I spent two weeks in a beautiful Werang village, two hours drive by car and three by local bus from Labuan Bajo, Flores. I worked for Taman Bacaan Pelangi. What a long name you have…in the library at the primary school of headmaster Hendrikus. I also stayed in his house, together with his lovely wife Veronica and their 9 year old son Feri, whom I called “Feri Very Good”.
I have never felt so welcome in my life! The whole village was so curious about me, that during my first walk “alone” I was followed by 20 kids and everybody came out there houses to say: Hello Mister!
Normally Indonesian people like to go to their neighbour’s houses to drink coffee and talk, but after I appeared, we had lots and lots and lots of people dropping in. Where are you from? How old are you? Where is your husband? Do you have children?
“I’m Lidwien from Belanda, Amsterdam but you can call me Ibu Ludi, My husband’s name is Rene and he’s on pension, My son is 28 years old. I am a librarian I come to work in the library as a volunteer. Ok. that’s clear.
And this in my 5 words of Bahasa Indonesia and their 3 words of English. But there was always my dictionary to help us.
And then daily life started with the villagers: Please eat rice! Did you already wash yourself? Are you going home? Where are you going? Jalan Jalan…Ohhh.
I have eaten kilos of rice, washed my hair in the river and in the kamar kecil, washed my clothes in the river and at the keran (watertap) and because I was brought up catholic, attended three masses in two weeks.
Also watched the favorite Voice of Indonesia and Anak Jalanan soap on television, if there was power. And became very famous because of my swimming skills, and that performance made me long life friends with Feri Very Good.
Luckily I had an Indonesian SIMcard, so I could stay in contact with my family in Amsterdam, because sometimes I felt a bit from another planet. Although the catholic culture was very familiar to me, including all the Dutch names, given by the missionaries, I’m a super Western City Girl.
And as I said to Monica: we have a ME culture, Indonesia a WE culture, without judging!. Also every insect of Flores smelled my fresh blood and stuck me, including some very nasty fleas, but after a change of room, that problem was solved.
But most important: THE CHILDREN!
What a happy, laughing curious and enthusiastic sweeties! Every morning when I appeared at the school grounds, from everywhere I heard: Hello Mrs! Good morning!! It was such a good start of the day.
My goal was to develop creative activities around books. To show that there are many possibilities to work with books, other than reading out loud and be corrected by a teacher. Reading is also FUN! and the children love it.
I found out that the kids liked drawing, but…not creative drawing but copying, so i started to let them finish a drawing of a butterfly (The very hungry caterpillar from Eric Carle) and draw 5 oranges as an assignment.
It really made me laugh when they took a run to the bookshelves to find a drawing of oranges to even copy that.
But they like to move and are very good at sports, so we jumped like a kangaroo, roared like a lion, ran like a horse and made ourselves tiny and quiet like a mouse. All based on doing yoga with children, i took a workshop on the book : Do you want to be my friend? Eric Carle.
The older children learned how to handle a book, and what is the title, author , and so on. Always handy for their further studies. And singing! Wow what a voices. So I learned them the Goodbye song, and heard it through the village the next days.
The librarian was of great help, she could talk to the children so they were ready for the activities, and advised me on which class for which book.
I hope i contributed a little bit. It was very sad to leave my lovely hosts and their neighbours and family. I will write a hopefully practical module about my experiences one can use in the other libraries.
Sampai jumpa lovely people of Werang and terima kasih!
Werang Village, September 2016