The second trip to Tomara has brought a new and distinct story. A second visit is likely to offer a sharper view and more fruitful perspective. Those which were previously invisible are often becoming vivid during this time. It was almost a year ago since my first visit to a village located among Bacan Islands, South Halmahera, North Moluccas. Been quite a while, huh?
Time indeed flies. On my way there, and even before the trip actually started, I recalled the faces and names of the kids I was going to see in the village. The may have grown taller and bigger, yet their faces and aura would surely remain the same. I smiled to myself as I visioned the memory of us spending our time together doing silly things last year. It was never hard to make friends with them.
I finally got to the pier in the island. During almost two hours on a longboat with sea water splashing to my face, I already had a vision of meeting the kids for the second time soon.
Wow… I can’t believe they still recognized me. Haha.. as usual, I smiled brightly from ear to ear, and they were shy. I even heard a kid almost shouting “He.. it’s Kaka Monik…” And all I could do was giving my brightest smile.
On the next day, I visitied the school with some books for the library. I talked to the principal and teachers, the topics were mainly about our meeting last year and whether or not I have had a special person. Hahaha…
The kids were no different. They enthusiastically asked me questions and recalled our picnic last year. They happily shared stories about our time together at the waterfall. I responded with the same energy, too. Everyone is excited to recall and share fun memories, even for countless times, I said to my self.
In almost two weeks in Tomara, I had the library open in the afternoon. I was with the children reading, drawing, painting, and doing other fun activities. They played football, too. I may not be capable of being the referee, not to mention being a player. However, they still asked me to join them. 😀
Another activity I introduced to the teachers and kids there is reading aloud. I chose a book entitled “Waktunya Cepuk Terbang” (It’s Time for Cepuk to Fly). I once read the book to students in Grade II when the teacher was absent. And the kids’ responses were beyond my expectation. They were very excited. They even begged me to read them again. Again. And again.
The talk about me reading the book was spreading. Almost every kid requested me to read them stories. It seemed like they haven’t had any meals for days. They were starving. They were craving for something to read to them. I was touched. As much as I can remember, I have read the Cepuk book aloud for around five times. I also managed to read other stories if I had the chance. And I could still see them smiling happily.
One afternoon, I caught two kids with the Cepuk book. One was busy reading the story, while the other demonstrating. I almost shed tears. My happiness was real.
Another side effect is that the book had to undergo plastic surgery for a couple of times. Unlike other surgery, the book needed no needle, it only required duck tape. The surgery was mainly caused by the kids’ carelessly grabbing, pulling and flipping the pages with such a high energy.
From what I had seen in these two weeks, I am confident to say that every kid is excited to hear someone reading them stories. Moreover, kids living in rural areas may have not had this kind of experience.
That feeling of seeing their responses when someone read them stories and asked them to participate is beyond compare. It is like finally finding a treasure. Or like a dream comes true. Or like having the chance to be greeted by dolphins above the sea’s surface.
Making kids happy may be hard and full of challenges. However, I have learned a lot from my dear little friends in Tomara. The source of happiness may come from simple things which are familiar to the eye.
When Cepuk finally flies, kids understand that every achievement needs learning. Attempting. Not giving up. That may be what they have in mind. They can achieve what they dream to be. They are content. They are happy.
Tomara, September 2016