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The Emerald Island

Nalikoy Insowibinderi Sarwom 23 Agustus 2012


That morning I woke up, opened my eyes and see a white mosquito net, a thin metal roof surrounded by unplastered walls. I slowly sat upon  my bed trying to assimilate my surroundings. The air was fresh, not far away there were sounds of hungry pigs and chicken, rythmic sounds of someone sweeping the hard floor and chirping of birds. I was still dazed and then realized how my life was turned upside down 180⁰.

I asked a few questions, where was I all this time? Am I dreaming? Or this is actually a reality and all this time I was dreaming of a glorious past.

I guessed this is reality. I have a Father whom I called ‘Bapa’ and a Mom whom I called ‘Mama’. I always wanted to call my own parents that way but due to some circumstances in which I was raised up in many foreign countries I never had the luxury to call them that way. Instead I called my own parents ‘Mom’ and ‘Daddy’. Beside that I have two siblings, both boys.

Each day, I would walk down to a water hole to take a bath. I would take a bath there  surrounded by nature, trees as my wall and and the blue sky as my roof. Those are te familiar sights that I would enjoy each time as I draw water. The scorching sun with its intensity is a loyal companion who would always accompany me to school while the wind would visit me and blew encouragement at night. This is my new home in Middle Rote, Rote Ndao. Rote Ndao, one of the most southern island in Indonesia, an emerald  jewel in the southern belt of this country.

My journey towards this emerald island is not an easy task. I’m telling you this because I had to compete and prove myself worth it to get this golden ticket and a life time opportunity to do something great.  Many obstacles that I and 70 others had to pass. Praise God, that we all could clear and overcome all those hurdles laid before us. And now well all 71 young people were deployed to 10 districts across Indonesia for one mission : bring light into the darkness. Educate children and inspire them that there is something great that lay before them, to opened up the window of knowledge and bring the world closer to them  and for the people in remote places. So allow me to recount about my journey to this amazing palce.

Walking back in time, there is this irony that on a night of 15th June 2012, there was this bus packed with approximately sixty  young people. We all sat worriedly for what faith laid ahead of each of us for one year ahead. We all sat quietly though some were sleeping but we all had the same thought, that is dreaming for  a better tomorrow, a better future not for us but for children in the remote areas that coud not enjoy a better education.

 As I sat among them, I gazed out and see Jakarta, a  metropolitan city full of lights and glitters. A city even late at night is still full of life and excitement. You could actually feel the beat of the city just by looking at it. The bus cruised by, passing many corporate offices as I gaze through the night many lights were still on, people were still busky working, walking briskly across the pavement, while some seems to enjoy the night. I ask “do they even realise that across the sea, somewhere deep in the jungle or in a small island a small kid do not even know what is electricity nor would they realise that humans could build tall buildings  upto 20 stories”. Those people out there seems to enjoy those little luxuries and yet  within the speeding bus we were ready to go and leave all this comfort for remote places with no electricty, little clean water and no network.  Its such an irony that we were living in the same city yet on that night we sat worriedly while others seems to go on with their lives.

Realizing that we would not be able to see  ‘civilization’ for sometime I wonder what my other 70 fellow friends were thingkin that night. As for me I feel quite excited to start this new adventure in my life.

 I never heard much abouth the island Rote itself. It was here at the Indonesia Mengajar training place that I learned about this small island. Trying to imagine how the island looked like too seems like quite an impossible task. Thus at the beginnng of my deployment I did not try hard to google on the net nor did I tried to search in the guide books  that would be my home for a year. Let it be a surprise for me.

We arrived in Kupang the capital province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) on 16th June 2012. We were all tired due to the long journey but curious of what laid before us. We stayed only for a day. Kupang is a small city, newly developed. The weather was qute hot an humid, dusty and not much greenery could be seen. But it was nice to be liberated from the traffic jam that seems to alwyas decorate Jakarta’s roads. After spending a night in the capital city, we were ready to leave the city and all its extravagance. Our excitement started when we reached the port, this is it! Once we boarded the ferry we would leave everything famliar to us for a year. The sun was up and the sea was calm, but the most spectacular of all and that shook our mind was the water. The water was so clear, it was indigo green, and we could see the rock beneath the water. I was amazed since we were at the seaport, and very few seaport had such clear water. My amazement did not rest there alone, during our journey toward the Rote island the view was breathtaking. The water was so blue and there were many fishing fly as if welcoming us to this island.

Arriving in Rote at its capital city Ba’a, we were welomed warmly by our precedents. They enthusiastically welcome us and we were even more excited to arrive at last in one of the most southern province in Indonesia. The air in Rote was so hot and humid but that did not dscourage us . Ba’a unlike Kupang was less hectic and it was so calm, very few vehcles could be seen passing by. It was then that I realised that “ Yes, we all have arrived at our destination”.  Spending only one night in Ba’a, the next day we leave for our respective village. The road toward Rote Tengah was another breathtaking journey. Next to the roads were beaches. One could see palm trees, white and soft looking sands,green and blue water, rocks. And then if one would look to the other side of the road then the eye would be pampered by green trees and green looking rice fields. Everywhere when you look in this island was all green, though some grass were yellowing and some turning brown  but some were still looking nice. Everything was so green that I called this island an emerald island. The best part of it is that this island still holds its primitive beauty. Its still untouched by human hands nor  disturbed by excessive flow of tourist. That’s why this island looks unique, rough yet beautiful.

I never expected to find something amazing here, never imgined to dicover an emerald jewel far away at the southern belt of my country. This island was never mentioned. Perhaps when we mentoned that we stayed in Rote island many would be confused and wondered where is this island. Pity if ths island would be forgotten or understimated. Due to this discover, I wonder how many islands in this archipelago  also holds the same breathtaking beauty?

Beside its breathtaking beauty, there is the people who are quite unique in some way. They are reserved at the beginning but slowly they would be friendly and a warm once we opened up toward them. My fostparent too are a trully kind parent who welcomed me with open arms inspite of the difficulties that they face. My students were very shy too and very difficult to talk to but just like their grown ups, all I need is just to be open and frindly and they too just like a book would let u read then and be close to them.

Its just a new experience and a trully new adventure that I am seeing and experiencing in this Emerald Island. There is lots of warmth and beauty here. I just hope that on da the world would be able to see what beauty and what potential the kids here are capable of. 


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