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27.09.2021 07:23:11 4513x read.
HEAVE L0ve in the Wounded Land (By. Bro. Michael Sidarta, FIC)

Heave Love in the Wounded Land

(By Bro. Michael Sidarta, FIC,)


What is needed for apostleship? Love. Yes, just love.  Apostolic work, especially for the poor, is more than just work to complete a program or project. Work carried out in the spirit of love, devotion, and in the spirit of religion will definitely turn apostolic. That's why our apostolate needs love. Love, devotion, and religious attitudes are what we need to develop. This is what I experienced in Tanjung, West Kalimantan, Indonesia in mid-February 2021. At that time I met with the brothers and teachers at SMP Pangudi Luhur Tanjung with whom I shared the experience of processing or managing our lives.


(Student at Pangudli Luhur Alquino Junior High School doing their simple gymnastic together)

Before leaving Tanjung, the teachers had time to share their life experiences. They said, "We are aware of the condition of our school. Therefore, we are grateful that Pangudi Luhur Foundation still keeps an eye on us and our school. Our children come from poor families. They're not just physically and materially poor but more worrying is the fact that many families are not even aware of the importance of education as a solution to their poverty."


(Teachers and Brothers taking pictures together in front of the building of Pangudi Luhur Alquino JHS in Tumbang Titi)

"Our schools here practically demand more for financial support than providing income to the Pangudi Luhur Foundation. Therefore, we are not too concerned about the salary we get from the Foundation. All teachers and employees of SMP Pangudi Luhur Tanjung do not complain about salary. Our focus is on helping those poor children. We work hard to provide those children with the best of education, according to our ability. We also try to draw them from an atmosphere of indifference to the benefits of education. Most brothers are aware that they have been liberated by the kind of formation they received from Pangudi Luhur Schools. If we hadn't studied at this school, our fate would have been different. We have experienced the love of God in Pangudi Luhur, and  now we have the desire to replicate this love."


(Bro. Frans Jio and two teachers on the bridge to pass through to Tanjung)

I was touched by the fact that in this materialistic era there are still people who live with love, devotion, sincerity, and sacrifice. The encounter of the teachers with poor children made the teachers so moved that they cannot remain indifferent. It wasn't just a physical encounter. Bodies wrapped in the complexity of poverty are like magical echoes that claim the soul. The echo is like ambushing the souls of teachers so that they cannot delay being involved in changing the fate of the poor children. This was also the experience of Mgr. Rutten when he met the poor youth in Maastricht.


(Teachers and student having prayer service together at the Chapel in Serengkah)

The poverty in Tanjung and Tumbang Titi is so real. The forest land used to be very rich. After it was depleted and changed to oil palm plantations, the fate of the natives did not bring the desired change. The trouble is that the palm oil plantations now belong to a handful of people, and the locals just enjoy the crumbs by working as labourers.

It's not just the people who are part of the money machine that owns the palm oil plantations. Infrastructural facilities such as roads are built for the benefit of the owners of the plantations. The streets of Tanjung and Tumbang Titi have never been good. Plantation trucks soon destroyed the recently repaired roads. With roads destroyed, human movement between regions and to the center of government or city is not smooth. All of that makes the poverty of the local population truly appalling. Tragically, many locals have experienced that this situation as normal.


(Bro. Andre Joko Purnomo, head master, and his students)

Though the people are occupying a very rich forest land, they are hurt by human greed. So, formal education in Tanjung and Tumbang Titi is the answer and the FIC brothers are doing their best to ensure that the local people realize their lives and build a hopeful future. For me, only love can set them free. That's what the brothers and teachers at Pangudi Luhur schools in Tanjung and Tumbang Titi wish to accomplish.


[Bro. Michael is the vice Provincial Superior of Indonesia]

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