It’s been awhile now since the grand launching of our website and it seems we have neglected to keep you up to date on what’s been happening ever since.
Firstly the authorities blocked Vimeo here in Indonesia, due to the ignorance and stupidity of our Indonesian Communication & Information Minister, Tifatul Sembiring, so our site was down for awhile as Vimeo hosts all our video content, and it has been incredibly busy around here with many exciting projects both in the pipeline and in the process of finalising.
One of our current projects took us to the refreshingly cool mountain villages in Northwest Sumatra. We left Jakarta super early and had hoped to reach our destination around 2.00pm as it was an 8 hour drive from the airport. A little over an hour into our hair raising trip with our driver tailgating every car infront of us and overtaking on sharp turns at hight speed, the car lost power and decided to stop working, so we ended up stopping at a roadside cafe. We were told a replacement car would be with us in an hour, and so we ate, and several hours later, as the sun was beginning to set, another car finally arrived and we set off again on our journey. A change of plans meant we ended up staying the night in a small town a couple of hours away from our final destination.
The next morning we were just so happy to arrive in one piece after our drivers hair raising driving skills where it felt like we were passengers in a Grand Prix race or something similar, despite repeated efforts to please slow down as we were in no hurry. Having visited the tsunami affected areas of Banda Aceh in the past, this was the first time for us to travel together out into the mountainous lush green tropical countryside and the rice fields were so picturesque and beautiful.
Our destination was the Bener Meriah District which are coffee growing highlands and you can see the coffee plantations for miles the further off the main road that you travel. Most people living in this poor rural area ended up here due to the long running conflict in Aceh that ended around 9 years ago.
We joined the staff of the Save The Children campaign to document their work which aims to assist early childhood education in the surrounding villages.
A bumpy car ride through winding roads led us to the last kampung to be found in the mountains where a new classroom was recently built. As can be found throughout Indonesia, we were welcomed with big smiles and many excited children following us around in fits of giggles, while adults stood on the sides of the road trying to see what all the fuss was about.
Samudra, our 11 month old son, who travels with us on all our trips, was over the moon to be invited into the homes of the villagers and fed sweet biscuits while being lavished with so much attention. He is a great ice-breaker when meeting new people as they all seem to feel instantly at ease and are already comfortable by the time the camera appears for interviewing. We are so happy he gets to experience such a diversity of cultures and life at such a young age, and has the opportunity to interact with so many children all around Indonesia.
We played with the children on their new play equipment outside their humble and brand new brightly coloured classroom while the ducks and chickens pecked around close by, and took photos and listened as the children squealed in delight to see their faces on the screen.
We wandered around the kampung and filmed some interviews and met the locals, and then with the permission of the Head of The Village, Putra and Imam stayed the night with a family to continue filming, while we headed to a slighter warmer location over an hour away.
It was a funny to ask if someone could check the hotel room as there was no hot water in the shower, and then two minutes later a steaming tub of boiling water arrived at the door. The miscommunication ended up with Samudra being able to thaw out in a makeshift bath though.
The next two days included a visit to the coffee plantations to watch the mothers at work, an entertaining morning watching classes conducted in the new school, interviewing local adults and children and incredible sunrises and sunsets. It was a full few days in Aceh and it was an absolute pleasure to meet the Save The Children team and see how they are helping local communities to better educate their young children and prepare them for primary school.
We send a huge thank you to the team at Save The Children for the opportunity to document their amazing work and for being so welcoming to us during our time in Aceh, and we look forward to sharing the finished documentaries with you in the near future.
A big thank you also to our driver, Agus, for delivering us back to the airport in one piece, where we could breath a sigh of relief after a minor incident with a motorbike, we made it!