Friday, August 7, 2009


Our last few days in Sumatra were spent in Padang, one of Sumatra's larger coastal cities and West Sumatra's largest city located on the Indian Ocean. The humidity was high and the sweat was running. This town although crowded and hot did not seem as busy and dirty as Medan, Sumatra's 3rd largest city on the Strait of Malacca. We walked the markets with the variety of smells, mostly fish, and colorful vegetables. Everyone around us was friendly and welcoming. They loved to have their photos taken.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thanks to APKO and Arinagata coops

I want to thank the farmers of APKO and Arinagata for the time they spent with us, for allowing us to visit with their families and villages. We enjoyed our visit tremendously. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
I hope to upload pictures of our visit when I find a good internet connection.

Into the jungle we go

This might be the last post for a while. We're not sure if there will be internet, hot showers (there has not been a hot shower yet:) or paved roads. Takengon as it is has only one spotty internet place. The pictures won't upload and sometimes the post publishes sometimes not. Mungkin ja, mungkin tedack.
We head to Blangketjereng to visit cocoa farms and hand out school supplies, then to Ketembe for a jungle trek, then Lake Toba to do the tourist thing, then maybe Padang to shop for gifts, (send all your requests now).

We spent two full days interviewing farmers from different coops. We visited the villages, met with the leaders, drank coffee, explored the coffee gardens, drank coffee, ate lunch and shared stories. Everyone was excited to see us and wanted their pictures taken. They were literally dragging us by the arm to see this and that. They had so much fun listening to us attempt to speak Indonesian.
I was reluctant to where a head scarf but was glad I did. all the men and women commented on it and smiled approvingly. I was showing proper respect. Funny, I initially felt this rubbed me the wrong way:) Now I wrap it around me like a special blanket.

I will load pictures as I can. I have lots of pictures of all the coop farmers and their children.

To Save the Orangutan...

You must help the people to save the Orangutans.
I've been learning about the complexity of the idea of saving the Orangutans. Gunung Leuser National Park is a large section of rain forest in Sumatra that has been preserved with financing of the European Union and prohibition of cutting in the preserve by the Indonesian government. This is a favorable outcome for the future of the rain forest but the people in the region of this park live in extreme poverty with no real means of support, education, and economic development.

The land is extremely rich in natural and mineral resources but these resources are blocked from use. There needs to be a way to transition the people of the region into a more stable sustainable business and lifestyle where their interests are aligned with the preservation of the rain forest and its animals that doesn't result in their living in poverty. If their economic sucess is not a part of the program to save the rain forest the illegal cutting and poaching will continue to occur from desperation.
How can we change this?

The area around Takengon where the people grow coffee is not as poor as the area around the park. Production of Organic Fair Trade coffee does much to help the farmers. Of course this is all relative because the villages where the farmers have their coffee gardens have little to no electricity, sanitation, education...etc. Everyone here is poor compared to what we know in the US.