On this page: English Summer Camp, Stories of a Lifetime, Kapung Cinta •  Kantong Plastik


Safety Tips for Children by a Child:  

Video by a 6 Year Old

6 year-old Taryn — and grand-daughter of Monica Clarke, author of the book, "They Call Me Hottentot Venus"  — has created a video and facebook page on Safety Tips for Children.  Taryn writes, " Please will you ask children to watch this and to send me their ideas on how to keep safe?"  Taryn woujld like to learn from other chidfren "because we live in different places."


Successful English Language Summer Camp Returning to Moldava





   FOR 2012 CAMP.




This first English Language summer camp for teenagers from low-income families, in Budesti, Moldava in 2011, was supported by SD France, SD Germany, SD Norway, GHFP, SD and SDIA.

In a country where many children are exposed to a high risk of poverty and/or the decline of family structures, the community of Budesti, a small town just outside the Moldovan capital Chisinau, is no exception.

In order to guarantee the economic survival of their families, many fathers and mothers work abroad and some families are barely able to adequately support their children. Depression, unemployment, alcoholism and violence often increase family and social pressure on children and youngsters from the community. Moreover, in Soviet times people came to expect the state to take responsibility for much of their education, employment and human development, which led to a serious underdevelopment of their motivational and self-educative skills. Although this mentality is gradually disappearing, it is still possible to see its legacy throughout the country.

Despite the problems facing the town, the Community Centre in Budesti serves as a lighthouse of what is possible. The Lady Mayor has obviously worked hard establishing links with foreign embassies and getting money for her community wherever she can: although apparently many houses are still without running water, the town has a small health centre, and its own ambulance, as it can take over an hour for medical assistance to come from the city.

The current dynamics of the country economy underline a strong need for qualified specialists able to speak foreign languages, but despite this many children in the Budesti community undervalue the importance of learning English.

It was in this context that Anoushka Evghenia Zotieva, a Subud member in Moldova, decided to organize the first English Summer School for local children between 11 and 14 years old in order to improve the language skills of the children and their teachers, create a space for the exchange of pedagogical ideas, arouse curiosity in children about different cultures, and motivate them to continue learning English in the future.

Three international volunteers (Hesther Bate and Solen Lees from UK/France and Kim Joseph from New York) took part in this experience.

Here is Hesther and Solen’s story:

Due to late planes and lost baggage, Solen and I missed our sleeper train in Bucharest and ended up having to travel north overnight in Romania then get a ‘taxi-bus’ to take us south again to Chisinau, Moldova. As it turned out, that ‘mistake’ was a blessing in a way, because the journey showed us the back of things … the crumbling concrete high rise flats and the broken concrete railway huts: a post-soviet reality. We also got to know Bucharest train station very well and had ample time to learn the etiquette of queuing in Romania, as well as catching glimpses of rural Moldova such as horse and cart transportation and roadside markets.

Had our plans worked, we would have missed all this, because our hosts cosseted us so well we were taxied to and from the project daily, mostly seeing only the best of things, and meeting people committed to improving their community.

For seven intensive days we worked alongside 3 teachers from the local community, supported by 3 local volunteers. We played, sang, and ran around having fun, a lot of the time in English: we looked at healthy food, keeping the local community clean, and compared the cultures, ancient and modern, of Moldova and the West (including the similarity of Celtic art to their own ancient designs, which we examined in the museum).

Each day 31 children and accompanying staff were given a substantial morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack, and had excursions to local museums, a small farm, and the cinema. The day we looked at the environment, we made splendid ‘Keep our Community Clean’ posters, and actively cleaned up in the park and around the buildings in the centre of the village. Healthy food produced a small cooking lesson, and more posters, this time for the Centre. Seeing their work being shown in the community naturally boosted the youngsters’ self-esteem.

Unexpected things impressed me, all to do with respect. As I don’t eat meat, I offered my ham sandwich to the children opposite me, who had finished theirs: there was a silence, as each one assessed the situation. It was clear that they all wanted the extra, but they encouraged a boy who had broken his arm to take my sandwich. Also, in the ‘cooking’ session, my group prepared banana/lemon/mint sandwiches. They treated the food in a respectful manner, and made sure everyone had a turn at making, and that the food was equally shared with us teachers too.

The third thing concerned the toilets. There was only one toilet working: just one toilet, one urinal, one sink, each with its separate door, for 30 children and about 10 adults. None of the doors had locks. Everyone respected the ‘message’ of the shut door. Certainly, in Britain, given such a situation, kids would be rushing in and out of the doors trying to embarrass everyone, but not in Budesti!

At the end of the project both project participants and local teachers completed an evaluation exercise. This identified areas which needed improvement, but it was felt that the project was an overall success and had accomplished its goals, and it was decided to proceed with the organization of a second summer school in 2012.

Although very tired when we left, we had the feeling of satisfaction with our work: a link has been established, which we intend to develop and hopefully do even more next year.

For more information about the local project context, please see:www.scribd.com/doc/31881444/Budesti-Village/.  ##


Stories of a Lifetime

BY Irena Olender  
reprinted from the February 2012 issue of Contents,
a publication edited by emmanuel williams for Subud California

This is a story about my life as a very young child. It takes place at the end of World War II during the Japanese  occupation of Indonesia, the land of my birth. During that time I spent three years in several Japanese concentration camp under extremely harsh conditions together with my mother and two older brothers. This story is based on one of my vivid memories from that time. It is set in a camp in Lampersari, a camp for women and children near the coastal city of Semarang in Java. The Japanese occupiers imprisoned women and children separately from the men. Boys were considered to be men at age ten, and taken from their mothers to be sent to men’s camps at that age. Camp Lampersari held about 17,000 women and children prisoners towards the end of the war. The women and children referred to in this story were my family’s housemates, about twenty-five to thirty women and children cramped together in a ten by ten foot space without sanitation or water.

The impact of these experiences has been tremendous and recovery has been a lifelong project for my family and for me. My spiritual process in the latihan has been a great blessing for me in that process and has made it possible for me to find a voice for my experiences and what I have learned from them. At some time in the future I will share a story about how I came to a place of forgiveness. For now I mostly want to share the power of a very simple story, Rag Doll


‘Today is a special day’, my mother has said. “Today you are four!’ I know that birthdays are special. Most mothers in the camp try to make a celebration of some kind for the birthday children. So here I am, a little girl, standing in a circle of smiling women and staring children, feeling self-conscious and awkward. It is true that the day has started in a special way. Roll call has not lasted as long as usual, and all the sick people are still here. Not one woman or child has disappeared or forgotten to get up in the morning. So, perhaps it is true. Today I am four, and the day is special.

Yet I feel set apart in an uncomfortable sort of way. People are smiling and are bringing me some special gifts. Some kids have collected snails, four snails, one for each year I have lived. I count them aloud in Dutch, and, quietly inside my head, in Japanese. Nobody, myself included, likes to hear Japanese. 

Een, twee, drie, vier! One, two, three, four snails! Tomorrow, at sunrise, my mother will cook them. I hate snail soup; it stinks! But my mama’s iron will and my empty tummy will prevail. I will eat these slimy creatures. I will even pretend to like them. When it comes to snails, I know what is expected.

Again the women are smiling. They seem to have a truly special present for me. I see their tired faces, the eyes hollow and dark, attempting to make a celebration. I do not fully understand.

Together they hand me the present: a flat, tin can that used to hold crackers or cookies, long ago, in a time unknown to me. The tin can is carefully covered with little pieces of cloth. I recognize small pieces and patterns of the tattered dresses some women are wearing.

My breath stops. I am awestruck. She is so beautiful! Carefully I take her out and hold her, the way I have seen the mothers hold their little ones. Then I put her back in her little rag bed. Next I take her out again. I do not quite know, what to do. I am not used to having a toy. What does one do with such a treasure?

All eyes seem to be focused on me. Finally I sigh and announce that I shall have to check her little bed for lice once more. It gives me a reason to take the whole cradle apart again.

Some of the older children snigger. The grown-ups smile and shake their heads. Did I say the wrong thing? I hope not!
Because I really, really like my little rag doll.

And, today I am four. ##


Capung Cinta: A Moment of Transformation 


There are a few things in life more satisfying than seeing another human being suddenly step out of the shackles of fear, shyness, lack of confidence, or whatever it is holding them back from expressing their full potential.

In my first period of teaching at the Bina Cita Utama School in Kalimantan, there was a boy, Ari, who was always silent. I sometimes wondered if he was actually hostile, but everyone assured me it was just that he was very, very shy. I was told that when Ari's father bought him to the school he explained that Ari was chronically shy and he implored the school to help his son become more confident.

During my second term of the school, I once again had Ari in my classes and once again found him to be very, very quiet.


About halfway through the term, my year 11/12 students got very excited about including music and drama in their English classes. There was a new volunteer teacher at the school, Alina Woodhouse, a trained drama teacher who worked with me.

It so happened that Pierce Vaughn had written a film script called "Kampung Cinta, A Village Romance," which we turned into a play. It tells a story of two girls from the village whose friendship is broken up when one of them falls in love with a “bad boy”.

We cast Ari as Pak Argus who runs the local motorbike repair shop where the “bad boy” works. His role called for him to be forceful and at times exasperated with the younger generation. These were not qualities that Ari usually displayed; indeed as I have said, he rarely spoke at all.


But as he got into the role of Pak Argus he became more and more expressive. We included a number of songs in the production and I wrote a special rap number for Pak Agus in which he not only sings but moves as he complains about the unreliability of the younger generation. When we performed the play for the school, the greatest moment was without doubt “Pak Argus Rap”. The audience went wild. It seemed the whole school could witness that here was a young human being discovering potentials within himself that he had never expressed before. Ari, who couldn’t even look you in the eye 12 months ago, sang and danced solo in front of the whole school!

You could see how throughout this process Ari became much more sociable and confident, definitely "one of the boys." ##
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Kantong Plastik: A Rock Video



(reprinted from Subud Voice, March 2011)

Hendrih Horthy writes...
Recently, I experienced a sudden change in the direction of my professional career, as we are prone to in Subud. It was late one night, when I was jamming with some Indonesian friends in Australia, that one guy suggested that we start a band singing Indonesian songs and that I should be the lead singer.

At the time, I brushed this aside as a ludicrous notion, but as time passed and a sequence of events left me at a crossroads in my life, I started to consider the possibility more seriously. Ever since I grew up in Indonesia I have felt that it was my home and have been very com- fortable in the company of its people.

As a result I learned to communicate fluently in their language and share many experiences. The only regret that I had was that my skin was white and, therefore, could never be one of them.

For the last 15 years I have lived in Australia, all the while pondering when I will return to Indonesia and what I would do. The band seemed to be the perfect opportunity and a refreshing change from my previously stressful corporate life.

So Hendri (my Indonesian counterpart) and I started to write some songs. It was important that these songs would stand out and have a positive message....environment, spiritual, love, life! The band is called Ozone and we now have nine songs. The first to be presented on video is "Kantong Plastik" (Plastic Bags).

This was filmed by Borneo Productions International with children from Bina Cita Utama, the school at Rungan Sari in Kalimantan.

The dream is coming to life....  SEE THE VIDEO   


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