James Ogilvie – England
This weekend was the time for the Eco-Camp in Mligi village, where around fifty students from Junior High Schools in Surabaya came to the village to carry out environmental activities. Around ten families in the village offered to act as host families for the weekend and provide food and accommodation for groups of students who were attending the camp. Sunday was also an important day for the villagers here, as the major of Mojokerto was coming to visit the village for the first time. Along with the major, over five hundred people were due to visit the village on Sunday afternoon for a prayer event, so preparations needed to be made for that as well.
On Friday (30/10) morning we visited two local schools in Pacet to talk to the children about the environment in our countries and play some games. After returning to the village, we began the preparations for the Eco-Camp, and also for the arrival of the major, by making flag poles from long bamboo poles and tying flags to them to line the road leading up the mountain to the village. Once finished we had about a dozen flag poles planted in the ground, which looked really good.
On Friday afternoon the students arrived and were taken to their host families to see where they would stay for the weekend. Earlier in the day I accompanied Pacoel, a member of Tunas Hijau who lives in Mligi village, to all of the host families to meet them and check that everything was ready for the arrival of the students. They were all very nice and friendly and seemed to be excited about the students who would be staying with them.
After dinner on Friday evening, I gave a presentation to all of the students who were staying in the village, who had remarkably managed to fit in a small room in one of the houses in the village! I spoke to them about the environment in England and, with the help of one of the teachers translating into Indonesian for me, discussed recycling, water, pollution and energy problems that we are facing in England. The students were all really interested and asked many intelligent questions about the things I discussed with them, which I was very impressed with. I later found out that the students here are a selection from all the classes in the school, so only the top few students from each class can come, explaining why they all seemed so interested in the environment in England.
On Saturday (31/10) morning I got up early to accompany the students on a clean up of the village. With the major visiting on Sunday they wanted it to look its best, so enlisted the help of all the students to clean out all the drains and waterways and remove all the rubbish and dead leaves. They worked very hard and the village looked significantly cleaner once we had finished! After lunch some guys arrived to put up a large marquee in the courtyard outside the Tunas Hijau office and the mosque. I was taken to the swimming pool for a break! After swimming, we went with a group of students to an activity centre near the village. They had a large zip line and several climbing activities, which were lots of fun!
Saturday evening was spent in the village, having dinner and relaxing in the village. There have been many times in my life when I wished I could play the guitar, and Saturday night was one of those times. I was hanging out in one of the houses in the village with some of the guys, and someone brought out a guitar, although none of them knew how to play anything. The guitar was passed to me, and the stage was set to impress with my guitar skills… However, all I could really play was ‘Stand By Me’ and the chorus of The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ which, although fortunately they did know the song, none of them seemed too impressed with!
The events on Sunday seemed to go very well, and hundreds of people visited the village from the surrounding area, which was an amazing sight. On Sunday afternoon I packed up my things and headed back to Surabaya. I was sad to leave Mligi village as I had a great time there. Everyone was incredibly friendly and nice to me and it was great to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a week and spend some time in some of Indonesia’s amazing countryside.