Volunteering in Indonesia
First three months of my volunteering in Indonesia have just slipped away, and with every successive day it seems that time goes even faster. Those three months were full of new experiences and challenges, ups and downs, full of happy and even crazy moments. Moments that gave me so much, moments that broadened my mind and understanding, moments that are changing my life little by little.
Living in Indonesian family.
To begin with, I live in an Indonesian Muslim family in Borobudur village. I have my own room with a huge bed, and my luggage serves as a perfect cupboard. We even have two bathrooms and two traditional toilets, as well as a very nice kitchen and living room. The house is new, but not fully equipped. Anyways, it is even more than I expected, so I am happy to live there.
As next to my house is a Mosque, five times per day you can hear the Azaan (the call of prayer). This means that five times per day some man in a Mosque is inviting all the Muslims to pray using a microphone. Believe me, the sound is crazy loud. The first call is at about 4am., so every night my sweet dreams are interrupted by this “lullaby”. Fortunately, I am already getting used to it.
I am also getting used to ants, spiders, mosquitoes, geckos and probably other creatures who are living together with me in my room, or even sleeping with me in my bed.
Talking about my new family, I really love them, as everyday I can see a perfect example of a close, loving and supportive family. I have never heard them shouting on each other or being angry. My two brothers love their parents so much! They always hug, nestle or kiss their parents or even each other. But what I admire the most is those moments, when I can hear my family reading the Koran loudly. These moments are really magical.
One day, I came back from the office and I found my “mother” siting in front of the window and reading the Koran, while my little brother was lying next to her and listening. You could feel the serenity and love in the air. The love for son, the love for mother, and the love for their God.
Indonesian cuisine is diverse, and according to the history, cooking techniques here and ingredients were influenced by India, the Middle East, China, and even Europe. Besides being diverse the cuisine is also so delicious! I fell in love with the food here. Rice is the main dish in Indonesia, which means that you eat it during your breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you eat some snacks, they are also very often made from rice. So.. Yeah.. Rice is everywhere. If there is nothing to eat, you can always find some rice.
On the other hand, you can also enjoy here an amazingly delicious sea food, vegetables, exotic fruits, traditional snacks made from coconut sugar or rice (or both), fried noodles, noodle soup, and etc. Very often it is difficult to stop eating. By the way, a big papaya here costs only about 1 litas, so you can eat it every day!
Weather and nature.
Everyday the temperature is about 35 degrees, and usually you do not need warm clothes here. Even though because of the religion I have to wear clothes that are covering my knees and shoulders (it is kind of respect for their religion). Despite this, I am enjoying the Indonesian weather, as everyday the sun is making me smile, while rare and heavy rains are creating a cozy atmosphere around. In the early morning when I am riding my bicycle, I admire a morning mist hiding the tops of the mountains. All the greenness around with palm trees and rice fields make you understand why Indonesians should be proud of their country.
Unfortunately, next to all the beautiful things around, Indonesia has a big problem related to lack of education regarding ecology, which results in an enormous amount of plastic and other rubbish around. Many people in rural areas are burning all their rubbish, as there is no other way to get rid of them. Well.. Indeed there is.. Throwing everything away just in the street.
What do I do here? For the last three months I was reading a lot about Borobudur temple and world heritage, as well as about Muslim and Buddhist religions. I made some presentations about an importance of the world heritage conservation and went to schools to educate children about it, as well as introduced them my country - Lithuania. I teach them not only about world heritage, at the same time, I teach the basics of English language, as in many schools the level of English is low. Very often children understand me, but cannot say even a sentence in English.
Furthermore, we are also taking care of the Young Guardian Club in Borobudur. At the beginning it was not clear who are the members of the club or what are the main activities of it. There was only several active members, while the others were completely passive and not motivated at all to attend the meetings. Now the situation is getting better. We are trying to revitalize the club, as well as to change the concept of it. One week ago we wrote a project for YGC camp and implemented it. Me and my partner Antonio organized everything from the program of the camp and finances to the place and transportation. As a result, children were very happy and finally motivated. They were really grateful for us and felt as a real team. So it seems, that we are on the right path, even though, there is still a lot of work waiting for us ahead. In following weeks we are planing to educate those children about ecology, as well as, the damage that plastic can make to environment, so they could go to schools and pass their knowledge to other children later on and become real young guardians - agents of the change.
Finally about our free time. Well, usually together with other volunteers we are exploring Indonesia, its culture and nature, as well as spending time with local people. I am trying to learn Indonesian language, as it helps me to know more about the culture and at the same time ease communication with Indonesians. We met here a very friendly and talented artists community. Together with them we are attending art galleries, discussing or just traveling around the Borobudur area. These people have already become our close friends, our family.
The two travels that really made me a huge impression were Karimunjawa islands and a three day expedition on foot for visiting nine historic temples in Yogyakarta area. The Karimunjawa travel was just an awesome adventure, while the temple expedition was more like spiritual travel that encouraged many reflections about the world and life.
To sum up, Buddha once said “The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness.” I think, I have already found my source of happiness. Volunteering gives you an invaluable gift of learning how to give. It gives you much more compared to the amount of efforts and time you invest. Sometimes it is funny and easy, sometimes it is crazy difficult, but from mistakes and challenges you can always learn your lessons.