By Tri Budiyono, David Booth, and Andrea Telfer
Yesterday, on August 17th 2016 Ban Village and East Bali Poverty Project celebrated the 71st Indonesian Independence Day.
The day began with a flag ceremony at 8.00am. The events took place not in the typical square field where they are commonly held around Indonesia, but rather in a dry river bed due to lack of facility in the remote village. Participants included students from all 6 EBPP schools, EBPP board members, EBPP staff, Ban head village and representative from Karangasem education department, local police and army representatives. The flag ceremony took place with solemn, flag went smoothly, however, the ceremony became very animated when singing the Indonesian National anthem.
We also had two special guests joining us: Volunteer photographer and videographer from Canada-based Photographers Without Borders were in action bright and early up until the closing ceremony at 3.30pm. During the next 2 weeks they will be documenting all of EBPP’s work to produce a series of stunning and distinctive images.
The morning was exciting and packed with action. Kids from elementary and junior school were in competition doing potato sack races, chess competitions, and 100m races. Squeals of laughter and faces with beaming smiles crowded the dry river bed. It was a perfect start to the day that everyone looks forward to each year.
Performances took place next which included musical acts, Balinese dances, and EMpower drama skits. Our high school students excelled in their drama performances this year with sketches they developed from the main modules of their EMpower extra curriculum programme from July 2015 to June 2016. Starting with a short but very clever drama based on their computer literacy module, our Manikaji students in 7 minutes proudly ‘gave a class’ to 5 ‘neighbours’ who wanted to learn all computers and covered their 12 3-4 hours classes brilliantly. The message they were sending to the audience was that by EBPP teachers empowering them, they have a duty to share their new knowledge with other less fortunate people and become the “agents of change” they committed to be at the start of their EMpower programme.
Finally, and with uncontrollable excitement, everyone rushed over to watch “Pangat Pinang”, a classic Indonesian Independence Day event. Two poles were erected in the field, one for the students and another for the rest of the community. The groups of men stood at the bottom of the poles and tried their best to climb them using one another as stepping stools but sliding down each time since the poles were lathered in butter. It was entertaining for everyone, participants and spectators, with cheers and laughter and screams coming from all directions.
Indonesian Independence Day is special for every Indonesian but, for those in Desa Ban, this event represents something even more than their country’s independence. It gives them a chance to come together as a community and enjoy the time they have, and to evaluate how far they have come over the years.
“There was something different in my heart, my heart felt shaky and proud to see all this, to see a society who lives in a remote area and far from development, but they remain proud to sing Indonesia Raya (Great Indonesia) song, with all their limitations. After 71 years of independence, they are not yet completely free, they are not free from poverty, they are not free from their lack of education and health facilities. But they are on the right path to achieve that.” – Tri