It was beyond exciting to be in Labuan Bajo and start actualizing the dreams to help improve the quality of education in the land of Eastern Indonesia. Beforehand, we were trained on what are needed to establish libraries in Flores. In this particular project, we will be staying in Flores Island for the next 3 (three) years to establish and develop 48 libraries in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara. Our excitement was so real that even on our very first day at Labuan Bajo, we started discussing the project with Monica Harahap, the Project Coordinator who has developed 8 (eight) libraries in West Manggarai for the same project. As for the present phase, the Project Coordinators are me, Dewi Analis, Novia Debi Wicaksono, and Mahrita D Haryati.
On the second day, the new Rainbow Reading Gardens team were introduced to the Education, Youth and Sport Department of West Manggarai. The staff welcomed us, even the famous Manggarai coffee was served. It tastes perfect and great for the stomach (sounds like an ad, haha) After a brief discussion with the Edu Department, one of the staff in TK-SD (Kindergarten- Elementary School) Section, Anton Jeta, provided us with a list of elementary schools with library buildings in West Manggarai. With that data in hand, we started formulating the timeline to visit schools by underlining the indicators which have been set. Such indicators include the commitment of the principals for the program, the availability of library building, the number of students, and so on. The data given indeed lists schools and library buildings established by the Edu Department dated Aug 19, 2014. Unfortunately, it only contains the sub-districts the schools are in, names of the principals, the availability of library buildings and the year of establishment. We found difficulties in mapping the potential schools, as the addresses were not specific.
We started the survey on our third day at Labuan Bajo. The schools we visited first were those located in Komodo, followed by elementary schools in Mbeliling, Sano Nggoang, Lembor, and South Lembor Sub-Districts. Our main guide for the trips was the map of West Manggarai we borrowed earlier from SDN Labuan Bajo 2.
After a number of discussions with the team, we informed the schools we planned to visit to Anton Jeta and asked for his help in drawing the routes of those schools, starting from the closest to the farthest, classified based on sub-districts.
Personally, school survey is one of the the most exciting and challenging activities, as we have no idea how far the school can be, how the road access is, is it smooth, rocky, should we cross rivers, and how steep can the climb be? Also, I am always eager to hear stories from the teachers and principals.
The experiences and memories during the survey include the breathtaking panorama, as well as stories shared by the teachers and principals. Most of them were very open to share the school condition, school activities, curriculum, even their way of life, as well as the economic, political, and cultural condition in that particular area.
Besides having discussions with principals and teachers, we also greeted some students, some of whom felt shy, some even peeped from the window or the door, so the teacher talking to me said, “Ibu Dewi, the kids seem to invite you to the class.” “Oh, that will be great, but what about the class teacher?” I asked. “The teacher is at the Edu Departement Office,” said the teacher. “Okay, then, I’ll be glad to come to the class. Am I allowed to play and sing with them?” I asked her enthusiastically. “Sure, they will be very happy,” she said. I entered the class right after. And they looked very happy. I started to greet them, introduced myself, asked them about their reading interest, favorite books, dreams, and hobbies. Some were very enthusiastic and raised their hands to later share their answers, while some looked very shy. Haha We later played a game about the names of provinces, professions, football players, and others that they were excited to answer about. Then we sang and danced hihihi… They were very talented in singing, with their beautiful voice, even in high notes, clear voice, and their own uniqueness.
We experienced a lot in every school visit. Personally, the trips to schools are very well kept as memorable experiences. The more reality and stories given to me, the busier my thinking is. I often shed tears on my way from the school. The tears were rolling down together with the hopes and prayers to do more for these lovely kids.
The journey is very important, a journey that teaches me a lot. To be grateful for everything I have now, to learn to be stronger and happier under any circumstances, and to learn to paint the Rainbow in Flores. Horrayy!! More Rainbows are to come in the Land of Flores.
Labuan Bajo, 09 November 2016