jakarta, they made an impact. It is like the feeling you get if you get up too quickly after drinking a few glasses of beer, I'm told.

From Jakarta we head on towards Bandung, where we stay with my family in Cimahi. Wonderful days we had together...
Sent on a mission by Ronald, we set out to find an orphanage in Cimahi or Bandung. It should be a preliminary research, a mapping exercise enabling Flowgi to look into the possibility of also providing help there. My niece takes us to a Panti Asuhan in Bandung, which she visits often. It is well-organised and maintained there. The children lie in beds more fancy than most Indonesian families can afford. The good work of the Director - Pak Yanto - is obviously appreciated by the donating community. After briefly explaining the intent of our visit, we are invited to come back on saturday when the Directors of all panti's in Bandung gather for their monthly meeting.

With a large delegation (my family comes along) we arrive to the meeting qith the intention to briefly meet with people from the panti's that really need assistance. To my surprise (and shock!) I am invited to join the Director (Chairman of this meeting) at the speakers table. My speech is brief, my Indonesian not too bad. I state as clearly as possible that I only came to get an idea of the setting, but say they could write their needs down. The response is enthousiastic; it seems like all panti's want to file proposals with Flowgi. Despite my explanation that I am only affiliated with Flowgi as a volunteer, some seem to think I am in charge (Sorry Ron and Kees!). All in all an interesting experience. Flowgi, look out for those proposals! (Sorry about that too!).

Indonesia - the senses overload

The heat; embracing, damp, sticky. The noise; cars honking, motorcicles screaming, the eardrums overload. The smell; sweet and sour, clove mixes gently with fumes, with fried rice and trash. The musquitos suck me dry, take advantage of my 'deet' free naivite. It is all part of this ever repeating homecoming ceremony; this experience of the senses.

Melancholy overcomes me for my fair skin will never be dark like theirs. Never will I go unnoticed. Never will I fit in. But my feet is in between the door and I intend to keep it there!
After a few days, my language skills rise to the surface. I can survive here...

Betah is the word they use here. At home, at ease. In all its weirdness, this country thrills me, gets under my skin.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Nam Jai - Indonesia

Since our visit to Thailand last year, we have been thinking about continuing the flow of Nam Jai. We decided to raise funds for a school or orphanage in Indonesia. Just as we were preparing our trip, Indonesia was hit by another disaster; the earthquake in Yogyakarta. It was clear to us that we would adjust our plans and go there.

Now, a few months later, we are in Bandung, on our way to Yogya. We have been in touch with a Dutch association Flowgi, whom have already done great things both in Yogya and elsewhere in Indonesia. They have established several orphanages and work with small projects helping children. Both Kees and Ron from Flowgi have helped us prepare for our visit to Yogya and have provided us with the contact details of the volunteers (all students).

We have collected some two-thousand euros; thanks to everyone who has supported us. Your money is in good hands. Of course we will keep you updated on both the blogs!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Nam Jai - Thailand update

On February 28, 2006 we received this update on the Batik Project we had partially funded.
Our gratitude goes out to everyone who supported us!

In mid-2005, a livelihood project was identified by “We Love Thailand” in Baan Bang Kaya community in Phang Nga province which was in need of funding. At that time, a group of local villagers had set up production of Batik products in temporary facilities. The Batik project was looking for funding to construct a new, permanent building nearby and to purchase equipment and supplies to expand their production. Total cost of the project was estimated to be approximately 200,000 baht. With this support, the project would be able to construct new facilities (their temporary facilities needed to be returned to the community as soon as possible) and increase the quality and amount of their products. This would all subsequently improve the quality of life for the families of those who work in the shop.

In September 2005, “We Love Thailand” received a donation of 100,000 baht (approx. 2,000 Euros) from a school in The Netherlands to be used to fund the Batik livelihood project (which is a freedom project under the “Seed of Love” program within “We Love Thailand”). Construction began on the new building shortly after the funding was received. This new building was built just opposite from the previous, temporary building. In addition to construction of the new facilities, funds were also used to purchase equipment and other necessary supplies to improve and increase production.Villagers were able to begin working in the new building in October 2005. There are currently 15 – 20 people who have been trained and are working regularly at the project. Since beginning work in the new facilities, the project has seen great success. The products are selling very well. Regular customers include businesses, resorts, and individuals in Phang Nga and Krabi provinces in the south, as well as Bangkok.

Nam Jai - Water of the heart

The December 2004 Tsunami in Asia has shocked the world. No different from many others, we wanted to contribute with more than a small donation to the account of big NGO's. Thus, we started ‘Nam Jai’, an initiative to collect funds for small-scale projects primarily aimed at children.

Literally Nam Jai means ‘water from the heart’. It stands for sincere kindness and helpfulness to others without expecting anything in return. We found this concept, which is very important in Thailand, to be a very suitable name for our initiative.

In summer 2005 we went to Thailand and visited Khao Lak, the region most damaged by the natural disaster. Earlier we had collected some 2000 euro's; at Taco and Michael's primary school (De Achthoek) with a fleemarket (see the report pasted below) and among family and friends. With the help of "We love Thailand", we were taken around the region. The fact that people were doing all they could to go on with their lives, gave hope and made up for the devastation that was all around. For children there was a lot of aid, too much actually. Some kids were provided will double funding. We decided to look beyond the scope of schools and chldcare. We were given the opportunity the help a woman who had lost her livelihood - she used to have a car rental agency. Now she employs 20 people making and selling batik cloths. We also visited a primary school where we handed out the schoolmaterials which were donated by a supplier of de Achthoek. Our small contribution was greatly appreciated.

For more pictures, visit:

Nam Jai - A bazaar for Asia

A bazaar for Asia - reported by Taco Stroo

I had never quite realised that people collect so many things… or actually I did, because I am quite the collector myself. Well, everything was more than welcome to be sold at our special bazaar/garage sale at primary school de Achthoek in Amsterdam.
It started with only one pair of ice-skates on Tuesday. Only after we had put out a flashy sign at the door, did the vaults open; bicycles, bags filled with teddy bears, necklaces, old clothes, yellowed books, CD’s, games, anything… it kept on coming in. Were we ever going to sell it all?!

It was a lot of work putting everything nicely together and spreading it out, but on Thursday night, we were calm: this was going to work out just fine! In class 7b the kids had thought out precisely what the market was going to look like, how to negotiate prices, catering and logistics. Also they pulled all the genies out of the bottles to complete the bazaar with music, dance performances, an auction, a lottery and an old fashioned ball-throwing stand, with a piece of apple pie for the winner.

The bazaar opened at noon and it was immediately crowded. Especially the kids from class 5a were enthusiastically making a lot of money selling their things. It was great to see how they were enjoying themselves and how they took their jobs very seriously. After an hour, we had already collected 400 euros! It was time to tidy up in preparation of the second round.

At 2pm it was time for that second round. And again it was crowded. It was lively and the atmosphere was good. People were slowly passing by the stalls and there was music and dancing. The children were absolute heroes! As if they had done so all of their lives, they drove the prices up. They would make an Indonesian salesman proud: “I give you good price, you my friend!”. In the centre of the hall beautiful objects were auctioned, after which the lottery started. “Ticket 100045. No one? Ticket 100046! No one? Ticket 100033?”. Vincent and Kwinti even played some acoustic songs, before people started leaving.

This was it. Everyone was satisfied and we were proud. This was a great bazaar for a good cause and together with the kids we collected over 1300 euros! Amazing!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Finally, my own space on the wonderous world called internet!
Before I share my most inner feelings and brilliant thoughts with you, I want to direct your attention to

the Nam Jai blog:


my personal photopage:

Soon there will be more to follow!