Sunday, August 19, 2007

Christal's Trip - Aug 2007 - Part III (Malang)

To see more photos of Malang click here

After leaving Kalimantan we flew back to Malang in West Java, where the Richardsons live.

On the 2hr drive to Malang from the Surabaya airport, we passed where the mud volcano has been spewing mud for the past year. Villages have been covered. When you hit that area all the people from the village swarm the cars trying to sell things, including guides through the mud - shortcuts so that you don't have to sit in the traffic that's caused because of the situation.

Paul Richardson had been the principal of an international school (mostly children of expatriates) here. When the international school had to move to a larger location he felt God's call to stay behind and create a school for the children he drove by everyday, who had no chance of going to school. He began the process to establish Charis.

Part of the vision that Paul has is to build schools like this all over the country. They currently have around 25 'projects' underway that include schools and children's homes.

The view from the top of that white's really nice. They're thinking about plans for a university perhaps in the future, and that land in the back with a lake in the middle would be nice.

There is a lot still under construction. This land was purchased for a permanent teacher-training centre to be built.

Charis is being developed as the 'model' to replicate across the country. They serve kids from kindergarten up to senior high. They train the teachers who are local people. At Charis the language of instruction is Indonesian, but they also have 'English Hour' every week where classes are in English for 1-2 hours.

I happened to be there at a time when a team from Philadelphia had come to conduct a teacher-training conference. This conference was opened up to local government-school teachers; offered free of charge.

The response that they get from the local community is great. They get numerous calls and requests from all over to conduct training for teachers.

It is a Christian school, meaning that everything is based on biblical principles. All the teachers are Christian but the students come from different backgrounds. Indonesia is the largest Moslem nation. Although we went to church on Sundays quite easily, it is still risky. In another part of the country a group of about 50, from the Indonesian arm of Campus for Christ, were arrested. It was apparently just a string of unfortunate mistakes. The story I heard was that during a skit showing how not to behave, they had someone stamping on a copy of the Koran...? It was videotaped and the tape was accidently left in the recorder. Someone saw the tape and it went from there...

Another group we heard about are being held in prison. The people in their community are calling for the death sentence, even though the supposed maximum penalty they can be dealt is 5 years.

Another visit I was able to make while in Malang was to the poor area - Polehan. It is known as the 'black' neighborhood because of the poverty and crime associated with it. People from Polehan cannot get loans from banks; many of the people collect garbage or perhaps drive a 'becak' - a rickshaw-bike for a living.

Charis supports an after-school program there. It is a relatively young project, off to a good start but they are working on refining the vision for the centre. At the moment their focus and skills lie in education, but in this environment there are so many additional needs it's difficult to know where to draw the line.

We visited some of the families there. It was the first time I really met people who were living in such poverty. It was the kind of situation where you can't help wincing inside a little when you shake hands because you can feel how dirty everything is. But at the same time, in each home we visited we were welcomed so warmly with smiles.

This family is one of only two Christian families. We sat for a while as this mother shared some of the things that have been bothering her. She has 5 kids and the oldest is just starting 1st grade - she's afraid she doesn't have the money to keep sending her (all schools require tuition). The whole family also sleeps in that room beside the door - maybe 5x6 feet - because she's afraid the roof will collapse at any moment from the old rotting wood. You could see she was so appreciative to have us, but at the same time embaressed. She kept saying to Wennie 'I wish you had told me you were coming...'

Other Random Pictures ...

The Richardson's cat, Peanut. There are lots of stray cats in Malang. I'm used to cats being pretty quiet, but these cats are really loud. The first night I heard it 'meow' I had no idea what it was...the next day I realized it had been the cat...they're very loud...

A couple of the girls who work with Mustard Seed in Malang started to get to know some of their neighbors. One Sunday we joined a small group of them to play volleyball. I thought we were going to find some random open space somewhere, but after walking through some back alleys we ended up at this makeshift gym. Brick on the lower half, then the top was finished with woven panels and flags on the inside.

It was the most painful volleyball I had ever played with. I was ready to stop after the first few hits, but I guess these women are used to it...I felt like such a wimp when we finally told them we had to stop...

Christal's Trip - Aug 2007 - Part II (Kalimantan)

Kalimantan (Borneo)

For more photos of Kalimantan visit:
Kalimantan 1

Kalimantan 2

Kalimantan 3

I went with Paul and Faythe (a retired couple in their 70s who have been living between Indonesia and America for the past few years);

Leela (who will be living in Malang for the next year);

and Juliana (also new to the MSI team in Malang, she is Indonesian but can speak English and unfortunately for her had to translate all the time)

Pastor Rudy moved to the area 9 years ago to help the communities - building wells, schools, and working to find sustainable ways for the people to make a living, as well as preaching the gospel and building churches like the one in the picture. When he started out - before they got the speedboat to be able to travel up the river, he used to ride his bicycle for kilometers to reach the communities.He lives with his family in a very basic house that I’ve been told has already been very well improved since a few years ago. He has many people that stay in his house in addition to his family. e.g. Hendro – about 14 years old – left his family from another village to be able to attend school.

A dorm is under construction so that more boys like Hendro will be able to attend school.

Indonesia in general has a morning culture. On Sundays at 7 or 8am you can go out and see communities out for their morning 'health walk'. People apparently start making social calls by 6am. Our first morning staying at Pastor Rudy's we woke up to singing in Indonesian at 4am - it was actually a really nice way to wake up. Every morning they have worship and bible study so we joined them for it while we were there. It was kind of nice being up that early, but probably something I would only keep up if I were living there...

We were swarmed by the children when we first arrived.

The docks were planks of very old wood...with many gaps.

At the edge of the docks you can see people bathing and washing clothes. The river is their source of water, but unfortunately also where they dump...everything. The box behind the woman on the left is a toilet.

There are river communities all along the Kapuas River; we visited a few in the three days we were there. Each time we were welcomed into peoples' homes and sat around on the floor - there was rarely furniture - drinking tea...made from the water from the river possibly? if there wasn't yet a well there...

At one man's house we got some very good pineapple. It was so sweet but also very light...

They gave us some pineapple to take back as well as jack fruit.

This is one of the wells Pastor Rudy has helped a village with. The clear water coming out is much better than the well at Pastor Rudy's own house. At the moment his well is not deep enough.

The washroom: squat toilet and the shower - the hose hanging on the right.

We tried to avoid taking a shower since Faythe had told us the last time she had come you got out feeling itchy all over and dirtier than when you first went in (again the importance of getting a well). Juliana had also had an experience in a similar area where she broke out in a rash after showering.

On the second day we came back and found Faythe had showered and had no problem.

We all showered.

After sweating all day, playing volleyball, and being splashed in the boat on the river it felt so good to shower. Despite being outside, with a bug crawling up the 'wall', and the water trickling out slowly...

Pastor Rudy's three girls (the tall girl in the middle is a friend). I realized that it was no little thing for him to decide to move there. He grew up in another city, and went to university in Jakarta (Indonesia's capital) so he was used to living with all the conveniences and comforts in a big city. He moved around the time he got married; he and his wife were choosing to not only live in these conditions, but also to raise their children there.

Our first meal at their house. Home-grown rice.

The school they are developing is right outside their house. We got to teach a few English classes while we were there. There are still a lot of improvements needed but it has come a long way in the past few years when there was originally nothing.

There aren't enough textbooks, and there are very limited supplies. With the senior class we brought some cardstock and stickers. When we were preparing the lesson the night before I was thinking that it would be a little childish for them - but then I realized the next day that these kids rarely, if ever, get to see or use these materials.

After we left Pulau Kaladan we spent one night in Banjabaru at the guesthouse on the campus of another school site.

When we arrived we went straight up to the washrooms. It was so good. We got to wash our hands after using the toilet!! craziness...

More random pictures ...

Seeing us off as we left one of the villages

Pastor Rudy's little one: Gloria. She's so cute. 2 years old but she acts like a 4-year-old.

Our happy boatman. Also moved here from another city, he lives with Pastor Rudy as well.

The sign at one of the little piers. I'm guessing it's telling you how to dock your boat...

Mitra's math class. She also moved here from another city.

The houses down the side of the river.

What the gas stations look like.

Typical view from the boat along the main river.

We also went down the narrow side rivers in a little motor boat.

Remembering my Trip in 2005

Seeds of Hope orphanage in Bali.

I could feel the joy at the Seeds of Hope orphanage well up in me just looking at Christal’spictures. Thanks for the memories Christal!

Two years ago I had a zillion questions as we approached the Seeds of Hope orphanage on the Indonesian island of Bali. How do one couple feed and care for 75+ children every day? Oh, my guide said, the children do all the cooking. Hummm doesn’t sound quite right I thought. Turns out Ibu Sandra had a stroke and was unable to do the heavy work so they developed a roster of the older children to prepare the meals under her direction. Humm, I wasn’t impressed. Then trying to get my head around the cost to keep it all going I was told how the children learned the Balinese dances and performed for tourists at local hotels. Yikes, I didn’t like what I was hearing.

When I arrived, the children greeted us warmly and I could feel their excitement. There was Ibu Sandra with her quad-cane and a big smile on her face. She told me her recovery from a stroke had brought her from being immobilized to walking with a cane and she was so happy. The stroke she suffered gave her more time to be still and to talk with her children.
Then I met Julia who was in charge of dinner that day. A meal plan had been prepared and two young women were at work preparing the vegetables. How do you know how much rice to cook I asked, “ten kilo a day”, she answered. These young teenagers already knew what it took to cook for 75 plus guests! And they were having fun doing it.

Suddenly were called together. Before us were the children, now transformed by traditional costumes looking so poised and confident. The dances began. The young boys performed their première Sword Dance and at the end the crowd roared! Especially the older “brothers”. You wouldn’t believe the support they poured out. It totally amazed me how ordinary bare foot little kids were transformed into skilful dancers.

As a couple of teenagers zoomed down the driveway on motorbikes, Pak Tommy told me he wanted the children to grow up with love and confidence. He showed me pictures of all his “grown up” children telling me of their academic and employment successes.

I learned later that Pak Tommy’s father had given his land for the orphanage and an adjacent piece had been sold years ago but still lay vacant. It is Tommy’s dream to buy that land back and build a school on it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Christal's Trip - Aug 2007 - Part I (Bali)

A little background about Christal and this trip:
I recently graduated from university, and before starting work in September I decided to make a trip to Indonesia.
I had heard about Mustard Seed from a friend in Toronto. After reading more and meeting with Lucie I decided that I wanted to find out more about their work on the ground. That’s what this trip was for me. A chance to find out more; to see if it was something I wanted to get involved in perhaps?

It was two weeks in July/August 2007. I won’t tell you everything since that would be too much but here’s a summary with pictures…

Some things I saw and did

For more photos of Bali click here


We visited Seeds of Hope – an orphanage supported by MSI. Even though we only spent half a day there it was as if it had been much longer. The kids were great. They were so full of life.

Ibu Sandra and Pak Tommy are really wonderful. They look after around 75 kids at the orphanage. They just calmly watch the children. They don’t have to shout at them or chase them around. At the end of the day Pak Tommy was making announcements. He was telling the kids not to fly kites on the rooftops, and it is the older kids who are responsible for stopping the younger ones if they see them.

You can tell that the kids know that they’re loved and taken care of, and that’s why they’re so free to laugh and have a good time.

The kids prepared dinner – they all know what their responsibilities are. It was really nice to see the older ones looking after the younger ones.

When we first arrived some of the kids were randomly banging on the xylophones (I’m not sure what exactly they were, but something like xylophones) and it sounded like a lot of noise. So I wasn’t prepared for it when they did a performance for us before dinner. They were really good.

After dinner we stayed for their ‘service’ - a worship and bible study time. A young man who used to live there led the bible study. He graduated from school and is now working as an engineer. The kids are taken care of right up until college and they’re able to find work.

They really appreciate school. Some of them are waiting to receive sponsorship to go to college, and when they find out that they can they’re so excited.

It really was one big family.