A Bittersweet Homecoming

posted in: 2009, Indonesia - No Comments

IND-ImamwithGKA joint reflection by Gretchen and Kerr [Ed. note: this post was written in the days immediately following the bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 17.]

The past 72 hours have been a whirlwind. Thursday lunchtime had us delivering our final presentation to the IRD and SERASI staff; this thirty-minute PowerPoint had people laughing at Kerr’s dancing skills, and listening to not only our adventures over the last 8 weeks but also our contributions and confidence in these development and peace building programs. By 4pm we were leaving the office, kissing and hugging our colleagues and our friends, and by ten o’clock that evening we were on the plane headed back to the United States. We were feeling excited about our return but also a little sad to leave Indonesia since our internship had been such a great experience. READ MORE

Good Intentions. . .

posted in: 2009, Indonesia - No Comments

IND-community meetingBefore I left IRD Headquarters weeks ago for my journey to Indonesia, I was given the plans for latrines to be constructed through the IRD Watsan project in Yogyakarta. The project is part of a larger regional effort for which IRD is serving as a subcontractor responsible for several sub-villages south of Yogya. Each sub-village was to work with IRD to construct their four mandi (traditional Indonesian squat toilet) latrines and exterior water supply valves to serve the sub-village’s water needs. READ MORE

The B Factor

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IND-Palu Program StaffWhen I first arrived in Indonesia, I was warned that in certain places I would feel like a rock-star. Children would call out to me, “Hey Mister!” and others would ask to take my picture. I was told that I would generally be the center of attention most places I went. I listened to the warning and thanked the messenger, but then I quickly dismissed it. Why would anyone want to take my picture? What could possibly make me interesting to strangers on the street? At that time, I could not have imagined being on stage at a televised dangdut concert three weeks later. (Dangdut is a type of Indonesian music heavily inspired by music from India.) I had no idea how real the warning of rock-star treatment was actually going to be! READ MORE

INDONESIA

posted in: 2009, Indonesia - 1 Comment

Kerr Ramsay and Gretchen Van Ess outside the SERASI office

Kerr Ramsay and Gretchen Van Ess outside the SERASI office

The people of Indonesia are some of the kindest and warmest that I’ve met anywhere in all of my travels. They live in a country full of diversity, life and beauty. This overwhelming kindness and natural beauty make it hard to believe that our work for the last two weeks in Central Sulawesi with SERASI has focused on conflict mitigation in the aftermath of devastating religious conflicts over the last ten years. Much of the conflict in this region occurred around the city of Poso. For many years Poso was a peaceful city located on the Tomini Bay whose residents were almost evenly split between Christian and Muslim. Although there are a variety of stories from the locals about why the conflict started, the results of the conflict have left the most lasting impression.

Driving through Poso there are still entire neighborhoods where only the charred foundations remain of houses once occupied by their Christian owners. READ MORE