Friday, 2 August 2013

Blog Terakhir - Final Blog

Berti grabbing lunch from Bakso (meatballs) cart in village
Time has come to say goodbye to Indonesia and my CUSO volunteer experience. I didn’t set out on this journey to change the world but hoped there would be a small lasting impact for marginalized peoplefrom my work . I even more so hoped that I would represent Canada and CUSO volunteers as a  respectful,  responsible, and resilient interloper in Indonesian work and community life. I think only the Indonesian people can make the judgment and probably only time will tell. I am posting various photos from my last days in Indonesia – hopefully you will enjoy seeing my last days of receiving many cloth weavings which are traditional gifts of this region. A beautifully beaded bag from Berti and her family is among those special gifts. These friends will stay in my memory bank forever!
Jackfruit and colleagues

Mr. Fary, my orgnaization's founder
 Always with the help if others, including Berti my Indonesian daughter/colleague and Kelsey my Canadian daughter we have accomplished some things. Brief re-run: awareness DVD on Disability “Ability”; informational poster of government and community supports available for all ages all levels of ability; website for PERSANI, the Kupang and area disabled persons organization. Hopefully all three of these achievements leave a sustainable resource for inclusion and integration of people with physical and mental challenges. Before I left, the DVD was shown to the VSO Bali Office staff on my final exit meeting day and all staff commented they had no idea these many supports were available to their fellow citizens.

PERSANI members
After I left Indonesia I heard from Berti that the local provincial government representative asked if she could take our DVD to a conference in Jakarta to show to her colleagues. This woman also told Berti that she would be taking a dependent-elder pension application to Jakarta with her for a woman we hoped to help and whose photo was in a Blog post a year ago May. The gears often grind slowly to my dismay but at least this might help this family soon!

As I travel in Australia for a holiday with Don, following my holiday on Flores Island with fellow volunteer Jennifer, I have met many people who have asked about this experience. The words are hard to find;
not easy for me and more than likely not easy for my workplace colleagues;
Trying to work in another language is the toughest;
Loneliness and boredom sets in;
PERSANI meeting and gift
Extreme heat for a northern body makes activity to ease boredom difficult;
New and rewarding experiences, and lifetime friendships make it all worthwhile.
Riding my motorbike although still scary at times was fun!!!!! And the freedom it brought was invaluable.
Two years is a long time to be away from familiar surroundings, friends and family.
Would I do it again?
Yes I would. No regrets.
 Tidak maaf.
 Non, Je ne regrette rien.

village friends and Berti, and boys
To all of you who supported me through emails, words of encouragement and and generally friendly emails and Skypes as well as through CUSO financially as I prepared to set out on this adventure, a great big THANKS  - there aren’t enough words to express my heartfelt appreciation for all of you. 
I do feel blessed.
Last minute great news! Berti has a  great new job starts August with Aus. Aid Perinatal Maternal Neonatal Health programme on Sumba Island.
gifts from my workplace

Monday, 8 July 2013

Smapai Jumpa Lagi - See You Again

Today sitting on the beach at Sanur I realize it has been exactly 20 months since arriving in Indonesia and I am back where I started here on Bali. I said my final “so longs” in Kupang, shed a few tears and extra hugs with Berty my dear friend who is now a part of my family. I feel so blessed to be able to say that I now have family in Indonesia, something that never entered my mind on taking on this adventure. I knew I would make friends, but never imagined what special people  I would meet in Berty, her mother and father, Chris, Augus, and Jupen. I cannot imagine my time in Kupang without her. We said “sampai jumpa lagi – see you again” when we parted at the airport.
son of village head presenting my ikat weaving

My week was full of sampai jumpa lagi’s and so I include photos here. I was presented with several ikat weavings large and small, from the head of the village and his family after which we sat on their front porch chatting with them asking lots about Canada. They wanted to know about farming in Canada and if we tilled the fields by hand or machine, how do we farm when it is cold etc. It was a heart warming afternoon drinking sweet coffee and sharing.

chatting on the porch

Then off to see an elder who really touched me whenever I saw her at our meetings. A woman, who is dedicated to her community, gets to all of the meetings concerning local government and always has a mischievous smile to share. She asked me to come to her house and was ready with a weaving of her own and dressed me up in one of her formal blouses and sarong to pose for the photo.
My borrowed sarong and blouse for the photo!
Ikat presentation

 We finished our awareness poster in the nic of time to get it delivered to the villages and one each to the health centres, 4 in all. Thanks to Chris for his computer magic to get our concept into print and thanks to my organization INCREASE for managing the print work and stands. We are hopeful it will keep disability services and supports front and centre in the minds of local health workers and their leaders.


 We also presented graduation certificates to the volunteers we trained to help people with disability in their villages and they were excited to receive the certificate and a pin for their lapel from the City of Red Deer. 
Berty presenting certificate

Oesna Village Grads!

I am going to finish off for now but still have more to share about the last weeks in Indonesia so stay tuned. a Few more events to capture.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Minggu Terakhir - Last Week

My last week in Kupang has begun. There will be many “lasts” and much anxiety on my part as I pack, give away and generally close down the house where I’ve been living since May.
The trick is to prepare for the next month as I travel the island of Flores with a fellow volunteer on holiday, then a few days in Bali wrapping up VSO reporting and then a holiday with Don in Australia before heading home to Canada, starting in Toronto.

My goal is to travel with my large backpack and my day pack, similar to what I arrived with by sending one box of souvenirs and stuff I don’t need with me on my travels, back to Canada. Will have to arrange a car to take me to the post office with the box as just can’t quite carry it on the bike! I’m sure someone could but not me.

It is amazing what does get transported by bike. Large stacks of boxes on the back of the bike, held on by metal racks; about 20 live chickens on their way to market hanging head down from a pole laid across the handle bars of the bike; a guy on the passenger seat holding onto a long metal pole dragging it behind; a guy hanging onto a sheet of plywood dragging it behind! I do my best to not get behind those guys! I’m still trying to get photos, but to do so I’ve got to stake out a busy corner in the shade and just sit and wait with camera in hand – we’ll see. For this Blog just one or two photos as I've lent out my camera and haven't downloaded the photos first!!!!!

For my neice Meaghan
I had a dream last night that Don and I were trying to get cockroaches out– I wonder how long it will be before I don’t watch where I’m walking closely, expecting to see these household pets underfoot? Then when I went into the kitchen this morning, there was one, belly up by the door – an easy one to sweep out! Gotta love the belly up ones! AND my last bit of musili, which I’d been hoarding, finally let the ants in. Killed me to throw it out but I’ve probably had my fill of them eating it these last few days.

Got the last oil change on my bike today, getting ready for its handoff to Nelly once she is ready to try riding. It has been well broken in – lots of scratches and bumps so she doesn’t need to worry about any additions.

stop at the market for fish
Oesena grads of our training & Berty, Feni (right)from our org.
I realized something this week that makes it tough to be an older volunteer. At least for me – can’t and shouldn’t speak for others. It is that I have such a huge network of friends and family in Canada that pulls me back, keeps me connected and makes is difficult to just settle into a volunteer home half way around the world and make it home. (wouldn’t want it otherwise and couldn't have managed where without it). I can settle in, make friends, find some work and entertainment, but it’s not home and when something comes up with those in Canada, I’m too far away to be part of it and that’s important to me. At my life stage, friends and family become ill, friends and family have aging parents who die, friends losing homes due to floods, and I want to be there to be able to pick up the phone and have a long chat or drop over to give hugs. 

I know, it’s not about me, but it’s important to me. It might seem obvious to all who are reading my blog, and I would have said so before this adventure too, but the actual experience is different. All volunteers say they learn a bunch about themselves with this experience and it’s true.  Hopefully we also leave something behind, which is our main goal.
Will continue to blog as I finish up and get into travel but once I’m off of the Indonesian island, this adventure will draw to a close as will this Blog. Will let you know when the last one is posted.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Minyak Kelapa - Coconut Oil

skinning the shell
Last week in the village we stopped off at a home we often visit and they were in the process of making coconut oil, both to sell and use themselves. What a process! So labour intensive and a full day job. First they have a truckload of coconutes delivered which then need to be skinned, cut up, shredded, squeezed of their liquid which is then boiled in a wok over an open fire. the Dad is the cook, keeping the ire going, fanning it every so often to keep the temperature right and feeding te sticks of wood in at just the right time.


squeezing shredded mixed with water from the coconut

reducing the juice to oil
It takes 4 coconuts to make a 500ml bottle of oil and the wok can take equivalent to the juice from 80 shredded and squeezed at a time. I believe they have several hundred delivered to make it worth their while and friends gather to help out. I was able to buy a bottle for equivalent to about $2.00!!

What a lovely aroma to cook with and on checking the internet I don't believe it is all the unhealthy as I thought it was.

boiling oil

I hope you enjoy the photos!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Selasai yang Dekat - The End is Near

One month before finishing in Kupang.
I have decided that as of June 25th I will be finished with my placement in Kupang and wrapping up. The projects that I’ve been working on will be finished, local volunteers with be trained and able to carry on the interviewing and linking of people with disability to appropriate resources, the  awareness DVD on “abilities of people with disability” is done and the resource poster will be finished and in two venues in each of the two villages. That means it’s time for me to move on and allow local people sustain it all as much as possible.
Berty's birthday

So, to that end this month is busy with all the follow up of the volunteers, yesterday being a day of hearing how they made out in their meetings with people in their village, and us helping them understand the resources available for the people who expressed desires for change in their lives or that of their child.

Beach at Wini
One such possibility we are helping them to follow up on is a man who had polio as a youth, now married with a family, but with no use of his legs who is mobile by using his arms to propel himself along the ground. He has been making money my building door and window frames, does not want mobility aids but does want better tools to do more of his carpentry work. He does not want to go off the island for extensive training as he has a family to support. On investigation we have learned there is the possibility of a sponsored 3 month training in Kupang, an hour and a half from the village, and at the end he would get the tools to carry on his carpentry work more efficiently. I sure hope this comes to fruition and hopefully will know before I leave.

Breakfast in the garden
Another is a young girl who is mentally challenged and also physically and her parents want her to receive some education. We have confirmed she can come to boarding school in Kupang and the fee is within the means of the family as it is a government-supported school.

I’m also busy trying to remember to take photos of the everyday sights that I don’t want to forget, but have become such a part of everyday life I forget they will soon fade from memory. A couple of videos taken while on the back of Berty’s motorbike should prove fun to watch some day!

Wini sunset

Dinner at Wini Beach
So, there will be a couple of more posts from Indonesia before I depart on July 10th.
Berty at market

We've also had Berty's birthday celebration with dinner, carrot cake baked by Angela and great music from a friend's guitar.

Also a visit from a CUSO volunteer working on another island along with his girlfriend visiting from Canada. 6 of us, including my former CUSO volunteer housemate Nelly rented a car and driver and went for an overnight trip up island to a village and beach named Wini. It was mountain driving all the way, so winding narrow roads. A good trip and excellent souvenir shopping at a shop sellling weavings from a local women's group. We started with a lovely breakfast at Angela and Morton's in the back garden then off we went for a full day of driving. Great dinner at the beach when we arrived - fresh fish, of which I'm getting loads of these days.

Also, on the way to the village this week we stopped and Berty bought fresh fish - cleaned on purchase, to offer to the family and have for our lunch during our visit/meeting with the local volunteers. Grilled to perfection - the fish, not the volunteers!

So, there will be only a couple of more posts from Indonesia before I depart on July 10th but I'm sure a few more stories to go!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Selamat Hari Ibu - Happy Mother's Day

The “big” move has now successfully happened. Our lease was up the end of April and as Nelly my housemate is here for another year and a half she found a place to live that suits her well. I am staying with Angela and Morton in their house, where I stayed last year for a month when looking for a new place for me. Angela’s work contract of 4 1/2 years is finished the end of June and they are heading to the UK for a while before settling back in Australia. Their plan is to leave about the second week of June, then I will have the house to keep running until I leave.

The projects I have been working on; the awareness DVD that is now finished, the informational posters that will sit in the offices and health clinics of both villages I have worked in, and a website for the Disabled Person’s Organization PRSANI, will all be completed by the 3rd week of June when I feel my work here will be at an end. I will be leaving Indonesia July 10th. There will be many memories and special people and experiences that will stay with me forever. I am trying to capture some of the everyday life to share with all of you.

“The Move” (Balcony photo care of Morton Rees photographer supreme)
moving truck

Angela got us a small truck through her work driver which was a blessing as Nelly had SO much stuff: all the kitchen stuff and her own. So they got a full load from her then came back for me. By then the little local boys had arrived and all wanted to help load.  Our friend Laura arrived to take James’ (former volunteer) big motor bike down to Angela &Morton's as VSO doesn't know yet what they want me to do with it as no new volunteers are coming, but it has been sitting since January so wouldn't start, had a flat front tire and hardly any gas!!!!! So Laura took off on her bike to find a guy to come back to push it to the nearest tambal ban - roadside business selling air. By the time she got back the guys with the truck had the bike running, opening up the choke, and  the guy she brought took off pushing the bike, down the road to his air service, Berti  and Chris arrived to help, so Chris took Laura on her bike to follow the guy pushing James’ bike, I had mine and Berti on hers and the little helpful boys I paid off for the loading, telling them they had to share the money. So off we set, me driving behind the truck, Berti leading on her bike and Chris with Laura off to the air pressure and the guy pushing James' bike!!!! What a sight we were. (sorry if this is just very confusing but I was laughing all the way to Angela’s! See the photo of the truck unloading.  Even brought my little herb garden with me – basil, mint and parsley.


Friday nights are often the night some of us go out to eat and have a drink so this Friday was a walk to the Sasando Hotel for a burger, fries and a beer. It feels so good to walk nd get some exercise, as this is not a walking country. We have a road with a good short hill as busy intersection to cross then a busy roadside with no sidewalks – very few of those in Kupang – and of course it is dark at 6 pm so we carry our lights with us more for others to see us than us to see as the motorized world is not looking for walkers! But, we also have to keep our eyes open for holes and pits along the road as well as rocks. This is what makes walking not an enjoyable experience and especially in the dark.
ikat weaving class in village

But now that I am living closer to the “Zumba” class, Angela and I are going up the hill for a 5 minute walk to the classes 3 times a week. A good workout aerobically and fun women and good music! Tells me how out of shape I am though. I am down about 12 pounds from my Canada weight but still feels like I’m hauling around the same poundage on the Zumba floor!
volunteers trainees interviewing in vllage home

This morning I babysat Rose, my friend Chrystal’s little one and enjoyed watching a 9 month old explore her surroundings, while Chrystal tried to get some of her correspondence schoolwork done. Such fun watching this little one!
So all for now everyone. Next one should have a link to the new website Kelsey is helping to build from distant Vancouver and a photo of our new poster – all going well!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Memperbarui Desa Oesena - Update, Oesena Village

Where has April gone? For those of you who have suffered through the usual April snow, warm, rain and just plain up and down weather patterns of Canada's spring I can imagine you are now rewarded with the sprouts and signs of warming. As I've said, seasons here are dry and wet and really the only other difference is in the direction of the breeze. Hot is the only word!

Lounging on Lombok with friends
So, the update on our DVD debut in Oesena village. The DVD was well received and comments are mostly that people were inspired to try to make a difference in the lives of their fellow villagers who experience the external barriers that having any kind of difference brings, be it mental, physical, emotional or social. With patient prodding and long silences we gained 7 volunteers who were willing to be coached by us on how to interview people with disabilites in their village and collect the data required by the provincial and district governments to assess them for assistance.  Primarily, the ones who will probably receive the most assistance will be young adults who qualify to go for training in skills or in upgrading high school education interrupted by accident or disease. We are learning that although it is said there is a pension fund  for older people who are totally dependent, the fact of the matter is this seldom seems to come about. Right now we think we are hearning that this year's budget for them is fully ascribed, therefore the woman we submitted information for two months ago will probably not receive anything. This is so sad, as her daughter provides total care in very limited surroudings and cannot get away to earn the money they need to make things a little more comfortable. The other limitation is schoooling for children with significant limitations physically and mentally. The family needs to have enough money to support room and board at the school sponsored by government in Kupang and transportation to bring the children home on weekends for a day, if there are even rooms available for the kids to board.

PERSANI 3rd Birthday

But, back to our volunteers. We went back to Oesena the following week to do the training with our 7 volunteers- two for each sub village (neighbourhood), one of whom is a local health volunter who has been trained to facilitate the maternal child health programme of  clinics for weigh in and checkups and referral. This is great to get these volunteers as they know their community and are well respected. Next step this week was to accompany them on their first interviews and coach on site if needed. It is so cool to see these people interact with their community members, how they use humour to set the tone and how serious everyone is about "data gathering". We left Kupang at 8 am on motorbikes and arrived at 9:30 in the village where we sat around for half an hour waiting for the other volunteeer to arrive who had been at her distant "plot" harvesting the corn crop for a few days so had to get up at 5 am to make it back to the village - taking local trucks as transport, outfitted with boards in the back for seats and on then foot the last 2 km.
Gili Island snorkel day from Lombok

Every interview - 5 in all in the 3 subvillages - took all day, getting home at 5, just before dark. I was bagged! Mostly because conversation runs slowly and lots of visiting, food at every home of course - lots of rice! Two interviews stand out for me, but all were vary valuable.
One is a girl of 10 whose twin is healthy, but this girl has a knee joint which is backwards, (try to picture how she walks) a hand with stubby and missing fingers, limited eyesight and  reduced mental capacity. Her father saw the DVD on Elmi's experience and this inspired him to try to find schooling for his daughter. We will do our best to investigate the possibilites as they will not be able to pay large fees and they will need to room and board her.

PERSANI Birthday party
The other is a young man of 25 who had a stroke due to high blood pressure a year ago and has lost the use of his right arm and has distinct weakness in his right leg. He was part way into his biology degree in Kupang at the university but has not returned, working on his ability to write notes with his left hand and trying to build walking strength. This so dismays me, because if he were in Canada or another "western" country he would be back to school with all the electronic aids at h
Green cake is popular!
and and conciliations from the university to support his continued success. We are helping the volunters to explore some options for him to continue his learning path.

I am also helping the organization for disabled persons with website development but as that is not in my repertoire, have enlisted daughter Kelsey's expertise. she is fabulous and the 3rd birthday for PERSANI the organization was this week, with a very tearful Director thanking us for this work so freely given. the members are so very appreciative as they have very limited funding and didn't see themselves able to have a much needed website. a few photos here on the birthday party.

roommate Nelly's kitten and neighbours
So that's the update. Other than that, I'm including photos from my Easter holiday on Lombok with my friends and a photo of my bed etc on the balcony frying out the bedbugs. Success!