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News 8 March 2010

Dear Friends,

Thanks for all your support of the Indonesia Initiative. I am in Indonesia February and March. Just a short note to update you on what has gone on.

Autumn and I traveled in Aceh and the refugee camp for a month. We helped the preschool teachers in the refugee camp, brought teachers from Jaring Halus over the ocean to the refugee camp in the mountains for them to share. We also checked on the chili farming, which was flooded a couple month ago twice, but is coming along well now. We also went into new areas of Aceh that have just been opened up to foreigners. We went to an area that even people from there said we could not get in to do Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) workshops, but we went, got a full workshop, were tremendously supported and welcomed and asked how many more we could do. They are very hungry for new sources of power and paths forward. We were able to visit and spend time with very isolated people and set up a AVP training for facilitators for next month and arrangements to set up a pre-school in Idi Rayeuk. 

We are amaizingly busy. Peter Watson is with me now. Sarah and Nick are in Jogja working on filters. I should get some news tonight, but it seemed to be going well. I brought Peter from Aoteareo/NZ to help with the wood shop blocks. We did a AVP mini for about 35 jr and sr high counselors with some listening companions stuff for a day in Jogja, then drove to Pati, Central Java. Next morning we went 2 hrs to Jepara to a wood shop where we spent two days teaching them about early childhood activities and materials and trained them to make a small set of a dozen blocks to fit into a wooden box as a puzzle. They produced their first box before they left the second day. Then we went to visit a preschool in a rural edge of Pati where their is some deep Islamic fundamentalism. It was touch and go whether they would let us in, but we watched them teach (their day is two hours), then shopped for four hours, Then spent a day and a half cleaning, setting up and teaching them all the activities, then their kids came in Monday from 7-9, then we talked until noon. It was a TOTAL transformation, but they loved it and even the really conservative men wanted pictures with us before we left. They were still stand off-ish, but really happy. Knowing and using some Arabic and Islamic courtesy went a long ways. They have messy play, dramatic play, block play and literacy play areas now and the kids looked like they had done it forever. One of the wood workers came to see what it was like, which was really good. 

Peter is doing two more days with the woodworkers while I set up another pre-school in Jepara. That means the woodworkers in Pati and in Jepara both get to see what we are talking about and interact with the teachers and school leaders. This will be great. They are excited. Most of the woodworkers are youith leaders in their churches as well. In Jepara will be the first Christian pre-school I will do. Until now they have all been Islamic. 

Then we visit Al-Falah School for a day, visit family and we’re back in Aceh next Sunday!!! 

The work is soooooooo rewarding!!!! Every day is like an historic event. Strange to be in world where the meaning and measure of our every action is felt. I believe it is true all the time, but it is not always so felt. 

Much, much love,