Good times in the jungle!
So, we’ve clocked up almost five months on the mountain and all things considered, life is pretty good.
There have been some real highlights over the past month – none more significant than the much-anticipated delivery of our sea freight. It took just over four months to travel the 2000km between our home town of Townsville and our little mountain community up here in Tembagapura. Needless to say, the massive stack of boxes that descended upon us on Monday 20 April was a sight for sore eyes…and a source of sore backs!
After a fairly solid week of unpacking, we now have ourselves a home that’s comfortable and full of familiar things. Happy days!
Speaking of happy days, the kids were thrilled with Pajama Day at school recently – one that saw a couple of regular morning rituals (dressing and grooming!) dispensed with, resulting in a pleasant change of pace.
That same week at school, and indeed in the whole community, we celebrated Hari Kartini or Kartini Day. The day honours Raden Ajeng Kartini, a young Indonesian pioneer in the area of women’s rights. Born into a wealthy and intellectual Javanese family on 21 April in 1879, Kartini was lucky enough to attend school up to the age of 12, an honour rarely bestowed upon girls of that era. Once Kartini turned 12, she was ‘secluded’ at home in preparation for an arranged marriage. During seclusion, girls were not permitted to leave their parent’s home until they were married, at which time authority over them was transferred to their husband. Somewhat unconventionally, Kartini’s Father allowed her to continue to educate herself at home during her twelve-year period of seclusion. Kartini chose to pursue interests in European feminist thinking and the emancipation of indigenous Indonesian women who held very low social status and had very little access to education. She also became a prolific and published writer on the same subjects.
Kartini’s arranged marriage took place when she was 24 and saw her become the third wife of a forward thinking aristocrat, 26 years her senior. He was uncharacteristically supportive of her desire to improve access to education for Indonesian women, encouraging her to open a school for girls at his workplace. Sadly, Kartini’s life was cut short when she died at age 25, following complications resulting from the birth of her first child.
Her many letters were published posthumously in 1911, creating support for establishment of the ‘Kartini Foundation’ which went on to open the first girls school in Java in 1912 and many more since. While it’s true that gender equality remains an issue in Indonesian education, significant progress continues to be made, in no small way due to the early influence of Raden Ajeng Kartini. Her legacy lives on and each year on Kartini’s birthday, Indonesia celebrates the significance of her achievements.
Our school community honoured RA Kartini by dressing in ‘Kebaya’ – a blouse/dress combination style of national dress or ‘Batik’ – a cloth dying technique traditional to Indonesia. Our girls wore traditional local Papuan Batik made in Timika. The children also put on a number of performances designed to honour Indonesia’s national hero – or superhero as Grace called her. The festivities concluded with a traditional Indonesian feast which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the monkey bars are popular among kids in this place!
Following the fanfare of Kartini Day, it was time for much more somber reflections in the form of our local Anzac Day celebrations. Dawn Service at our local club, The Lupe, kicked off at 4:45am and was extremely well organised and attended. We are really blessed to have such a fantastic local community up here, a large chunk of which is an awesome bunch of patriotic Aussies, gathering in the jungle of West Papua to solemnly commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. Dawn Service was followed by a ‘gunfire’ breakfast replete with Aussie Bundaberg Rum and Anzac biscuits.
To top off an incredibly full and busy couple of weeks, we enjoyed a family run in the inaugural Tembagapura Colour Run – an early morning adventure across town which was full of fun and featured coloured powder bombing stations. The kids had a blast, eagerly anticipating each colour station and happily receiving their finisher’s medals – indeed everyone walked away feeling like a winner!
The run wrapped up a very busy but fun-filled couple of weeks in our little mountain town, but it won’t end there. We are super-excited to be receiving visitors this coming week, with Nana and Grandad heading up the mountain to see how the other half (now) lives. Their visit will coincide with a week-long cultural visit conducted by a nearby traditional Papuan tribe called the Kamoro. Suffice it to say, the next couple of weeks in Tembagapura are bound to be memorable ones and we can’t wait!
I’m also excited to say that my Bahasa Indonesia language classes have kicked off with an awesome teacher and a great group of other like-minded Aussie women, all learning new skills and having fun doing it! Wish me luck!
Until next time,
(See you later)