There is an interesting story about one of the selected schools, that is Macan Tanggar Elementary School (SDI Macan Tanggar). The school is a part of Komodo sub-district, yet it takes nearly 1,5 hours to get there from the center of Labuan Bajo by motorbike going through quite challenging road access. Therefore, being extra careful is a must as tires may slip and get flattened by the rocks, or even get stuck in the mud after the rain.
Initially, SDI Macan Tanggar was not included in the 12 schools selected for the library development program in the 2016-2017 period, even the MoU signing has been conducted on September 20, 2016 at the Education, Youth and Sport Agency (Dinas PPO) of West Manggarai Regency, East Nusa Tenggara.
A month after the MoU signing, during our visit to one of the selected schools, we found out that the school has received similar donation, which is the library development program, from other parties without prior confirmation from Rainbow Reading Gardens. After thorough considerations, and with the consent from Dinas PPO of West Manggarai, Rainbow Reading Gardens had to call of the cooperation with that school and decided to do school selection to replace the school.
The school selection this time is quite hard. In addition to the main indicators we have to hold onto, we also have to rush with time as the district workshop was only 10 days away from the start of the selection.
One night, during our internal discussion, one of the Project Coordinators mentioned that she received a text message 10 days ago, saying the invitation to visit the school and establish a library at the school. That school is SDI Macan Tanggar. It was 8.30 pm, and we decided to make a call promptly in order to get the school address and inform them we would like to pay a visit.
From the selections, we got 6 potential schools. All the pluses and minuses were calculated, and from the discussion, we came to a decision that SDI Macan Tanggar was to be included to the 12 selected schools. Despite being the last school to take part in the program, SDI Macan Tanggar still has to go through the orderly steps, namely program orientation to the school, school committe, and the community. The enthusiasm of those parties are profound as this is the first donation they have ever received. The principal, Maksimus Mujur and one of the teachers, Saifurrahman, told us that the school has never received any aids or donations.
Pak Saifurrahman once told that when he visited a village called Melo, which had been collaborating with Rainbow Reading Gardens earlier, he asked, “How come that your school get this?”
His friend answered, “Rainbow Reading Gardens came for a survey and gave the donations afterwards“.
Pak Saifurrahman asked, “what are the requirements to receiving the donation?”.
His friend later answered, “Get over it, don’t dream too high! Your school is up at the hill, the road access is far fom good, it is impossible that they will go there. They only reach schools located by the road.”
Getting a bit disappointed of the answer, Pak Saifurrahmad instead kept his hopes up by finding more information on the donations. Asking some teachers from other schools, Pak Saifurrahman was informed that Rainbow Reading Gardens is currently doing a library development Project for 12 schools this year. He was aware that the 12 schools have been selected and MoU has been signed, yet he still asked for the contact number and sent a text message to Rainbow Reading Gardens.
From the story, we can reflect and learn that the endless hope, passion and effort enacted by Pak Saifurrahman can even change the scenario that has been executed. He once said, “just because our school is located up at the hill, with damaged and winding roads, and far from the city, doesn’t mean we cannot make a change, doesn’t mean we do nothing, and doesn’t mean we do not deserve to get help. The important things are high hopes and endeavor, because we are aware that our school is hard to reach and not many people know that there is a school up here, even when they know, not all is willing to come. We are very grateful that Rainbow Reading Gardens is willing to come and collaborate with us in this library development program.”
Personally, I was always very excited to visit SDI Macan Tanggar. I long for the real “heroes”, those who are willing to ride or walk to the hill for the betterment of edication, even the principal lives at the school from Monday to Saturday, and goes home only during Saturday afternoon until Monday morning. This schedule is valid only if the rain does not fall. If rain falls, car and/or motorbike riders only have two options, not being able to travel to school, or not being able to go back home.
Everytime we visit schools, we often have fun while learning with the kids. Their smiles and laughter are hopes. Their radiant eyes are hopes, their little steps are hopes. No need of luxurious cars or shining expensive shoes. Rocky, damaged roads and mud, or the current of the river never discourage them to learn. Nature is their bestfriend, No matter how extreme the sunlight is or how heavy the rain is, they will go to school anyway. School has become their only hope and destination to be a better generation. Reading materials have become the most previliged and most longed for means. May the library development program in the Eastern Indonesia keep going, so that the windows to the world from this land get multiplied and have broader impacts.
Labuan Bajo, January 2017