Real life lesson in Indong Village

Fitria Chairani 9 November 2011

Lesson no. 1: tears

Today, November 7, 2011, I had my first real life lesson in Indong; to teach and to contribute. After fourteen hours of plane, and ship and boat ride I finally began my teaching journey in Indong Village, South Halmahera, North Maluku. My teacher here, Rahman Adi Pradana had my outmost astonishment when showing me his one year service in Indong Elementary School. Today is his farewell event at school, and I have not seen this many tears for a while. Almost everyone, including the teachers, students, parents burst into tears unwilling to let him leave.

What an amazing year for them and for Adi. He had given himself, his everything for this village. He had served the children, the school and everyone by assuring that every children is potential and none of them is 'dumb.' Every child has his own intelligence, capacity and bright talent to succeed.

In those children’s tears, I can feel their gratitude for ‘Pak Adi’ in bringing the best year in their life. With Pak Adi, the children feel confident, trusted, safe and appreciated. Although I have not seen Adi teach, from what I saw from his interaction during the ‘junior librarian’ meeting, he communicated very effectively. I could see his love to every single child, and vice versa. He knows when to be serious and when to be fun, and the children obeyed him fully. Although they love ­­­making noises, breaking things, or screaming, once Pak Adi raised his tone, they all froze in a second. They may continue doing so moments later, but Adi handled the children very well, in a way that everyone gives their attention to him.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Indong children are not ordinary ones. They are very active. They move around from one place to another, screaming, playing, with unlimited energy that I could never comprehend. These children however, had not been given chance to develop themselves. Coming from a village, they saw no future prospect awaiting them. Seen from what their parents were; small farmers, police, small traders, or fishermen, these children have limited dreams. As such, there is no motivation for them to grow larger and push their limit. What they know is that they will eventually pass the class and becoming what their parents are. No need to work hard in school. The teacher in Indong also tend to pass the children in any condition; even when they never come to class, or unable to read. These children then learned that whatever they do in class, they will pass anyway. Dreams mean nothing for them. They only watch as the time goes by until the time they finally grew up.

But Adi came and change their mind and heart. From Adi, they learn that they are able to achieve anything they want to achieve These children participated in numerous competitions; science, math, english, speech and poetry. They succeeded to manage a library. They held their own flag rising ceremony. Adi filled their leisure time normally used for playing and hanging around with extra-tutorials, reading lessons, competition preparation, reading and many productive activities that no one could ever imagine would happen in Indong. They now have both rights every children deserve; to study and to play. Adi made every clas enjoyable, taught discipline, love, respect and honor.

Adi, unlike other teachers or parents, never used stick or gave harsh punishment to children. He showed them that the best education is love. And love is what I saw in his eyes everytime he talked to the children. Children are to be treated with care, not violence. When children are used to violence, they will grow violent. This is seen by Indong teenagers who sometimes fight over football match. The teenagers, the children have nowhere higher than high school to go to. Only few continue to universities or colleges. This needs to stop, and that is why Adi, I, and the upcoming bunch of pengajar Muda are here.

Homework for one year.

My last three days spent with Adi before he departed back to Jakarta were precious. Not only had he inspired me, he also guided and taught me everything. He introduced me to every actors in the village. First, the village head who loves to matchmake. Then there are Indong ladies who love to cook, talk, serving guests and involved in PKK (women organization) Indong. Then there are Indong men who love to hang out in the terrace, sipping glass of tea or coffee and enjoying snack. There are also teachers and principal with their own issues, the paramedics, the Member of Local Parliament (DPRD), and most importantly, the children with very different characters and one similarity: active.

Adi reviewed his one year in Indong and gave me homework. More important, he brought up excitement to me. I had my fears and doubts. But with Adi, optimism and rigoris what I have now and hopefully will continue until the end of my journey. I know this year will be challenging. To finally leave this village independent and sustainable, and finally grab the villager's concern on education are by no means easy tasks. How will I improve the system if the teachers hardly ever come? How will this children ever do their homework if ther parents refuse to help them? A rather too complex issues to be dealt with in a year, but I have every reason to fight for it. At the end of the day, as Tri Mumpuni said, "development is about changing mindset," and that is what I am doing for the next one year.

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