Indonesia: A heart of gratitude
I was overwhelmed with emotions when I first reached our destination, Ende. I could not believe that I was just a few minutes away from my sponsored child. Upon arriving at the place where we were supposed to meet our sponsored children, my heart was pounding very fast and my eyes kept wandering to search for my beloved sponsored child.
I was so excited to meet my sponsored child that I almost forgot her nickname which was mentioned in one of her letters to me. Her nickname is Restin. Both of us have been writing letters to each other since last year, so it felt surreal when I could see her introduce herself right before my eyes. The most memorable part was when Chris, the emcee for the introduction session, asked Restin who she was looking forward to meet and she said my name. At that moment, tears of joy came streaming down my face.
After the introduction session, we proceeded to have lunch. During lunch, I randomly asked Chris about the meals they have on a daily basis. Their meals usually consist of papaya leaves and fish because meat is too expensive for them. After listening to how simple their meals are, I felt extremely guilty for the countless times when I would grumble about my food and not finishing them. Hence, after returning from the Child Sponsorship trip, whenever I look at the spread on my dining table, I do not consider them as mundane anymore. I feel so blessed with what I have and make sure I finish everything I take.
After lunch, we went for a mini trip to Rumah Pengasingan Bung Karno where I witnessed my beloved Resin reading to Greg, who was our trip leader. I saw her reading every single word she saw in the House. I was very heartened to see her eagerness to learn and improve her language skills
Honestly, I felt extremely blessed to be given the opportunity to meet Restin. I have learnt a lot from her and I am glad that she has been really happy to receive my letters and small gifts. I think I shall take my letter writing more seriously from now on, because words are powerful, they can make or break a person. I want to be a person who motivates Resin to dream and aspire for great things. Furthermore, I want to make it an effort to meet her every year or every two years until the project phases out because I want to increase our chances of interaction.
On the second day of our trip, we drove for more than 2 hours to Mukureku Village. The purpose for the visit here is to see how the pipeline has benefitted the community and to help them to beautify the pipeline. They were all really happy to see us because it was very rare for them to have visitors from other countries visiting their village, so they all put on their best outfits and served us with local delicacies such as boiled corns, fried tapioca and the Kelimutu coffee. I was touched by the generosity of the people, how they could serve us with great hospitality, despite having to scrimp and save on a daily basis.
After drinking the Kelimutu coffee and helping the villagers to paint their water pipeline, we went to the Ndenggarongge village where we visited a school and played with the students from Peibenga Catholic Primary School. Resin attends the school too! The students in the school are aged between 5 and 12 years old. We were immensely touched when they greeted us with songs in Bahasa Indonesia; their voices were just soothing to our ears. We played ‘Dog and Bone’ with them. The students were filled with so much enthusiasm as they played the game! One student even said a prayer before she started to play and those who were the spectators were cheering for their friends with so much joy!
At the end of the second day, I was reflecting and I realized how blessed we are as Singaporeans. We are able to gain access to clean water anytime and anywhere we want, while the people in Mukureku could only get clean water from the pipelines. It made me think that we could do more to help them, such as building more pipelines for them or even installing tap in each household. I was also very impressed with the students’ tenacity and motivation to learn despite the poor classroom conditions. They were so eager to learn, enthusiastic to read aloud in class and were so responsive to answer our questions.
On the third day, we travelled for at least two hours to Ekoae village to attend a parenting campaign. The parents of this campaign were all trained to be familiarized with the child protection project which aimed to help children against violence. The parents were invited to share their opinions on the project before the World Vision’s staff elaborated on how they would protect children against violence. I learnt that one of the ways was to discuss about the mistake of the child with him or her instead of just screaming at the child.
The most exciting part happened after the talk, when we had the honor to present the birth certificates of the children to their parents personally. Having a birth certificate means a lot to them because it gives each child the capacity to be entitled to several rights and increase his chances of securing a job after he grows up.
We were all very heartened to see the number of parents who were willing to set aside time out of their busy schedules to attend the parenting talk. That showed the eagerness they had towards learning to become better parents who know how to raise their children without resorting to violence.
It was also very nice to see many fathers being present at the parenting talk and being very enthusiastic about the project, their presence pointed out that the fathers knew the importance of co-parenting and shared responsibility.
The entire trip was very well-planned and meaningful. It was a fantastic experience to meet the child whom I was writing to for the past one year and to spend quality time with the villagers, children and World Vision’s staff. Indeed, the trip was an eye-opener, the living environment and conditions were just so different from Singapore. It made me more appreciative of the things which I have. I made a promise that I will make an effort to visit Ende every year, or every 2 years so that I can meet Restin and see how she is doing. Lastly, I will never forget all the friendships that were forged and the memories we shared together. I am grateful that all of us bonded very well and could work very well with each other.