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…
There are hundreds of Buddhas at Borobudur. It was hard to focus on just one, but this one, fully intact in his niche, seemed like he wanted some attention. Although, technically, Buddha didn’t seek attention, only enlightenment.
I’m on my way to Sulawesi, but I’m posting photos from my last trip to the Yogyakarta area. I think this is the last rice field photo I’ll post for a while, but I hope you don’t mind. I find them so beautiful.
What I also find beautiful is the very traditional way so many Indonesian farmers work their fields. Giant fields are worked with small shovels and hoes. Pretty amazing.
…to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. ”
So said Mark Twain, and I agree. I think that there are other agents for the fatality of negative human attributes, like education and education. And I should be clear – some people can travel the world looking for McDonald’s restaurants and Macy’s stores and Holiday Inn hotels. They can avoid all the culture and ethnicity and find North America everywhere they go, complaining that no one speaks English. Sadly, I’ve been around some of those people as I’ve traveled around South Asia.
I’ve also had the pleasure of traveling with and around people who are looking for a better understanding of the world and its people. It may be, though, that it’s the attitude of the traveler that will determine whether prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness are fatally eradicated. Mark Twain, from what I’ve read, seemed to be the kind of man who was willing to challenge himself as well as others. Some people, sad people, do not have any desire to upend their tiny understanding of the world.
Just a quick one…second photo posted today…for the WordPress Photo Challenge: Geometry.
I think it’s the strange geometric shapes of rice fields that appeal to those of us foreign to Asia. The idea that someone took the initiative to re-carve the landscape to fit their needs is impressive, but it’s a little like seeing the Canadian prairies for the first time from the air in miniature.
Very visually stimulating.
Before I moved to Indonesia, I had seen photos of South Asian families riding on motorcycles. The whole family. Parents, kids, babies with groceries, backpacks and whatever else all packed on what we, in Canada, referred to as a scooter. Some little 125cc Honda.
Then I got here and witnessed it for myself. One part of me is excited at the prospect of getting a motorcycle and riding around Jakarta streets. The parent in me has little, maybe no, interest at getting my kids on my bike and riding with me.
How does the saying go? When in Rome? or Jakarta?
…you have become enlightened.
Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while will recognize the difference between the lower stupas and the upper ones. The diamonds and the squares are indicative of how stable one’s enlightenment is.