In the past two and half months, I’ve been living in West Flores, Indonesia. If you remember my videos, titled “Flying with Manta Rays (Part I and Part II)”, shot in Komodo Island, that’s where I’ve been spending my days now. Not on Komodo Island itself, but in a small town called Labuan Bajo (it has an airport, so no worries, I still could travel around, if I wanted to!) 😀
Staying in such a small city, which there’s only one main road that goes around the whole city, is a new thing for me. After living in big cities — Jakarta, Amsterdam and Singapore — now I’m experiencing a lifestyle of a small town. There’s no shopping mall, cinema, theatre, spa, bar, let a lone a night club. Suddenly my lifestyle changes in a blink eye. Usually, in Jakarta or Singapore, I meet up with my friends in a restaurant/cafe/bar that’s located in a high rise building and/or spend hours in a shopping mall with full air-conditioned. But this time, I spend hours chilling in a simple local restaurant that ice cream is considered as a luxury thing. A big change, that is.
During my stay here, I’ve met so many interesting people. Different professions from different countries. From local fishermen, scuba-divers, backpackers, journalists, businessmen, lawyers, bankers to a famous French actor! Spending time with people with different characters is one of the things that entertain me every single day. I’ve learned a lot from people’s experiences and always amused by the way their live their life.
However, there’s one person that makes me ponder by what he does. He’s a private yacht captain. Tim Forderer is his name. He’s been sailing all over the world for more than 10 years, going from one beautiful place to another. Many people envy him, of course. But what makes me envy him the most iswhat he does whenever he visits a place. He’s not only enjoying the beauty of the place, but also doing a good deed for the locals. What does he do?
Ok, here’s the explanation. One day, he asked me to join him going to a local school in Labuan Bajo. He needed a translator as he was going to give a presentation for the students. I nodded. To cut the story short, he shared his life story in front of around 150 students and managed to make everyone enthusiastic. What’s so special about this presentation?
He told the students to Do What You Love. By doing what we love, we would be more likely to succeed and “rich”. Not necessarily rich in material, but most importantly rich at heart :). He asked the students to think: “What do you enjoy doing most? What do you love to do in your spare time? What are the things that you’re really good at?”. The answers might lead us to the ideal profession in the future. Basically he wanted to encourage these high school students to do what they love to do and inspire them to make it comes true.
He said, “When I was a kid, I always loved sailing. My Dad taught me how to sail. When I was 8 years old, I won a competition as the best junior sailor in all over United States”. Students got excited. “Also, when I was in college, I won the competition again as the best sailor in the States”. “Whoaaaa…”, I heard them mumbling with amusement…
“In my spare time, I always go on the boat and sail. That’s all I did when I was young. But.. suddenly.. all my dreams of sailing fell apart”. What happened?
“I was 18 years old by then and my girlfriend got pregnant”. Sometimes we have to make a decision, in which, is contrary to what we’d love to do. “I had to drop all my dreams of sailing the world, took the first job I could get and be a responsible father for my kid. Years gone by, I ended up working as a sales person in the same company for 13 years!”
“Then my Dad passed away. I loved him dearly”. Apparently, the death of his father, made him realized that life is too short to be wasted by doing something that he didn’t really enjoy. He realized that he always wanted to sail the world. So, after discussing it with his Mom and family and got support from them, he decided to pursue his sailing career and be a full time sailor! Until now.. he’s been sailing to cool places, such as Galapagos, Maldives French Polynesia, etc etc… and he’s enjoying every minute of it…
In the past two months, he decided to start giving something for the society. How? By giving presentation on Do What You Love and encourage the youth to reach their dreams, also by visiting schools in remote areas and giving some donations — books, pens, medicine, etc. I accompanied him going to 2 schools in 2 different villages nearby Labuan Bajo, Flores. And I’m glad I did. I was so overwhelmed to see the facial expressions of the teachers whenreceiving the donations. They didn’t expect the visit or the gifts! And the kids? Ohhh.. they’re sooooo lovely! They greeted us as if we’re big time celebrities! 😀
The first school was SDK Roe at Roe Village. When we got there, the teachers were having a meeting with teachers from some other schools. We only talked a bit with the school headmaster, before being invited to have a cup of coffee and taro cake (it’s a traditional cake from West Manggarai, Flores) in a cute corner with wooden bench and a stone table under a tree. So cute! What a lovely coffee break! At the far end of the yard, there’s a cute pink house, very clean and neat. It’s a house of the school headmaster. I wonder whether pink is her favorite color! Once I had a dream to have a pink house, but I dropped it down coz I thought it would be too tacky. Hihihi… but the house in front of me was definitely cute, it looked like a Barbie house with a lot of green plants in the terrace :). She definitely lives in her dream house, I thought. And I wonder whether her husband complaint at the first place, for the idea of living in a pink house! 🙂
We continued our trip to SDK Pusut at Pusut Village. We parked the car nearby the school. There were some students playing around in the school yard. As soon as we stepped our feet on the big open space school yard, hundreds of kids running toward our direction! Wowwww… “What’s going on here?”, I thought. Soon after, we were surrounded by hundreds of kids who were starring at us as if we’re aliens coming from planet Mars. Some of them starred at us without blinking, some of them smiled, some of them were brave enough to greet us and said, “Hello…”. We greeted back, “Hello… apakabar?” (apakabar = how are you). It was such an overwhelming feeling to be surrounded by hundreds of kids. I loved it.
The school was having a meeting with students’ parents in a meeting hall. There was an Indonesian Catholic priest, who has been living in Australia for 8 years, sharing his experiences to the locals on his views of living in Australia – the good and sad stories, lessons learned, etc. Everyone, including students on the 6th grade, listened to him carefully. Sometimes they nodded, too. Captain Tim and I joined the session for a while, before taking a walk to the rice field. Surprisingly, when we returned from the rice field, a bunch of teachers had already gathered in a house and they invited us to have lunch together! Wow… so nice of them! They welcomed us and expressed how happy they were to have us there. So sweet, isn’t it?
I felt like I was invited to a small feast. A table full of different local dishes looked very tempting to me. They also gave us a glass of local wine. “Drinking local wine in such a hot day? Maybe not”, I thought. Apparently, serving local wine to guests is part of their culture. It’s a symbol of respect. I tried a sip, but unfortunately didn’t like the taste. It tasted a bit sour, pretty strong, with a bit of coconut flavour.
We had a good time chatting with the school headmaster and teachers there. I asked what was needed for the school. Computer and sports uniform for the school’s sports team were on the top priority list. When we exchanged numbers, I asked the teachers, “Do you have email address?”. They smiled and said, “That’s the thing, Mbak Nila (mbak means sister). We have no computer here, let alone having internet access”. I felt so stupid after asking that question. Shoot!!! Silly girl.
The visits to these schools made me ponder… We could help others who are in need anytime and anywhere. Even when we’re travelling. We could spend a few hours of our trip to visit remote places and plant some good deeds. A small thing for us could mean the world for someone who needs it. Let’s make the world a better place to live in…
I was so glad to witness that good people still exist. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with me, Captain Tim. And thank you for your efforts in making this world a better place for us to live in… 🙂