Kashi is exceptional. She comes from a city of aproximately 10,000 people on an island where more than 36% (1) of adults can not read or write. She lives in a country where less than 23% (2) of the population has the privilege of continuing their education in University, and the average student leaves school by the age of 13 (3). Yet she has risen above the average. She worked against the odds to complete her high school education where she was at the top of her class. Now, she is studying with MSI's teacher training program TransformNation (TfN) and when she is finished she will be in the top 13% (4) of educated Indonesians, graduating with an education degree, and trained beyond what University has to offer in leadership skills, creativity, and discipleship.
Last week I had the opportunity to travel to her city and meet her family. I had never travelled to the island of Papua before and when I stepped off the plane it was like I had crossed boarders of time and place. The airport was small and primitive with no walls, and an x-ray machine that looked as though it had last been used in the '70's. Yet, this airport is a lifeline to this fly-in community. There are no roads that lead here, everything from vehicles, to building supplies, to milk has been flown in.
I scanned the room for something familiar and was greeted with sights of chaos, and a man essentially naked except for a traditional penis gourd. And then I saw it. Across the room stood a man wearing an Edmonton Oilers hockey jersey (right next to the man wearing only the penis gourd). Being a Canadian I am an obvious fan of hockey, and any jersey sighting would have made me smile, but this was not just any jersey, this was my team! I may have been standing in the Papuan Highlands, but I no longer felt so out of place.
I spent the next few days visiting our Mustard Seed International sponsored school, meeting and working together with the Site leader and the school administration. The site leader, Rasi, had grown up on another Indonesian island in a MSI sponsored orphanage. Each day he gives back to the youth in his care.
It was while visiting the school that I had the chance to meet Kashi's parents. They live just down the road from the MSI school where Kashi had the opportunity to complete her high school education. It is there that she was recruited to join TransformNation, our teachers training program on another island. Her father passed away when she was a young child, and her mother, a homemaker who grows food for her family in her garden, remarried. Her stepfather works construction to provide for his family. Kashi and her 3 siblings grew up in a small, humble home. Her parents are filled with hope for her future and thankful for the opportunity she has through TransformNation (TfN).
Kashi dreams of “seeing my city led by local Papuans who fear God. To realize this dream, Papua needs high-quality Christian teachers, and I am excited about the possibility that TransformNation has provided for me to play a role in Papua’s transformation”.
This place tells the story of Mustard Seed. Rasi was influenced by the love and leadership of Mr and Mrs Sendi at the MSI orphanage he grew up in. Now he is faithfully serving in leadership at another MSI site where impacts the lives of hundreds of youth for Christ through education each year. Select graduates from the school Rasi leads are training through TfN to be exceptional teachers. In August TfN graduates recruited from yet another island in this beautiful country, will join Rasi at this school, having competed their training and fully ready to serve as Christian teachers.
A few days later I am at the airport once again ready to travel back to the island I call home. I say goodbye to the cooler air, the mountains, and the nearly naked man selling spears to passengers, and board the plane. My heart joins Kashi in her prayer for “the people in Papua who still live in darkness” and I look forward to returning to this place
1. www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/Indonesia.pdf2. wenr.wes.org/2014/04/education-in-indonesia/