East Java Eco Eco Camp 2009

by Mandy Lim Pei Mun

Most of you think that the Sunday is a holiday for all but definitely not for the struggling interns (Pippin, Pasquelle, Yvonne, and me) in Tunas Hijau. We have works to take care of. The Eco camp 2009 has arrived. Sunday on the 21st of June 2009 we departed from Surabaya which is 2 days earlier from the eco camp events. All of us stayed in friends’ home to spend our nights in Malang. We had barbeque fish and mie pangsit. Both of them tasted superbly good.

On the day of eco camp, we took the car to Batu. Batu is about an hour drive from Malang. Batu is situated at the hilly area where the scenery is magnificent and agriculture is the major source of income for the villagers here. All kinds of vegetables are planted here such as cabbage, carrots, apple trees, spring onions, and lots.

The air got cooler the higher we climbed the mountain. But I was sad to see so much land has been cleared for agriculture purposes. I do understand it is for development and something need to be done to feed the growing population of Indonesia which has reached a soaring population of 220 million residents.

One the first day of the eco camp, we did some observation at the conservation area. The participants were divided into three groups; junior high school, senior high schools, and the teachers. Yvonne and I were in charge of the students from senior high school, Pasquelle was with the junior high students, while Pippin was with the teachers. During our observation we went to the source of the Brantas River. Brantas River flows in the city of Surabaya and it is a main source of water for the residents in Surabaya. Though it is safe for consumption at the source, however as it flows down hill it is unsafe for consumption because of the pollutants from agriculture and urbanization. Later that night we had workshop on ‘Brantas River, Artery of Life’. After dinner there were some presentations on ‘Global warming and Climate Change’.

Wow, my GOD! The night was so so cold. I slept in the tent with Pasquelle and Yvonne. We had a sleeping bag for each yet our feet were freezing. I honestly thought I’m going to get a frost bite. Luckily my feet survived. The night was so so cold. We could see our own breath from talking which was so cool for me because I never experience that in my life. Getting cold isn’t what I like as a Malaysian. Malaysia is always warm and sunny.  I miss my country.

On the second day we had some ice breaking games to get to know our group mate better. It was difficult for me to study everyone’s name but I tried my best. Memorizing their names sure built a better relationship.

Then we went for a short walk to the village nearby to interview the villagers on their lifestyle in Batu and the Environmental problems the villagers are facing the last 50 years. The villagers are warm to greet and it was easy to get to know them.

On the same day, we had mural paintings. Pippin was supposed to organize the mural activity. Unfortunately he was busying snoozing in his cozy tent (lazy!). In the late afternoon there were workshop on ‘Forest and Water Resource Conservation’ and a presentation on ‘A way to prevent Global Warming as a Vegetarian’. Then we had dinner and went to bed.

Wow Wow, I thought I’m going to have a restless night again but I was so damn wrong. It was such a lovely night.  My feet were warm. We did some star gazing before we went to bed. The stars were so beautiful. I never see such view since I was a little kid. Counting the stars as I chat with my dad was my favourite hobby. I miss the old good days.

The third day! The day I was waiting for. Now I really miss the city life of luxury and the soft bed. I was eager to get home. We were waiting for the East Java Governor for the ending ceremony. We couldn’t understand much but we enjoyed the performance of traditional dance and songs. We took the governor around the conservation area and the campsite. He visited the source of Brantas River and did some tree planting.

At the end of the day, everyone was very exhausted but we had a good time with all the participants. We took ten thousands pictures with everyone and gave autographs on their eco camp shirts. I enjoyed my time here in the eco camp and would like to thank the Tunas Hijau team for such a terrific experience and their guidance.

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