I have been traveling with my Dad to the Mentawai for 4 years now, which is an island chain off Sumatra, Indonesia. The reason why we have been going to the Mentawai is because of Dad’s business and to go surfing. 3 years ago though, we started to look at how we can help the local people of the Mentawai and we went to find out what they need. We met a cool lady by the name of Lizzie and she was teaching English in a small village so we decided to help her.
There is now a school teaching all these kids how to speak English through my Mum & Dad’s charity, A Perfect Foundation. My mum has been involved with the school ever since it started. There are two teachers called Tom and Karen and they have been teaching at the school for 2 years now. Each year I come back to the school and hang out with the students. In class they learn English through fun games and songs and I learn more Bahasa, so we get to communicate and understand each other.
To get to the Mentawai from Bali you have to catch a plane from Denpasar to Jakarta which is 2 hours. Then another plane from Jakarta to Padang which is another 2 hours. In Padang you would normally stay the night somewhere and in the morning you would catch the Mentawai Fast Ferry which is 3 hours to Tuapajet, the capital of the Mentawai. When you got to Tuapajet you would get another small boat or truck to where you are staying. This trip we stayed at Dad’s friends shack on its own island which was right on the beach, it was awesome!
The first day the weather was magical, so we went surfing and then spear fishing and caught 3 fish. We were traveling with Dad’s friend Luke, who had two kids Jazmine and Zack. Zack and I also swam across a huge channel as Dad and Luke dared us for Rp 200,000 each. It felt like something was going to swim at me from underneath and gobble me up. We finally made it and had a nice, juicy, sweet Kelapa/coconut at another friends place across the channel. We got a ride back on his boat, it felt like I couldn’t move my legs.
The next day we went over to the school for a beach clean-up and outdoor surf movie cinema night. I met a new friend and her name was Reefa, she had amazing English and so did my other friend Muhamad. I felt so happy to be playing and being able to come where I am today and talk to them. All the boys were crazy and I really appreciate having this experience.
2 years ago when my dad took me over to the school when it first opened, it was a bit strange as I was very shy and I felt sad that we couldn’t communicate together. A year later we came back again and checked out the kids English, it was coming together but as I didn’t speak Bahasa it was still very hard to communicate. This year we came back, their English was amazing and now after living in Indonesia for 8 months, I can speak a lot more Bahasa and it felt really good to able to finally connect with them. I love remembering every time we beached the boat all of the kids came on to the beach to see us, the smiles on their faces are the happiest faces I’ve ever seen! They were laughing so much and I feel really good to share so much joy with the kids of Mapadegat.
Another reason that we came on this trip was to roll out more water filters for an organisation called Waves4Water in other remote villages in the Mentawai. In March last year my friend Winter Vincent and I rolled out 30 water filters at a village called Pukayarat and they all loved them so much they were shouting “MORE WATER FILTERS!” “YAY!” So last year we held a fundraiser that Winter came up with called “Surf to School” day. Which is a day when all the students come to school in board shorts and surf gear and give a gold coin donation to buy water filters. My school back in Sydney, Wheeler Heights Public School was able to raise enough money to buy 15 water filters. Jazmine my Dad’s friends daughter who is also on this trip, she raised enough money at her school in Jakarta to buy another 32 water filters. So on this trip we had another 47 water filters to roll out.
On Sunday we got up early in the pouring rain and made a boat ride to Pukayarat where we went to their church. It was really beautiful listening to all the kids sing and the elderly ladies singing with the guitar. But I have to say, listening to all the talking was really boring (for a kid). The church was like a little barn yard and was covered in flowers which made it look really cute. At the end of church, Jasmine and I talked about the water filters to everyone and gave them to the Mayor who would give them to the families who needed them the most. Now 100 families in Pukayarat have access to clean drinking water without having to collect wood, light fires and boil the water in a pot before they can drink it.
While we were there, we learned that the next village wants water filters as well and we have 30 more we can start rolling out there next. However, they will need more than 30 as there are about 70 families so we would need more filters. When I get back to Bali I want to raise more money to get these extra filters for the village and all the other villages that don’t have clean drinking water.
The next day was so wet and rainy that we couldn’t do much, but in the afternoon we went back to the school to do some more classes with the students. The first class I attended was with the little kids and we played games and sang songs, it was so much fun. The next class I attended was with the kids that were around my age about 11 and 12 years old. We played more games and we had conversations in English. I felt really proud of all of them, as they all spoke amazing English and I had so much fun at school that day. Later that afternoon we had an all-girl surf session and it was pretty dumpy, but we found a spot where it was pretty smooth where all the girls were happy surfing until dark. What surprised me the most, was that some girls had never been in the water before they started doing surf school and now they were surfing? Wow, I was astonished they were having the time of their lives.
So as I finish this blog on the plane back to Bali, I think about the last week and the experiences I’ve had. I feel very appreciative of what I’ve seen and learned and am extremely happy to be able to communicate and make amazing friendships with different people from all of the world.If you would like to help as well, you still can by donating on my mum and dads website and maybe come along on our next trip:
Thanks for reading my blog!