Relationship Building

OUR GOAL: To work alongside local people to combat poverty and lack of education.

The tiny village of Gunung Jauh lies nestled high on a mountain cut off from the rest of the world. The residents are few, numbering less than two hundred. Villagers remain isolated from the modern world. Up until the mid-1990s they didn’t even have access to machine made clothing and wore homespun garments. Many have never seen a car. They exist in incredible poverty and have little access to education. The government assigns a teacher to the village but she is often unable to come because of prohibitive travel costs and terrible road conditions. School age children frequently dress in their uniforms and wait for a teacher who never arrives.

Ari is a local man with a passion to bring much needed attention to issues of poverty in the area. A little over a year ago, Ari and a group of his friends heard of this tiny hamlet and, as off-road enthusiasts, decided to make a visit.  Although the village is geographically near larger towns the journey took many hours because the road had disintegrated and was nearly impassable. On their first attempt they only made it about two-thirds of the way despite driving heavy-duty, off-road vehicles.  They were forced to hike the last kilometer. Ari and his friends were deeply moved by the poverty they saw. They had brought a few cases of drinks to share and saw the villagers carefully save even the empty bottles and boxes to reuse later. They resolved to raise awareness about the plight of these villagers. Ari planned several subsequent journeys to Gunung Jauh. On each journey the villagers were eager to receive anything Ari and his friends could share.  Once he was even able to bring some local government officials.

Ari and Wayne, a Solbon worker living in the area, have been friends for nearly six years. An initial shared enthusiasm for soccer has led to an enduring friendship. Just a few months ago, Ari invited Wayne to go with him to visit Gunung Jauh. Ari hoped that Wayne, as a foreigner, could bring even more attention to the desperate needs of these people. Wayne couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit such a remote village. Together with a group of ten other friends they set off one morning for Gunung Jauh. The group hoped to highlight the poverty of the people and put pressure on the local government to guarantee a teacher for the children in the village. As anticipated, the journey was arduous. Several times they had to stop and use winches to move their vehicles forward. Ari believes that off-roading is more fun when you have more challenges to overcome. Wayne recalls looking down at steep cliffs below and deciding he didn’t need any more of this type of “fun” in his life. They arrived in the village just after dark.

The following day was full of activities. The visitors had come prepared with art supplies, embroidery thread, and other treats for the residents. They taught the children how to draw a seaside scene using drawing paper and pastel crayons, organized fun relay races and played several other games. They also taught the ladies how to embroider and showed a movie for the whole village using a projector. The citizens of Gunung Jauh loved it! Wayne, Ari, and the whole group had many opportunities to talk with the villagers and get to know them. The village parents were particularly appreciative of the gestures of love the children received. When it was time to leave the whole village came out to send the visitors back down the mountain. The group later learned that one of their goals had been accomplished. The trip drew the attention of the government and the teacher assigned to the village. Shortly after the group left the teacher resumed teaching in the village. Ari and his friends hope that eventually the government may offer a subsidy to help the teacher with the cost of teaching in such a remote location.

Here at Solbon we love opportunities to partner with locals in bringing education and vital resources to small villages like Gunung Jauh.  Want to get involved in supporting projects like these?

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