I meant to post about my project at Satunama on Wednesday evening, but thanks to James Dolan, I’ve been busy mourning the loss of Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets. Enough said on the matter. More importantly the Yankees are 9.5 games ahead of the Red Sox (#sorryimnotsorry Colin).
But my life in Indonesia revolves far less around sports than my life in America does. Britto and I have been busy at work at Satunama. We spent Tuesday reading about the history of Mount Merapi and researching the impact of sand mining on the livelihood of communities living on the slope of Merapi. The sand mining industry in Indonesia rakes in about 3 billion Rupiah a year, which is approximately $300,000. $300,000 is a lot of money in America; enough to comfortably pay for a Haverford education. But in Indonesia, it is a large fortune. In order to mine the sands of Merapi corporations must have a permit from local and regional authorities. In the past, the Indonesian government has sent the military to shut down illegal mining operations. In 2009, over 3,000 miners lost their jobs when the government shut down an illegal mining site in order to protect the environment.
On Wednesday, Britto and I went with Pimbo and Metta (another member of Satunama) to the site of a mining operation located on the banks of the Pabelan River at the base of Mount Merapi. The villages of Sengi and Kapuhan are located next to the river: Kapuhan to the North and Sengi to the South. They draw their water resources from the same reservoir, which happens to be located in the middle of the mining operation. The mining site donates sand to the two villages (and many others) to help them rebuild their homes, which were damaged by the 2010 Merapi eruptions. Satunama has helped implement irrigation programs in Sengi and Kapuhan, and is concerned about the impact of the mining operation on the villages’ water reservoirs. The sand mining operation is helping the villages rebuild their homes for free, but Satunama is worried that the miner’s will destroy the water reservoir if they continue to dig. In the upcoming months and years, the villages are going to have to make a complicated choice: rebuild their homes with free, high quality materials, or protect their water resources. Next week Britto and I will spend a few days in Sengi interviewing members of Sengi and Kapuhan about this situation, and how their lives have been effected by the Merapi eruption in 2010.
My host family official begins fasting for Ramadan tomorrow. I think I am going to try and wake up at 3am to eat breakfast with them. Or maybe I just won’t go to bed. Even though I have a propensity for staying up late when I am at Haverford, I haven’t really had to many late nights in Indonesia. The semester is coming up though, so perhaps I should start getting back in the late night groove. Anyways, tomorrow (Saturday) I have the day off. I plan to sleep late (9:30am is late here!), and then explore Jogja. Jalan Malioboro is 4km away and I hope to spend some quality time with the Batik vendors. In the afternoon Britto and I plan to visit Satunama’s youth empowerment program in the villages near the landfill. I am not really sure what to expect, but I promise to take and upload lots of pictures of the visit!
That’s all for now. It’s dinnertime in Indonesia and I have a delicious meal of tempe, rice and soto waiting for me.