My Borneo Friends

In this river village all the houses (and library) are on stilts over edge of river. All photos by Rebecca Hopkins.

In this river village all the houses (and library) are on stilts. All photos by Rebecca Hopkins.

If you came to visit me, I daresay you’d be impressed with several things we get to enjoy here in Indonesia. We have coconut trees in our yard that we use for fresh coconut water in our green smoothies. We get to live among fascinating cultures. And we are honored to be part of an amazing connecting work through MAF.

But one of my favorite things I get to do here is have friends. Indonesian friends. With dreams of their own to make their own community better.

Aini (on the right) with kids from the village.

Aini (on the right) with kids from the village.

Meet Aini. She’s from Borneo, used to work on a boat that would take tourists on nearby rivers. She noticed that the villages on the river—even though many of them were just a few minutes’ boat ride from the provincial capital of Palangkaraya—had few educational resources for kids, like libraries, books, consistent teachers, etc.

So, she decided to do something about it. She made a library.

Traditional dancers during the library grand opening.

Traditional dancers during the library grand opening.

It took a few years of hard work and planning, some key donors, and a partnership with the village’s only college graduate. But eventually, she had built a library on stilts, filled with books and possibilities, with the most amazing view of the river.

Village kids dancing like birds for the library opening.

Village kids dancing like birds for the library opening.

We got to go to the Ransel Buku library’s official opening this week, got to see the kids from the village dance as if they’re birds and sing about bright futures. We got to see the book that Aini, herself a writer, wrote and had published. And we got to meet Fery (the college graduate from the village) who turned down well-paying jobs in bigger cities to stay where he’s from, so he can run the library.

But most enjoyably, we got to just be the friends. The ones who sit and watch Borneo change Borneo.

Evan (dressed as a pirate) and Renea inside new library.

Evan (dressed as a pirate) and Renea Hopkins inside new library.

 

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