Interview met Aris en Acok (2014)

Acok is onze locale projectleider in Labuan Pandan. Samen met zijn broer Aries is hij onze steunpilaar in het definieren en realiseren van onze projecten. Onderstaand leest u meer over hen en over de plannen in en met Labuan Pandan.

Could you please introduce yourself?

Acok: My name is Hasboullah, but my short name is Acok. I am from Labuan Pandan. Aries and me are full brothers and we also have one older sister. I married in 2003 with my wife Emy. I have one daughter, Tiara, and one son, Tandrega. And one we not know yet, because Emy is still pregnant. Acok stopped with school after Junior High School. After school Acok worked at the gili islands as a cook. Acok now runs a home stay together with his wife.

Aries: My name is Munawir Haries, but my short name is Aries. I come from Labuan Pandan. “I am born, grew up, married and made baby here”. I married in 1993 when I was 22 years old. My wife was 18 years old. I got my first daughter in 1995. She is now 20 and in university. I have 2 sons and 2 daughters. Aries went to Elementary school in Labuan Pandan and finished in 1985. After this he went to Junior High school in Sambelia and graduated in 1988. In 1991 he graduated from Senior High School. After this he went to university for three months but had to stop because there was not enough money. Aries has been to the gili islands for three years and worked at a home stay as waiter. He also worked in Malaysia for one year. Aries has a small shop at his house. His wife runs the shop.

How did you learn English?

Acok: When working at the gili’s I learned from listening to the tourist. I always listen, practice, ask and tried to learn 5 words each day.

Aries: I learned at school and when I worked in the gili’s. Afterwards I kept practicing and learning new words.

How did you get in contact with VLOK (now Anak-Anak Lombok Timur)?

We not directly got in contact with VLOK. We first met with Henk and Klaaske in 2007.

They came by bike as tourists and stayed at the home stay of Acok. At night we talked a lot and told about the situation in the village and we took them into the village to show the situation.

They had to go back to Holland. They said ‘we cannot do anything now, but we go thinking about what we can do’.

Then they came back and had met with Harry from VLOK in Holland. They told they had joined with VLOK. We didn’t know the projects from VLOK yet, so we went with them to Teloke to meet with Harry, Abdul and all the other people that were involved. After this the first 3 houses were build. We always tell the situation, especially from the poor people, and then we make the project plans together with Henk and Klaaske.

How do you choose who gets the support?

We look at the really poor people and make priority. We look which house is the worst, how many people live in the house, how the economy of the family is. Acok walks around the village every week so he knows what is going on in the village.

Do people ask for things?

Some ask, but a lot of people want. We have to make a good selection so we give help to the people who really need.

What were the reactions of the first people who got support?

They were very, very happy. They had a big smile which before they didn’t have. Some were crying so happy.

We didn’t make the houses from concrete, but from wood and bamboo. The wooden houses people can take with them when they have to move. People often have to move because they don’t own the land. Also when people divorce they often move the house afterwards or sometimes sell the house. So now many people already moved. Now they first have to talk when they want to move so VLOK knows where the houses go and why.

How does the communication with VLOK go?

The communication is good. Now with the new organization it is better because more smaller and easier to control. Before sometimes it was confusing if projects were for east or west.

We have communication with Henk and Klaaske through email and phone. We think it is good to work together with VLOK. Because like for example from the people who followed the carpenter education now many of them get a job, so we want to continue this.

How did the school start?

The problem was that many children didn’t go to school, because:

-    The economy of the parents;

-    The school was too far away;

-    The classes were too big;

So mostly the children of the poor people didn’t go to school. Before the new school was there these children went to school at the house of Aries in a place outside. Aries was also teaching here. He was teaching mathematics, writing and calculating. But too many children came and the place was too small.

Now the new school is build. At the moment there is one class with 23 children and one teacher. The children get education in the morning. Next year we get one extra teacher from government so more children can go to school.

How did the clinic start?

With the eye testing before many people came from many villages. Many people also came with other medical problems. Many people need medical help and are waiting for projects like this.

How is the communication with the government?

Before VLOK was in Labuan Pandan Aries had already started his own foundation “yayasan anak pantai (YAP)” which means children of the beach. The children from the village grow up from the beach because their parents are fisherman. With this foundation Aries had contacts with the government and because of his previous work with the government Aries arranges the communication with the government.

In this communication Aries is the bridge between the government and the society. Because the people in the village don’t know how to explain the situation and what they need and the government doesn’t know what is going on in the villages. He explains the situation and lets them see what is already been done by VLOK and then tells what still needs to be done and why the support of the government is needed.

What is the difference in the village from before VLOK and now?

The people in the village are very happy now because of the support. For example now people get the water from a good well that is made from concrete so the water is more clean now and les people get sick. And we have many projects that help the people now.

What projects are there?

-    Building houses and toilets;

-    The new school;

-    School uniforms;

-    Water filters;

-    Water wells;

-    Training carpenter;

-    Training electricity;

-    Teaching English;

-    Clinic;

-    Health projects/first aid;

-    Testing eyes;

-    Second hand clothes.

What ideas do you have for the future?

We still have many ideas. We are already doing many things, but for the young people we need to do more. We want to get more training so the young boys can get a job. If they have skills they can get a job. Like with the computer.

We want to get more tourism. The government also has plans to make more tourism. But we have to make people understand about tourism and make them ready.

We have to teach the people to speak English, have open communication with the people and make more home stay, restaurant, hotels and souvenirs. Many people want to get a job in tourism so we want to be ready for the tourist and all that comes with that.

What do you think tourist are looking for?

We have a nice island here with good snorkeling. The people are very friendly, it is safe and quit.

We don’t want to become mass tourism. We want to leave it like it is, but with more tourist.

We need to make the people here understand this so they are prepared. We want to make the streets clean and collect the garbage to make the place attractive for tourist.

What the local people can do in this to get a job:

-    If they have a boat get a job in transport;

-    If they have skills make souvenirs;

-    If they have no skills but speak English they can be a guide.

Aries can you tell about Australia?

I got information from a friend about the project from the government with Australia. We send in our résumé. There was a competition with 40 other people, but we got chosen for the project.

All got paid by government, passport, ticket, stay ect.

We learned about tourism. We had 20 days of study at the university in Australia and also visited the good tourism places in Australia. I learned a lot. Like how to organize, how to save the area and how to make the place nice for tourists. It is not easy, but it is already in process.

Acok: How did you start your home stay?

Before I had no job. I would speak to tourist I saw on the street. I met some guests from Holland who didn’t have a place to stay. I took them to my house so they could look if they found the place clean and good enough and they stayed there. They gave me the idea to make a sign beside the road.

It is called ‘Tiara home stay’ after the oldest child, Tiara.

First the guests stayed in the house where I had 2 rooms. If there came more people we slept outside ourselves so we could offer an extra room.

We made contacts with a travel agency from Holland. Later behind the house we build three rooms with support from Henk and Klaaske. If many guest come they still sometimes sleep in the house itself.

Before we only had three rooms. Now we build two extra rooms, because the travel agency wants to come with bigger groups. So now we have 5 rooms in total.

What do you still want for your home stay in the future?

-    Internet/wifi;

-    Hot water;

-    Small restaurant with menu;

-    More rooms on the roof.

Aries also wants to make a home stay because when Tiara Home stay is full people don’t know where to go. It will be no competition because they want to do it together.

Do you want to stay in Labuan Pandan forever?

Yes, maybe for holiday or work sometimes go to another country if possible but this is home. And we want to help the people here and not many people care for others.

What will happen in the future?

Now the village is already very different. People are smiling and people from other villages want to live here. We are very positive.

The government also already opened their mind and is thinking “we cannot do like that”. Government always says they don’t have money, but if we show what we already did with the help of VLOK together with this help the government can support.

If you ask the people what they want they always want many things, but we only need to ask for what they really need and make the government see and understand. We always say “it’s about what the people need, not what they want”.