Table of Contents

2014 • Indonesia Peace Team, Vydia Sutton

Community Visiting, 

4 April 2014 

Over a long day we visited friends in diverse communities around Pati, Indonesia. 

All of the areas in this Travel Log are visible on this map: Pati, Tondomulyo, Jepara and Kudus. Click on the image to go to Google Maps where you can pan and zoom in and out.

We first visited the conservative Islamic farming community of Tondomulyo which is recovering from record flooding. Sunhadi (Sun) and Zumrotin (Zum) welcomed us into their children Udin, Aghus and the baby. On the walls we could see where the flood waters had risen about one metre inside the house and swept away the papaya trees in their courtyard.

The flood hit three days before the rice harvest so the community lost two seasons of food and cash crops and could not live in their homes for a month until the flood waters receded. Many families moved into the top floor of the school. Sun worked to help all these families, insisting that everyone share whatever food they had and eat together. Some days he travelled long distances to find simple things such as enough cooking oil for the evening meal for 15 families. The old people could not sleep in the school as the bathrooms were downstairs and the steps were slippery. They chose to sleep in their own homes on tables above the flood waters. Sun spoke of his reliance on Zum every day from early morning to look after her dying father, their two young boys and new baby, releasing Sun to care for the group as a whole. It was an exhausting time, yet Zum said the benefits are visible with families communicating better and cooperating.

We next visited a traditional Javanese Samin community in Kudus. We were welcomed by Ganondo’s parents into their shaded home where three generations gathered formally to meet with us. The sturdy and beautifully carved furniture spoke eloquently of these people’s traditions that  have survived intact through the Dutch colonial period and the creation of modern Indonesia.

When we moved on to Ganondo’s home he outlined the basic values of his community: tell the truth; do not take anything that is not yours (even if you know it is not anyone else’s); and do not institutionalise anyone. Children are home schooled, sometimes by a group of parents.

Ganondo spoke of the time their community protected the mountain from being mined to make cement. Some of the men were arrested and badly beaten. Petrus had helped the Samin community during their struggle. In the end the government stopped the mining which would have  polluted their river.

As a way of thanking Petrus, the Samin dismantled an existing traditional Javanese building, called a Joglo, brick by brick and rebuilt it at Peace Place where it is used as for a pre-school, an after school program and a venue for AVP, Trauma Healing and other workshops and training.

We next visited a traditional woodworking Mennonite community in Jepara. Understanding standard measures is an important stage in young children’s development. Several of the woodworkers are highly skilled craftsmen able to make children’s wooden blocks with the precision necessary for these to stack and build uniformly.

Finally, we visited a progressive Islamic pesantren in Jepara. When we arrived, the high school girls were in an evening class studying the Koran. At Nadine’s spontaneous appearance in their classroom, they squealed with delighted surprise and flooded her with questions. We then  visited the head of the pesantren, Nuruddin Amin, who told us there are over 2000 students in the elementary and high school with 200 of these in the religious boarding school. Some of the senior girls joined us later, practising their English conversation skills. The girls seem to be gaining a well rounded education and we wished we had more time to ask each other questions.

Each of these communities are interested in exploring ways to maintain long-term relationships with the Friends Peace Teams, and possibly exchange language learning in longer visits among us to learn more about one another, our commonalities and the diversity in the world.