Thursday, August 1, 2013

Off the Beaten Path

An expat in Jakarta can avoid all of the uncomfortable places. However, in reality, "On the Beaten Path" is a more fitting title to this blog post. Here, around each turn is poverty and lack. Recently, I accompanied two of my new Jakarta friends to an indigenous urban development in the port area of Tanjung Priok. This kampung in North Jakarta was one of the heaviest hit by the devastating floods in January and February of this year. On this particular sunny day, there was evidence of the community's recent tragedy, but it was also clear that residents have worked diligently to clean up and salvage and repair after being inundated with flood waters. Some people must persevere with such extreme hardship!

Our visit centred around a small school in the village. I had the privilege of meeting the 2 amazing Nationals who have invested their time, expertise and love into the people living in Sunter kampung . A few years back they began working with the women here, teaching them life skills, hygiene, clean cooking habits, English. They funded and established this small school, a sewing centre and a cooking/baking enterprise. Interested and receptive village women are employed according to fair trade standards, and have opportunity to be productive and industrious, earn much needed income. This practical, nurturing, Christ-centred ministry has impacted many women, their children and of course there is a natural spill over to their husbands.

My friend Jan has supported this ministry for years and and so when the time came for Jan to leave Jakarta, the logical recipients of her kitchen paraphernalia were these women. We had fun distributing Jan's kitchen items on this occasion. I found it interesting that we were asked to donate the items to the children rather than the moms. Apparently having the kids take home these new treasures ensured the women would not fight and argue over the gifts. We made up English games and questions that the children were eager to answer. Answer correctly?- win a glass or a bowl or a plate! They were delighted with such simple gifts! It was an incredible experience!

The teacher and school staff gave us a tour of their community. It was lunchtime and there was a great deal of cooking and fraternizing happening. The homes were extremely humble. The lanes and passages were relatively clear of litter. There were so many smiles and welcomes for us!

Everywhere were these rickety wooden bridges that we walked over to get from place to place. I was (quietly) very concerned about the possibility of falling through and I had to muster my courage- what lurks under and amongst those sea grasses is not pretty and the water is filthy!

It was very important that we pay our respects to the village Governor. His home was accessed via this long wooden platform. He met us with solemn but inviting handshakes. He is a pigeon fancier and proudly showed us his pigeon lofts. I could hardly enjoy it though for thinking about getting back over the boardwalk!

Head down and think hard about where I place my next step...

Phrasal Verb: Make Do With
Meaning: Accept something less satisfactory because their is no alternative.

I wondered if this particular building is their community centre as there is a pool table inside??

I was happy to meet these lovely people. It was confronting to see their difficult living situations but so many are now exposed to opportunities they did not have before. I wonder what will come of these dear children, precious in His sight? (Isaiah 43:4)

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