Trip Start Jul 08, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Sumatra,
Saturday, January 30, 2010

I can't believe that I spent four weeks at IHF. The time flew by. I made so many friends there with the students, staff and friends of the staff. During the first week as with any new role I spent the time finding my feet and learning the structure of the centre, how the classes were ran and structuring my own lesson plans although the place is run purely by volunteers so by the second day I was taking classes.

We held eight classes a week and each class would attend two sessions a week. We held the classes in the evening and during the day we would prepare for lessons and complete other work for the charity. Teaching the children was a joy as their enthusiasm was amazing. We had to turn children away who had not registered as the classes were already so big. The ages of the students ranged from around four years to teenagers.

Towards the end of the second week Alia returned to the centre from resolving some problems in the Thailand centre. Alia was like a breath of fresh air to the place, Mike the director was ending his twelve month contract and had already packed his bags and left mentally. Alia was great fun and we become good friends instantly. Also Nurman arrived, another volunteer, similar to myself, from Germany so the house was suddenly full and a lot livelier of a daytime. Needless to say with over maybe close to 100 children of an evening the house was never quiet then.

One of our projects was to make a new video for the Medan IHF page of their website and Alia and I had great fun for a couple of days putting it together. Trying to get the younger children to pay attention to the classes was not easy though because as soon as the camera came out they all wanted their pictures taken.

There are not many reasons for people to visit Medan, Medan is more of a arrival/departure or transit city to other places in Sumatra. IHF's centre was nowhere near the place were any tourists would be and it was great to be living right within the community. The warmth extended far beyond the centre and heading out for food, or to the shops, would require saying hello to many people along the way. There were all the regulars that we would pass everyday who would never tire of greeting you and also the people passing by on motorbikes or becacks shouting hello as the passed. I’d forgotten how the call of 'hello mister’ follows you everywhere in Sumatra. It seems everyone on Sumatra is glad to see you and keen to say hello to you. It would almost be tiring but can you really get tired of people smiling and wanting to say hello to you.

On my final week I went out with Alia, Joey and Wuhey in to the villages to help prepare and collect the sponsor letters from children whose sponsorship helps to ensure that they have access to education. It was quite humbling watching the care and attention they would put into those letters. We did manage a slight detour to a volcanic lake. One of the students told Joey that there was a nice hot volcanic lake, Danau Linting, not too far from us. As none of us had been before we decided to head off and check it out. It was not so close and took maybe an hour plus to reach but it was a beautiful turquoise lake fed from a volcano so at a nice warm temperature.

Also in my final week Eric, one of the students, took me to meet his family. Eric had become a good friend and introduced me to some good Indonesian music. Eric and Budi where my brothers at the centre and when they were around it was always time for a break to hang out with them

The last time I was in Indonesia I made a good friend from Pedang who invited me to stay with his family. I was fortunate enough to meet up with him again as his sister was getting married in Medan, so the family was in Medan for the wedding. I was also invited to the wedding so it was great to see all the family again and also experience an Indonesian wedding. I felt sorry for the bride and groom though as the as all they did all day was sit in a specially designed room on two thrones and pose for pictures with the guests. This happened all day and night and the only variation for them was that they changed clothes twice throughout the day.

Anyway as I mentioned my time with IHF went all too quick. I wish I could have stayed longer. It was sad saying goodbye to the children and the staff there but I had two weeks left on my visa and I was planning to return to Medan for my flight so I knew it was not the final goodbye yet.
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