“Kashi’s parents just wanted her to move home, get a government job, find a husband, and be done with the international program she was involved in. They didn’t see why she would be living way out in a Papuan village surrounded by threats and challenges.”
When I flew over the jungles in 2004, I thought I was travelling to the ends of the earth. It was a place where girls were expected to marry young and where the natives still fought their tribal wars with machetes.
I just happened to be thinking of Kashi, Harta, and Tirta, from Class A, finishing their 4-year internships at schools in those jungles, wondering how it was that they coped, when my phone chirped, and I had a site leader texting me from those very Highlands.
He was ecstatic because Kashi had just signed a long-term contract to continue as principal at a school of 115 kids in the middle of that jungle. Here’s how his text went:
Last week our high school boy’s basketball team was playing in a tournament in the Highlands. Each day they made the 5-hour round trip on trail bikes. Friday, we found out Kashi’s father was extremely sick. Because her parents lived right next to where the tournament was being held, the team decided to take her along.
My son is on the basketball team. He told me how amazed he was at the tenacity and courage she demonstrated in the face of so many problems at her school. A local boy shared: “Single women small and skinny like Miss Kashi are not respected in Highland culture. We boys are big and strong, but when she speaks, we all stop, listen, and obey. She has our respect.”
When the team got to Kashi’s parents’ house, they prayed for her father. After the tournament, her parents invited the team back for coffee. Her parents began to see the difference their daughter had made on these teenagers. This was a turning point. They began to understand the transformation she was helping to bring about in her role at a school in the middle of a jungle village. They released her to her calling.
Two days later, Kashi signed the contract as the principal of that school.
And she’s become a village hero.
The TfN program is not only transforming the lives of the teacher trainees and their students, but their families as well! (Lucie Howell – MSI Director)