This summer I was lucky enough to spend six weeks volunteering in Indonesia. Having signed up to volunteer with AIESEC I immediately set my heart on Indonesia and I am oh so glad that I was drawn toward selecting this country. Leaving the UK I felt anxious, perhaps a little unprepared but mostly excited and when I landed adrenaline overtook any negative emotions.
I was to get from the bustling capital city of Jakarta to Bandung where I would live for six weeks with an Indonesian host family. The transport system in Indonesia is ‘unique’ so this seemingly simple journey was a daunting mission. As I arrived in Bandung having independently got from A to B I felt a sense of pride and achievement rush over me and nerves of meeting my host family evaporated. The family were so welcoming. My room was basic but I was immediately made to feel at home with the oh so popular Indonesian delicacy – nasi goreng (fried rice) being served to me on arrival.
The iGreen project began the next day. I met my teammates consisting of fifteen volunteers from all corners of the world whom I would become very close with over the next six weeks. We set to work, with a purpose of increasing awareness of environmental issues amongst residents as well as reporting observations and suggestions to NGO’s. The waste issues
were much worse than I anticipated which made me realise the great worth of this project in Bandung. Rivers are clogged with waste, litter is thrown absent mindedly on the street and with no garbage disposal system residents are forced to burn garbage leading to a thick cloud of pollution over the city. The residents understand there is a problem but with little government help and rapid population growth the situation continues to worsen.
Volunteering in a school I educated the children about environmental problems, introduced composting methods and set up hydroponic systems. By targeting schools the project aimed to inspire the local youth – the future of the city – to
adopt environmentally friendly methods in the hope this would create a more optimistic, sustainable future. We led workshops on recycling waste into new products such as bags to illustrate waste can be converted into useful, even sellable products. I made several speeches in schools and NGO’s discussing waste management in the UK and suggestions for their future. Visiting islands with serious waste problems presentations were made to the local government with ideas which are now implemented. Weekdays were packed with activities such as beach cleans and mangrove planting while weekends were free time for team trips around Indonesia.
I met inspiring people from all over the world on the project who I will stay in contact with for life. Together we feel we made a small difference in our short time; instilling hope for a cleaner, more sustainable future environment in the incredible Indonesia. Memories of my summer will last a lifetime. Thanks Principals Go Abroad Fund for making it happen!