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!