Filming for Kiva, Indonesia TAKE ONE
Where to begin? These past couple weeks in Indonesia passed by so quickly I don't even know where to start...
I suppose my journey in Indonesia began with us landing in Jakarta. Once landed, we had to spend a few hours sleeping at the airport before we made our way to the local train station. To all those who are considering staying at the airport or the train station overnight, make sure you choose the airport, because the train station was a bit sketchy. Luckily there was a Dunkin Donuts (which I ironically never go to in the States) where we took refuge until the train station opened for business. After much rushing, stressing, arguing and bartering, we finally made it to our eight hour train ride to Cilacap. By the time we reached Cilacap and were greeted by the friendly faces of Christina and Arda, we had already been 27 hours in transit. There was only one word looming in our minds - and that was the word "shower". After a restful night, we woke up bright and early to meet our new colleagues at the local micro finance institution, Yayasan Sosial bina Sejahtera or YSBS.
Sign for academy at YSBS. Photo credit: Yungkit
View of YSBS from the road. Looks like a ship doesn't it? Photo credit: Yungkit
On the street taking the above shot of the YSBS building. Photo credit: Yungkit
YSBS itself is located in the town of Cilacap, inside a school that they had built many years ago - a Marine Academy. As you approach the building, you can see that at the top there is a ship bridge so that the students can go through ship simulations for their training.
Rooftop of YSBS, view of academy bridge. Photo credit: Yungkit
Bridge area for students to practice. Photo credit: Yungkit
Its actually a full bridge simulation here. Photo credit: Yungkit
Rooftop filming. Photo credit: Yungkit
Rooftop of YSBS, struggling with tripod. Photo credit: Yungkit
The building has many floors - the first three are classrooms for the students, the fourth is for the YSBS staff, the fifth to seventh are a sort of hall for special celebrations and graduation ceremonies.
Hall at YSBS for big ceremonies. Photo credit: Yungkit
But the top of YSBS is the most beautiful part complete with a 360 degree view of Cilacap. You can see families washing their clothes on their rooftops, children on the school playgrounds and people just going about their daily lives. There was also a pleasant wind up there that made you forget about the scorching hot heat that we have gotten to know in SE Asia.
View from YSBS. Photo credit: Yungkit
View of Cilacap. Photo credit: Yungkit
First, we have Christina, our translator and the legal representative of YSBS. Dedicating her life to work for an NGO, there is no doubt that the work she has done has helped countless individuals improve their lives. She gave up a job in the hustle and bustle of Jakarta to work at YSBS and help further develop and grow the beautiful city that she was from.
Dearest Christina from YSBS. Photo credit: Yungkit
Second, we have Arda, the Kiva coordinator for YSBS. Only a year into his job, you could immediately tell that he was a good guy with a good heart, keen to helping those around him. What made it extra fun to work with Arda is that he has a special interest in photography and video-making. Without him, a lot of the shoots really wouldn't have been possible, which I will explain shortly...
Awesome Arda. Photo credit: Yungkit
And then, we have Father Charlie. Even if I wrote for 20 pages on this blog, I would not be able to sufficiently describe what an incredible man this individual is - a selfless person who is responsible for the building and continuous growth of the area of Cilacap. When people hear the country Indonesia, they usually think of two destinations - Jakarta, the largest city, and Kuta, Bali the beautiful beach side resort town. But the town of Cilacap, located in the Central Java region, is not well known by the international community. It is an area that is located on the southern side of the island, near the Indian Ocean.
Father Charlie and the map of the Cilacap region showing the areas which YSBS has had projects. Photo credit: Yungkit
Father Charlie arrived in the Cilacap area almost 40 years ago from his homeland of Dublin, Ireland. Back then, the area had no paved roads and transportation was limited to boating or walking. He began with smaller missions like starting medical service clinics and organizing work-for-food programs in the rural fishing villages. Father Charlie always knew that he wanted to go to an impoverished area and make a difference in the lives of the poor, and that is exactly what he has done here. He never went to these villages and told them what they needed from a first world perspective, rather, he listened. He listened to what the villagers felt they needed and that's what he would help them to accomplish.
Father Charlie and I. Photo credit: Yungkit
Father Charlie has been profiled by many news organizations, NGOs, and local TV stations but he only ever used this fame to find more grants to help more people.
Another factor that made Father Charlie an even more awesome individual is his stance that everyone is deserving of help, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Over the last 40 years, Father Charlie has worked tirelessly to encourage inter-faith dialogue between the Christian and Muslim communities in Central Java to ensure that both groups can work together to help those in need.
Father Charlie and I - holding his award for humanitarian efforts from the Muslim community
Muslim community award to Father Charlie. Photo credit: Yungkit
So far, YSBS has built five schools for students, three of which are supported with Kiva loans. Even though some of these schools are Catholic schools, students of any religion can attend, and teachers of any religion can teach. He seems to champion the old phrase, "can't we all just get along?" He thinks we can and I'm inclined to believe him after what I've seen here in Cilacap.
His congregation has grown from just over a thousand to over eighteen thousand Christians in the area. We filmed Father Charlie at mass on a Saturday evening - the Church was packed. We watched as his congregation listened intently to his sermon and teachings. The love that this community feels for Father Charlie is palpable and even more evident when watching him interact with his congregation.
Church service. Photo credit: Yungkit
Father Charlie blessing kids. Photo credit: Yungkit
Church service offering, Photo credit: Yungkit
Filming in church. Photo credit: Yungkit
Arda was an awesome help in Cilacap. Photo credit: Yungkit
I don't want to fill in this blog with too many details of him, but if you would like more info on Father Charlie and his work, you can check out this website http://www.oblatemissions.ie/news/the-nazarene-rte-1-at-10.30-pm-sunday-may-15th.html and the video on it. It is obvious that Cilacap and the surrounding area would not have grown into what it is today without him.
Father Charlie kidding around with us. Haha. Photo credit: Yungkit
On one of our days interviewing Father Charlie, he told a joke to Yungkit - one we will all certainly not forget. We were talking about the need for equality between men and women, especially in a place like Indonesia and he told us this joke: "There were two cars, the one in front driven by a woman and the one behind driven by a man. The woman was driving exceptionally slow so the man sped up, going around her. She rolled down the window and so did the man. She yelled out 'DONKEY!' and then man responded with 'b*tch!'. Seconds later, the man hit a donkey in the street. The moral of the story being that men don't listen and even when they do, they don't understand". Yungkit seemed quite amused by the story. Me? Not so much. Although I can't quite figure out why... We got that joke on tape - I'll be working it in somehow.
Father Charlie at Church service. Photo credit: Yungkit
Both of us feel very fortunate to have been able to meet this man. People often ask the question, "how much can one man really do?" The answer is, "a lot".