United In Diversity

This is the story of our volunteer, Mrs. Anais Bargallo.

You will certainly have noticed that being with Dominique and finally having the impression that my studies in human rights will be useful, has stimulated me enormousy. Being part of the different projects that she set up and manages has made me change my way of seeing things, it has also allowed me to restore my faith in humanity.
So I went, with her, on an 8 day trip and there was not a single day when I did not rethink my way of thinking about cultural shock, the history of countries and adopting a very philosophical approach to Life and its differences.
Coming from Europe, where the economic situation is so different from Asia and especially from Indonesia, I learned to be flexible, to break the rigidity with which I saw things. In Europe, the child is the most important, the parents over-protect and would do everything for their happiness. In Indonesia, the approach is not the same. It is quite normal to see kids 10 years or younger work at 8pm at the roadside, all alone, selling food or snacks at ridiculously low prices. This is normal because the parents are so poor that if the children do not help the parents, they would not survive. They do not have all the help that we have (and about which we constantly complain, mouth wide open).
The European countries, the rich countries, they exasperate me with their little behaviours of capricious children who cry because they do not have their toys. I do not denigrate the problems in Europe, but I despise the intolerance and stupidity of people. We live in a society where we are controlled by the media. We hear the same speeches on a daily basis, the same discourses that make us believe that it is the end of the world, and that all this is the fault of immigrants or refugees. This kind of speech makes me sick in my guts. This phenomenon is called “post truth politics” ie politicians use the fears of citizens and media speeches as truthful. They use public opinion in their political speeches. Basically, the media scares us, and politicians use our fear to make a speech we want to hear: they will eliminate this fear (in this case immigrants). This speech makes absolutely no sense. This fear is a political fantasy that does not exist.
In short, let us return to the subject. So in 8 days I have discovered many things. I have discovered the other side of Indonesia. I have discovered an Indonesia that does not exist in the eyes of politicians, and in the eyes of the world. An Indonesia where children live in rubbish dumps, an Indonesia where whole villages do not even have access to the internet, an Indonesia where kids work instead of going to school, an Indonesia where kids do not have toys and may have only a plastic fork and the soil to play with.
In Harau, we bought full bags of toys and games to help them to open their minds. We also met with the government and the Ministry of Tourism to develop a festival of traditional music and dance, to develop this magnificent region which is still very little known. This festival will both generate revenue for the local community and promote local traditions (such as Minang songs).
It is not enough to play ostrich and believe that this kind of situation happens only to others. You could also have been born in one of these countries. The poorest countries have more to offer than our rich and individualist countries. I travel because I can no longer be surrounded by fake people who speak to you out of interest. Here at least when you offer a piece of paper and coloured pencils, you feel like Santa Claus. This feeling is worth all the happiness in the world. Think twice.
Anais Bargallo, MA Student in Human Rights, Gadjah Mada University

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