Heartwarming, little by little

Indonesia’s landscapes and oceans impress. I cannot deny that. But the education system doesn’t. I cannot deny that either. I’m working to change that; please donate to this education-based world record attempt.

This project isn’t an “instant results” type. I quietly labour away on lesson-writing, fact-researching and constructing models, for instance. When the first 1,001 have been done, lessons will be disseminated throughout Indonesia. That’s when you’ll see public results. In the meantime, anyone who donates GBP 20 or more qualifies for a campaign reward. Take a look.

I started producing environmental education lessons in 2015 in central Borneo. There, I recall spending 45 minutes explaining to a class of high school students what a simplified food chain is. The local teacher and a bystander translated in 2 languages. I drew on the whiteboard. I enacted things. Then I asked via the translators, “What is a food chain?”

A youth introduced to me as one of the smartest boys in the school answered. What he said made me realize the problems in central Borneo resemble those nationwide. “Chicken is delicious!” he exclaimed, wide-eyed and grinning as if expecting a prize.

The biosphere is being destroyed here, as I allude to in the project’s fundraising campaign. I speak out and am routinely encouraged by local biologists and conservation volunteers. But most fob me off as another foreigner pushing my weight around. However, I have a few positive stories to share.

When I first met one spritely girl, she dreamed of opening a large coal mine to supply China and get rich. I spoke to her repeatedly about alternatives, saying real leaders don’t invest in coal. Months later, she sheepishly admitted that she’d changed her mind about a career: she wanted to open an eating house.

I trained a youth to sweep and to separate glass, metal, plastic and paper for sale to a recycling dealer. He battled to remember how to handle the different items, but eventually got the most important of the basics: plastic goes in the bin for plastic garbage collecting. It was good to see.

I explained recycling codes #1 – 6 to a junior school class. Most stared at me expressionlessly, but one little boy’s eyes sparkled as I told the group his village can sell plastic garbage instead of burning it. When he asked if that were really true, I encouraged him to try. It was terrifically heartwarming to hear via the grapevine that he’d been walking his little village, telling everyone about plastic recycling.

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