A Journey to the West
By Teacher Elly
TransfomNation (TfN) Director
I visited the most western part of Indonesia where an MSI partner school is located.
I met with six TfN interns who have been serving children there for the past two years.
After two thrilling days of travel by jet plane, passenger boat and a small canoe, I finally reached the village where six of our TfN interns are ministering. Truly, Gapanau Island is where beauty and perils collide.
I experienced nausea on the high waves of Sumatra. TfN interns (Mark, Joy, Maria, Hetra, Aflen, and Isaiah) have shown great determination in a sea of hardship. They have had to adjust to living with only two hours of solar-powered electricity each day, staying awake in the middle of the night to download teaching materials online in the only window of time where the internet exists, and crossing rough waters for seven hours to get food supplies. But in the midst of difficulty, their biggest challenge is convincing the community how important education is for their children.
My first impression of the children on Gapanau Island was their hunger for love and care, especially from adults. Most of their parents have had to leave them for months to farm on another island. The children who are left behind have to survive and live without parental care and supervision. For example, there’s a student in Grade 1 who often misses class because he has to cook, feed his younger siblings, and manage household chores. He doesn’t have the luxury of time for education. Unfortunately, these situations are far too common, and have resulted in a prevalence of thievery and child marriage in the community. Without the presence of school and teachers, many children were left malnourished, uneducated, and illiterate.
Our female teachers have gone the extra mile by taking in and caring for a three-year old girl during the week so she can attend school because her parents live far away. They want her to have the opportunity to learn and flourish in a safe environment where she is nurtured and loved.
The challenges are real. Kudos to the hard work and patience of our TfN interns. I had the chance to observe them while they were teaching and talk to each one of them personally, sharing about their struggles and hopes. Whenever they feel discouraged, it’s their love for the children that strengthens them. Above all, they know how desperately the children are in need of love, from them, but most importantly, from God.