There are many remote places in the world along the coastlines that we've immersed ourselves in but none so isolated as Morotai Island in Eastern Indonesia's Maluku Archipelago. A Spice Island in the colonial era and Allied base in World War II, Morotai and its people have been influenced by Arab merchants, Portuguese explorers, Dutch traders, Japanese soldiers and Allied forces. Now, Morotai is experiencing a new wave of opportunities. In 2016, Indonesia’s President selected Morotai for accelerated tourism development and today, local communities are anticipating huge shifts in their way of life just upon the horizon.
We were invited by a local nonprofit, A Liquid Future, who we worked with in the Mentawai Islands, to collaborate on a six month program that would prepare local residents from at least two villages (Buho Buho and Bido) with communication skills (English language, audiovisual tools and creative arts) to engage with tourism development as empowered stakeholders and stewards of their culture and environment. The program was sponsored by the U.S. Consulate, Surabaya and would run until the spring next year.
The first months, we spent learning the local language, designing the curriculum of the "Action Communication" program, and getting to know the lay of the (is)land.
We facilitated a few workshops as a test run for our longer classes beginning in January 2018. Luckily, we had a few willing participants.
Also involved in our prep work was helping our local partner launch their community-based collaboration center. Over the course of two months, residents of Buho Buho joined us in painting walls, clearing weeds, and eliminating dust (what we found to be a never ending battle). It was a true effort by everyone to make a space for sharing and learning.
As we felt like our program was coming together more cohesively, we facilitated several classes at Bido's middle school and started to grow some roots in the community we would be working in and learning together with for the next half year! We also tried an open workshop in the village of Tawakali at the elementary school.
Beyond classes, we hosted a beach cleanup only to realize how grave the problem of not having a trash recollection system was. Our only option after collecting the trash from the beach was to then, burn it.
Before our December break for the holidays, we opened A Liquid Future's new collaboration center in Buho Buho. It was a full on celebration with speeches in Bahasa Indonesian (our's included) and a ribbon cutting ceremony by the President of Morotai's lovely wife.