By Andres Rico, Stijn Segers and Vinu Narayanan: MBA Volunteers from Vlerick Management School, Belgium, August 2011
Little imagination seemed to be required to picture a celebration day like Indonesian Independence Day. Many years had passed and with these many celebrations in the valley between Mounts Agung and Abang in Daya hamlet at 950 metres elevation above sea level. But this time, as the summer of 2011 announced itself as a promising and inspiring gateway to the future of Desa Ban, the stakes for this years’ event grasped everybody’s attention, from the school children practicing their role play in Cegi up till David Booth himself organizing logistics for all 30 formal invitees that were thrilled to come and visit the celebrations this year. Not only did we witness the first two student graduates ever being accepted in Ganesha University, Jati Artana and Wayan Lias, we were also delighted to meet Claire Shipman a new visitor to EBPP, ABC reporter, at the annual celebrations together with both her children.
We, Andres (Columbia), Stijn (Belgium) and Vinu (India), are 3 international MBA graduates, volunteering with the EBPP during the summer on a triad of micro-finance, ecotourism and enhanced marketing through social media, the independence day would mean the summit of our project before graduating one week later at Vlerick Management School in Belgium. On top of that, EBPP’s Music programme coordinator Maria Yeni would take all her extraordinary effort and drive this day to the best ever performance during this celebration, coordinating more than 20 performances including more than 200 children.
As we went to Desa Ban on the day before the celebrations together with the music crew, we were surprised that relatively little more had been set up than a cloakroom tent and some signs of an incubated stage. We offered to assist where possible and we soon found out the hardship of a scorching sun at the slopes of Mount Agung. With little ado, the crew of Bali Dekorasi, the tent rental company, and the senior students and school staff took on the work with steady pace to erect a complete pavilion on the previously empty sandy riverbed. Only a few minutes later, we experienced the collectivity of such a motivated workgroup. Team spirit, cohesion, direction and perseverance, … were some of the management proverbs that one could spell in astonishment of their work progress. With little linguistic needs, we could help where European heights were welcomed. Rapidly we were proclaimed as part of the ‘Bali Dekorasi’ but little was our contribution as soon as the level of coordination increased. Taking a break from the sun, the team continued and set up the entire stage, guest tent and grandstand within less than few hours, completely decorated and installed with sound system and lightning check. Only small proof of a great national pride that was driving every single one of them…
As the night set in, the repetitions started to consolidate the atmosphere in a relaxed and enthused gathering of school children and parents. Some shacks were already set up to serve as food stalls for the next day and everybody found their place around the gleaming stage. After work, dinner was blessed and shared amongst all attendees in groups of 6, sitting around one sheet of paper on the ground. Few times had we eaten fresher food than on that same night. The chicken we tasted was so fresh one could not imagine to eat in Europe and the gratitude was likewise contemplating a different planet. As we looked up into the cloud of elucidating stars in the Milky Way, we felt more humble than we ever felt. This was a good day, and the night celebrations and felicitations to Komang Kurniawan’s (EBPP Chairman and Team Leader) birthday inaugurated a beautiful shiny Independence 66th Indonesian Day.
After a short night on the concrete floor of the EBPP’s Bamboo Centre, we were woken up by the sheering voices of the school children running down from the mountain slopes. At 7am, we were already the last ones to arrive when hundreds of children and families had already gathered around the Indonesian flag for the morning salutations.
It’s needless to say that every view of the student cohorts were astonishing to watch on the backdrops of Mount Agung’s slopes. As the gathering gained momentum, the Indonesian anthem was inaugurated by the chanting of all attendees. Only little time ahead, a familiar sound echoed through my head as the Dutch phrase “Indonesia… ik hou van jou (Indonesia, I love you)” was chanted through the speakers. Just there, I felt the connection that brought us all together.
The marvelous performances that day, astonished all invitees, being it the sponsors, like Bali Dynasty, Coca Cola or Bali Epicure, or the honored guests like Claire Shipman; we all were overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude as the Pengalusan and Cegi graduates sang their self-composed (supported by the talented Maria Yeni) “Thank you” song, “You came along”, as a token of appreciation of the continuous support of all donors and sponsors. Even more moving to see, were the dozens of young talented children that were clearly ready to aspire big… big dreams. Let me finish by promising them that “we are here to welcome you, just as you welcomed us on this beautiful day !” Congratulations to all of you…