Natsir’s nature school (part 1)

After Bara beach our next stop was Makale. That meant a 5 hour drive to Makassar, a taxi drive to the terminal, waiting there for about 8 hours and a 10 hour bus ride to Makale.

When we finally arrived in Makale our host was nowhere to be seen. We called him the evening before we got the night bus to tell him we would arrive in the morning, expecting him to be there when we’d arrive. So there we were, in a town we didn’t know, a language we don’t speak and a host who’s phone seemed disconnected. We were just about to panic when half the town rushed over to see if we needed some help. Thank God people here are incredible kind and helpful! We didn’t understand a word they were saying so they made sure an English speaking guy came to the terminal to help us out.

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To our regrets our host still didn’t answer so we decided to go the nearest hotel (with some help from the locals) and just relax for the day (really needed that after such a long travel) and keep calling our host. We were too excited about doing some volunteer work to give up now or at least find some where els we could help out. YES YES YES, 5 hours later the sound of a message on our phone. It was Natsir asking if we made it to Makale. He didn’t forget about us. He was waiting at the terminal for us early in the morning, but since our bus was late (which we didn’t even know since we were sleeping) missed us. We immediately got our belongings and checked out of the hotel and went to the spot where he was going to pick us up. Even though we paid for a room it didn’t matter, we wanted to meet our host. And hey, at least we slept, showered and had some good food oh and shouldn’t forget… clogged the toilet!

Natsir picked us up at the spot and we went to his village in a remote area where there’s almost no running water and almost no cell reception. Now we got why it seemed as if is Natsir’s phone was disconnected!

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After arriving at Natsir’s house we met his family, the other volunteers and had our first wonderful meal made by Rosdiana (Natsir’s wife). We arrived on a Friday which meant there was nothing to do at the school or in the garden and went to town with the other volunteers. After two days of relaxing we couldn’t wait to finally get to work. So when Monday arrived we got up early and did some gardening for a couple of hours until it got too hot to work. Then lunch, siesta and at three the kids came for their English lesson. It was a fun experience to teach the kids and we couldn’t wait for the next lesson! This was pretty much our daily routine for the two weeks we were there, except for the days we went out with the other volunteers.

The classes are devided in three levels. You have the beginner, intermediate and advanced class. Haven given a lesson to each group, the beginners are the hardest to teach. Not speaking the Indonesian language we found ourselves stumbling upon vocabulary issues. Sometimes we weren’t sure the kids understood what we were trying to teach them, but man are these kids patient and respectful! The intermediate and advanced classes are much easier, since they already understand some of the English language.

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We also went to the school in town. Before we went we told the teachers we only wanted to observe, since we had no idea what the kids already have been taught. Arriving at the school we immediately got placed infront a class without any supervision. Because the kids have so much respect towards teachers it wasn’t nerve wrecking at all and started to teach them what we knew. It was a good experience too!

On Sunday Natsir held a ‘camp’ for the kids that come to his school and the kids from the school in town. This camp was meant to make kids more aware about nature and have fun with the English language. All volunteers thought of fun activities and Natsir showed them around his garden (explaining that nature provides everything we need, without using any sort of pesticide). We had some activities lined up, but the first group that came was a little bit older than we had expected. We only had games younger kids would enjoy and these seemed teenagers. So we had to improvise on the last minute. Good thing our volunteer team was able to work together quickly and make it a fun day for everyone.

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Our first volunteering experience was amazing thanks to Natsir and his family. Who are genuinely good people with great stories! And our volunteer team with whom we had a great connection. This sure is a place we would visit again soon to see how Micaela’s curriculum is being used. More about that in our next blogpost…

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