It hasn’t been too long since my self-declared hiatus, but I really want to post a photo.
Maybe I’ll post once a week, as a compromise. A little creativity per week is necessary, right? To keep a clear head…
This is a farm business that the Salvation Army runs near Palu, Sulawesi. It is shared by 75 farmers, who represent 75 families, and they plant, harvest, process, and benefit from the sale of the rice, corn, chocolate, and coffee that is grown on this farm. Pretty cool, and helps those who need help.
Those smiles are dangerous.
This is Dini. She and I met yesterday at the Jonooge Primary School near Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia. I spoke to her in my incredibly bad Bahasa Indonesia, and she stared at me. I spoke to her in my language, English, and she stared at me. I smiled and she stared at me. I walked away…and she followed me. We became friends yesterday. I don’t know what she thought I was, but she, to me, was innocence and beauty and everything worth protecting in the world.
This is Dini. My little friend.
There they are. Day 1 of the service trip to Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia, after we landed in the Palu airport. I am supervising, along with my Head of School and his wife, and the amazing Miss Erina, a group of twelve students from my school while they extend their hand to the people of Palu.
Our school has a week wherein all the students are supposed to be working in some sort of service. My students are in Palu, working in a Primary school, two childrens’ homes (not orphanages, because not all of the children are orphans – some live in the home because their parents can’t afford to keep them, but they still have parents), an “agro bisnis”, and a school of 2000 students. All of these places are run by the Salvation Army here in Palu.
I need to clarify one major point here: it is a service week, and my students are working here, but the week is really about exposing the students to a part of their world that is unfamiliar to them. In a very real sense, my students are aware that the world does not live as they do – they are well off, they attend a private international school, they have drivers and helpers – but many of them have never experienced the world that is not like theirs. So…we are offering them an opportunity to make a connection, a personal connection, with that world. Today they met the primary school children and my students were overwhelmed by these children and their love and generosity and attention and beauty and energy. As we debriefed the day, my students couldn’t help but gush about how the day went.
Tomorrow is day three, and it looks like this trip might be life-changing, and life-affirming.
The building you see behind them, by the way, is not the Palu airport. That is the future Palu airport. The current one rivals landing next to an auction house in which everyone smokes and people jockey for your luggage as soon as you have it in your hand. Good times.
I had a lovely date with my wife tonight. We went Christmas shopping. That has nothing to do with the photo. I’m just happy and felt like sharing.
I hope you like the photo.
I remember being this age. I thought I knew everything. I knew that I knew more than everyone else, at least. I felt like the world was waiting for me. My boys, my friends, were the only thing that was important to me.
Man…I knew nothing back then.
These girls, and the boy in the background, all attend a school that is run by the Bala Keselamatan (Salvation Army). They are a few of the more than 2000 students who attend the school in Palu, Sulawesi. It is a remarkable school, but what’s more remarkable are the students.
Beautiful, curious, enthusiastic, and energetic, their stories will inspire and break hearts. Many of them do not live with their parents. The reason? Their parents know that an education is important, but living in rural Palu with little means to a good education has left parents with one option – send their children to Palu to live and learn. Many of these children rarely see their parents.
They choose an education over family. That is a choice I’m glad I don’t have to make.
I never thought I’d miss the sky. I grew up in rural Saskatchewan, and I was never short of blue sky. Even in the winters, we’d have more hours of clear, cold blue sky than most people get in a really nice summer. When I moved to British Columbia, the Vancouver area, I gave up a lot of that blue sky. But when it wasn’t raining, the sky was blue. Azure. At times, almost sapphire.
Then I moved to Jakarta. There are moments when the sky is blue. Sometimes, when I’m outside swimming I can look up and see a little spot of blue, between the gray-brown-white-ish clouds. The geography of Jakarta lends itself to a sort of mixing bowl effect. When you add together the ingredients of twenty-some million people, millions of cars and motorcycles, a lack of good sanitation, and a low-lying city surrounded by hills, you get a nearly complete lack of blue sky.
When I visited Palu, there were kilometers in every direction of blue sky. Spectacular. Totally amazing. I miss blue sky.
A sunrise might be a bit of a cliche for this challenge, but it’s what I’ve got sitting in my files and is recent…about six days old. It’s the inlet at Palu, Sulawesi. I posted another sunrise photo earlier this week, but that was taken about fifteen minutes before this one.
Too sick to write…not to sick to post.
We’ll talk soon.
I’m sick, but beautiful sunrises always cheer me up.
I was in Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia, for the last two and a half days. I was looking at opportunities for service for my 10th grade students. I got to visit two schools, an orphanage, a couple of churches, and a nursing academy. The photo above was taken at one of the schools.
Yes, that is chicken wire acting as a window. Yes, that is a corrugated steel roof. Yes, those slats letting in daylight are the wall of the Kelas Satu (1st grade) classroom. Yes, students come here daily from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, and they’re grateful and enthusiastic for the education they get.
If you work in a place like I work (a highrise-housed, private, international school), or where I worked in Canada, or where friends of mine work in America, let me assure you…it is as bad as you can imagine to be a student in a rural school in Indonesia. It is like this all over South Asia, Asia, the Middle East, most places. Not every school is like this, but there are schools like this everywhere. The problem isn’t reading Three Cups of Tea and donating to your local educational charity. It also does not require all of you reading this to drop whatever job you have and come roaring over to Indonesia intent on saving the day.
The problem is that there is no one solution. No single fix-it approach. These students need teachers. The schools need financial help. The people need to believe that education is important. The world needs to wake up and start investing in the things that matter, the future of their children, not what fills their gas tanks or funds wars or…