If you’re ever on any type of deployment or volunteer gig which includes people, human beings, and you’re told not to interact with those people because that’s not what you’re here for, do.not.listen.

You might be someplace to help with infrastructure, deliver medical aid, or work on a conservation project etc., but not hugging or speaking to even one local person is a missed opportunity at creating human connection. How else are you to fathom what someone’s gone through, or what they are in need of? For us to simply enter unknown territory and deliver boxes of food because we want to ‘help’, but don’t want to even attempt to understand how those we’re here to help have come to such a point in their lives to require said ‘help’ is a shittier form of colonialism in my opinion.

To presume that ones physical presence as a result of where you come from (‘First World’) is more than enough and that that alone should speak volumes unto an oppressed or already victimized peoples is probably the massivest load of bollocks I could ever think of. You are present as a result of your privilege. As a result of chance and circumstance. Nothing more, nothing less. As humans its in our nature to feel things, sadness, hurt, anger, love, regardless of where you come from, and that’s the beauty of having a heart isn’t it? Allowing it to feel and permeate into the depths of each others souls without using words. Our hearts speak the same language but more importantly our souls share the same voice x

We visited a few villages today where people who’ve already registered with SKT come to pick up their boxes. Each person is notified beforehand be it via text or word of mouth about the upcoming drop-off where they must bring/show a form of ID alongside an SKT registration card. It’s overwhelming seeing mothers with baby in hand, toddler waddling close behind and trying to balance this pretty heavy box on her head as though it’s no big deal, but you know she hasn’t got a choice because that box literally contains her bread and butter until the next drop-off (fyi some of us did carry them all the way home to help because duh.)

Also saw a different side to the cute ickle kids which I think was a bit of a shock to some of the others lol kids are kids no matter where in the world and will forever go mad over sweets. Even more so when they’re from a foreign land and it ended up being super mob-like with a few tears and lots of pushings etc. but I’d like to think everyone at least got something x

Evening ended with visits to local families who suffer from various illnesses or disabilities as a result of the war whom SKT also provide assistance too. One of the men we met was paralyzed from the waist down and suffers from cancer; his 17-year-old son has had to drop out of school in order to tend to his father. Another family had 4 children between the ages of 24 and 30 more or less in a vegetable state literally sprawled across the room unable to walk, speak, eat on their own, absolutely nothing and completely dependent upon their parents for survival. That was hard to see, and again how does one even attempt to console or see the good in that situation. Of course you well up but what good are my tears. You can’t help but be in awe of and make silent dua for the immense patience instilled in mothers and fathers to both accept an expected fate, and do the best they can within their means for the sake of that love for ones family and children.

One more day left and I’m trying not to think about leaving. I’m taking it all in, every second, every persons face I kiss, every embrace and cuddle, and I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to go back and simply define all of this as an ‘experience’ because it’s so much more than that x

 

Suffice it to say I’ve wholeheartedly experienced a mere fragment of the ‘eat, pray, love’ ideology and my ickle soul (which turned 25 today) is at an unprecedented ease.

I went for friday prayers today (jumuah) at a local masjid suggested by my driver. The beauty of faith, specifically Islam for myself, is a comforting sense of familiarity which my heart and soul recognize regardless of language barriers or where in the world I might be. Uttering that initial greeting of peace, ‘salaam’, to someone in Paris or Bali results in that same cheeky grin so as to say ‘hey, you’re one of us!’, prompted by the obvious ‘where are you from?!’.

Driver dearest prompted to explain where the masjid entrance was and offered to walk me in lol but I was like nah, I got this fam, these are my people! Belonging to this international family who is bound together by something so finicky and controversial such as faith and feeling so at home amidst it all is actually quite amazing. I kept my eyes peeled for a hijab and after sharing a few smiles and silent hand gesturing, was directed to the women’s section of the masjid.

A sermon was given in a different language, but when it came time for prayers, there could have been someone present from every single country in this beautiful world and we all would have been in sync. The flow of words and prayers releasing from my mouth and heart so naturally as did the repetitive movements my limbs have executed countless times made me ever so aware of what I was experiencing in that very moment. And then it began to rain. As I stood side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with jilbab-clad Indonesian women visibly shorter than myself, listening to the melodic recitation of the Imam alongside the pitter-patter of young children running across the cool tiled floor, and perspiring with the humidity created by the heavy downpour to my right, I began to tear up. My eyes welled out of pure joy and bliss in being able to live in that precise moment, the essence of which no camera, regardless of how HD it might be, would ever be able to capture; no menu able to satisfy the yearning of my heart and soul.

As I left the masjid, my eye caught someone who was also blatantly not Indonesian. “Do you speak English?!” I asked. He did. yay me! I proceeded to ask where I could find halal food and was directed across the street. Bless his heart for waiting outside the shop for me as I returned from telling driver dearest where I was headed. He helped me order and as a result I ended up having a lovely lunch with a total stranger, on my birthday, in a different country, and it was so outside of my comfort zone that it gave me warm fuzzy good-soul feels x

My special day is nearly over on my side of the world. Today wasn’t about chocolate cake or how long my eyelashes would be or receiving tangible gifts to ring in being another year older and (hopefully) wiser. It was about so much more and I wouldn’t have had it any other way x