SabangMerauke : The true unity in Diversity

Bhinneka Tunggal Ika is the Motto of Indonesia which means Unity in Diversity. We, as an Indonesians have known, learned, and read many articles trying to describe the meaning. Do you ever give a thought about the real implementation of these motto?

Only couple of people have a real experience living with people from different backgrounds: faith, religion, race, accent, and others. For 3 weeks in last July, my family have an amazing story. We are living with a christian junior high school girl from Maluku. What an amazing 3 weeks! We are still hang over by the greatness of this experience.

Could you imagine? For me, I would never imagine the real feeling until I get to feel those roller coaster of life. Those days weren’t easy at all – suddenly become parents of 13 yo-girl! All of those years studying about adolescence in the developmental psychology classes are finally making sense. Teenager is a whole different creature to handle – although we were all once a teenager.

Let’s not focus on how to parent a teenage girl – we need to focus on the program instead. I know about this program from a picture that was posted by my friend – Prie (which I adored so much, btw) in path and instantly caught my attention. I was discussing about it with Le Husband when I got struck by his question : “why?”

This question got me. I really want to join this program without any hesitation that when I was asked a simple why made me wonder. Why?

The first and only reason that I can came up with to explain my instant attraction was I wanted to do something for Indonesia. Cliche? yes. But for me it was the truth. We are now living in a post-truth era, where everyone has their own version of truth. With every person has a mean to tell their version, everyone else has their own way to only see evidences of their vision. Turn back hoax is an urgent thing for us to do now and what is better than experiencing it ourselves?

We have been reading many news about how one faith is so violence toward another; how one race is superior than the other; how we are really different from one another; and so on. In this post-truth era, everyone feels certain that their version of judgment is the truth. Deception is common and many people fell in to the framed trap : we are now framing one another. I am an Indonesian Moslem, part of the majority and I am sure that once in my lifetime I have stereotyped other people who is different. And now – more than ever – I need to make sure that those labeling will discontinue.

SabangMerauke is an initiative that select 15 junior high school students from all over Indonesia to come to Jakarta for 3 weeks and live in a Family which is different from them (either by race or religion) thus they will experience how to work on their differences and be a true family….because tolerance is not something that you can understand by only learning about it – you have to experience it to really feel its true meaning. Every weekday, these teenagers got to visit different places to learn about Education, Tolerance, and Indonesia : 3 main values of SabangMerauke. Weekend was family time and most of us will take those children to places that they really want to visit in Jakarta, or take them to our family gathering. Other than these teenagers, volunteers, committees and us – the Families, there were also “brother and sister” of SabangMerauke which accompany the children towards their program – act as a tutor, counselor, and the most important role : best friends! *The children is called Anak SabangMerauke (ASM); Family is Family SabangMerauke (FSM); Bro/Sis is Kakak SabangMerauke (KSM). To understand more about the program, visit

Being part of this initiative gave me opportunities to meet great people from different background. The ASMs are not your typical junior high school students. They are energetic kids with great visions and very motivated to achieve their dreams. You will be very optimistic about Indonesian future if you talk to them. The girl who was living with me, my daughter, is Giovani Kapiluka. Gio – her nickname – is in her third year in Junior High School in Ketty Letpey – a village in Lakor Island, Maluku. She loves to play guitar and really into music and singing. She wants to be a singer one day, but also has a vision where all the children in her village could get an access to proper education. She wants to make sure everyone knows that education is important and every children in her village has equal access to school. But when I ask whether she want to switch from being a singer to an Education Minister, she still aspired to be a singer (typical teenager 😆 ).

Many stories about how joining this initiative affect my life in a very positive ways. I could finally write this post in more than a week after the farewell dinner due to my full mind and full heart : resonated from this program. I literally caught in tears every time I remember the joyous feeling of being a part of SabangMerauke. Many stories. Much Laugh. Much Tears. Many years to face until we could finally see the real impact of this positive vibe shared by SabangMerauke. For now, I am most grateful for the new family I found in SabangMerauke. Bravo SabangMerauke!




Ramadhan and Volunteering

We are now in the middle of the Holy Month. Ramadhan. The most anticipated month for muslims because of its big rewards. What we’ve taught since we were a kid is that if we do something good during this month, the value of our good deeds will be multiplied. What we always forget in one point is that Ramadhan is one special month that need eleven months training to get through it successfully. We forget that we have to exercise in the other eleven months to be a winner in the end of Ramadhan.

Volunteering is one of many good deeds that we can do in our life and maybe in this holy month, we get many chances to do it or to start doing it because people seems to be very helpful and very creative in making a way to help others.

Volunteering is always my biggest passion, I like to be involved in a non-profit activity but for now, my volunteering activity is kinda lose its chances dealing with my hectic avoidance mind. :sigh: I am not a member of one specific volunteer organization nor I funded one of them. I can only join them in my spare time that made me hard to keep up with their rhythm. *just another rationalization going in my mind* let’s us talk about other people then..

I have friends that dedicated their life for volunteering and I appreciate them very much. From all of my volunteer friend, I began to spot a pattern. I recognize two kinds of them. One of them volunteer in full spotlight, while the other one, like to keep it in the shadow.

My spotlight kind of friend is a member of many volunteer organization and always publish whatever activities they’re doing just like their life is devoted to volunteer and they had to make sure that the world know it. My shadow kind of friend is a member of only one organization that they established from zero. Their organization is in its way to be one big fish and somehow they could manage to hide that they are the people behind it.

So, which one is better? In my opinion, everyone has their own reason of what they choose to do in their life.

My friends in group spotlight believe that if everyone knows that they are doing something and if the world know that they actually enjoy doing it, also that volunteering could also make you famous, many people will roll up their sleeves to join the volunteers community. The buzz is also kind of volunteering.

My friends in group shadow believe that even if they work in a silence, society could not act like they don’t make differences. They tend to show that altruism is not only a myth.

So, which group are you in? The most important thing is the volunteering itself.

Let’s make this world a beautiful place to live, together..