If you don’t know each other, you can’t even like each other – Indonesian proverb
It was a busy day. Filled with meetings and times of sharing and talking. We were welcomed warmly and said a few good byes.
After taking a short time to look around Waingapu city centre, taking a look at the newly built harbour, the market and some monuments our first stop of the day was the Stube-HEMAT Sumba office, located in the building of the Reformed Church (Gereja Kristen Sumba, short: GKS) on Sumba Island.
4 x 4 meters office space, used to organize Stube Sumba and to meet with students. The coordinator and his two team share their responsibility to keep the office open from Monday to Saturday.
Pati, Pastor Dominggus, Apriyanto, Ariani, Yulius
The coordinator, Pastor Dominggus, travels an impressive 60 km through mountainous terrain to get to his office. What that means we discovered later in the day… but we will get back to that.
Right around the corner, in the same building we were welcomed a little while later by the church leader of the GKS, taking time to share with us some of the achievements and challenges the church faces on Sumba.
One of the main issues the church has been active with has been a protest against a proposed gold mine in one of the relatively small forested areas of the island which would cause considerable environmental damage and affect the already limited water resources for generations ahead. Here, the church has been active in lobbying against potential investors from Australia. Once again we touched the issue of inter-religious dialogue which so far has not been a difficulty on Sumba. However, Pastor Alfret Djama Samani highlighted that more and more muslim newcomers, mainly from Java tend to bring more radical views to the island and with that make inter-religious dialogue a more challenging venture.
Before we headed towards Stube-HEMAT Sumba seminar we were welcomed to (climatised!!) classrooms at the Sekola Tinggi Ilmu Ekonomi Wira Wacana college where we were presented with locally woven shawls.
A short presentation of the college by the director Pastor Nurlina gave us some insight into the programmes.
7000 young people finish secondary education each year and are faced with the difficult challenge of looking for college and University training. Most of those young people come from families with limited financial means and rely on the availability of local tertiary education. The college is planning to expand its programmes from current „Business“ and „Management“ to a wider range of study fields. Plans are drawn up already, what is missing is the acceptance from government to run as University and finances to make the dream come true.
Lunch on a bus traveling a mountainous road up into the hills of Sumba… not exactly what you call a comfortable experience.
But, the next meeting was calling us. 1,5 hours later Pastor Dominggus welcomed us to his home in the middle of the mountains.
Hospitality is something else in this country and we got to enjoy fresh produce from the garden of the pastors home.
Of course, we also took a look at the church and enjoyed a time of sharing about the concerns related to the church community.
A small enterprise, building bamboo furniture and other small household items, creates an additional income for Daniel and his family who is a church member also and a STUBE activist. He uses the opportunity of working with school children of a local secondary school to promote Stube-HEMAT whilst teaching them how to work with bamboo.
Yet another welcome awaited us when arriving at the training centre where Stube-HEMAT Sumba is meeting this weekend for a seminar.
A group of traditional Sumba dancers, accompanied by traditional drums, lead us towards the building and dazzled us with their stunning performance, clothes and hair combs.
Meeting with the students from Stube-HEMAT Sumba has been just as energising to us as it was in Jogjakarta.
Lively, interested and dynamic young people showed enthusiasm to find out more about STUBE in Germany, how it works and what makes it different.
An hour spent in small groups gave us and the students time to get to know each other better and explore a wide range of questions. One of the students wanted to know what we thought how the lack of technical advance, as he put it, could be improved on Sumba. What followed was an animated discussion about how much technology is actually needed in a modern world.
Before we got on our way back through the mountains we said an official „Good bye“ to Pastor Tumpal Tobing and his wife Ira, who have become dear friends to us over the past 1,5 weeks.
Thanks was said for caring and going the extra mile to make our stay comfortable and enjoyable. Singing a song for them was a small thing for us but brought smiles to Pastor Tobing and Ira.
And to round off the day, we heard many good byes from almost 30 students… that in turn, made us smile!