Oftentimes when you are on the road you see something that moves you. On my recent trip to Bukit Lawang, Indonesia I visited a small, local school. The kids, ranging from pre-school to early teens, were all adorable. They attended a range of classes from general studies to after school English as a second language. But that’s not what caught my attention. What moved me was the emphasis of this school. In an area that is highly important in terms of protecting orangutan habitat and population, the students were actually learning how they could help and be stewards of the environment. In a huge juxtaposition, the area is also known for its palm oil plantations, a practice that is actually doing the orangutans the most harm through habitat loss and harmful crop burning.
I was amazed as I sat in on a lesson about sustainable fishing and again when I saw how they had actually made notebooks from scratch, recycling the paper for the notebooks themselves. The kids were also being taught about proper nutrition and were encouraged to eat healthier through small initiatives like Fruity Fridays where fresh fruit is served as opposed to the high fructose corn syrup drinks served in plastic bags that some of them have become accustomed to getting at local food stalls.
It was a real pleasure and quite refreshing to see this small team of local teachers and one volunteer leading the children. But I was also saddened to see the condition of the school. Some of the rooms had a pretty significant black mold issue. These children and staff members were breathing this in daily. I stayed only a short time but couldn’t stop thinking about what the mold could be doing to my body. What if I worked here and had to breath in this air everyday? What impact was this having on the kids, with their still developing lungs?
So rather than go back home and forget what I saw, I’m trying to solve the problem. I’ve created a Go Fund Me and am working with the school trust to eradicate the problem. If you are interested in donating please have a look at the fundraiser. Of course not everyone will be moved to donate or be able to, but I encourage you to check it out or share. The school also runs partially on volunteers so if you are interested in volunteering you can get in contact with them for more information. The town is so far removed from touristy areas that it seems to be a genuine experience where you can immerse yourself completely in the culture.
I look forward to going back once the funds have been raised and am almost half way towards the goal. Thank you to everyone who has donated already and to everyone who will!