Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our First Day in Sumba EVER!

On the 20th of July, Simon and I said our goodbyes to Daniel in Bali and flew to a remote island that is around 2 hours South East of Bali. Daniel had taken the plane over to Jakarta to fly back home to Sydney. I wouldn’t have a slightest idea of why I would follow Simon to Sumba if he didn’t ask me. I mean, who WOULD go there?! (Exception to Western surfers fanatics) For Simon, his reason to go there is to visit Yubi, a friend he met in his church back in Canberra. I decided to go with Simon when he convinced me in an email saying, "I just saw photos of Sumba! I love Sumba!" ... and I thought "Oh? Already?!"

I couldn’t believe how much hassle we had to go through to book our ticket to Sumba. It’s so remote that most travel agents in Jakarta couldn’t be bothered ringing me back about the ticket! Though, it turns out to be a pleasant flight from Bali to Sumba, except the plane is really old and the landing was scarily ‘creative’. When we were above the island, we can see the landscape clearly from above. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen or imagined! The land is red-ish and dry with patches of trees here and there. The top of the hills are flat, and there’s so many of it that I’m not entirely sure if the hills are the actual surface and the gullys are well... giant cracks of the dry high land. In between the narrow deep gully's, they've planted a lot of rice which made it look very green in contrast to the red dry hills. Simon and I looked down at the mysterious and odd landscape below us in silence, slightly confused.

“Fionna... where are we?”
“I’m not so sure... but it looks like Africa.”

I knew it then and there Simon had fallen in love with this island... He is, afterall, is head over heels with Africa... Uganda to be specific.

Yes, Sumba is remote and poor. I didn’t see any building that is more than 2 stories high and there are just villages everywhere. Some of the buildings are modern made of cement concrete but a lot of traditional houses also still exist.

We landed on Sumba’s airport in the afternoon. Needless to say why you can tell by this photo that the airport is so marveously simple. Thats the way we like it! :p

Our friend Yubi picked us up from the airport with her brother. Before we even managed to go check into the hotel, we went over to the horse race first. Sumba people are obsessed with this sport. The horse are different in a way that they are smaller and therefore the jockey has to be extremely light. The jockeys are normally self taught boys of the age 4 – 11 years old

Some people who saw this photo would respond "Wow, they've got coke there!" Yes, they sure do! ( I'd like to take my hat off to Coke's amazing marketing team for this) Though it would be handy for that lady to have a stand than just selling on the audiences seats!

After we checked in to the hotel, Yubi took us to a church who had recently partnered up with the Compassion project. When the car pulled up in front of the church, Simon and I were a bit shocked as how someone had just decided to cut off half of the hill where the church is sitting on! I asked the pastor of that church about that and he said that they wanted to move the church on the flat surface so that older people don’t have to climb up the hill in order to go to church. Though, it's a bit worrying how they cut the hill off so close to the actual building.

Many of the children in this project are not sponsored yet, and because the area is so poor, a lot of these kids aren’t Christians either. A lot of them are still followers of the traditional belief of ‘Marapu’ and even one of the child is a Muslim. It was a very unusual feeling sitting inside the church listening to them mumbling Christian songs and praying with us.

After visiting the Compassion project, Yubi took Simon and I to a Bible study group. It was a really good experience for me as at the end of the study, I get to hear testimonies from people around my age who really doesn’t have much, but are happy. I dare say that they are even happier than me! There was this girl who expressed how grateful she is to be doing a job that she loves, a guy who quit his job as a room service in a hotel in Bali but now is content with whatever God had given him, and a young lecturer who is content with the little pay he receives. It made me realize the stronger power of happiness that is based on righteousness against happiness that is based on materialism. Sure it’s not easy to be poor, but it doesn’t stop these people do good things, happy and content! It must take a hell of a lot of faith and contentment to be able to live with nothing and yet have everything!

We left the little house where the Bible study's at and Yubi took us to the local radio station where she plans a session for us to talk about Compassion project. Simon and I were pretty nervous, but for me, being exhausted kindda helped me with the stage fright. I thought Simon wasn’t scared as he’s been on air to talk about Compassion several times in Canberra, but I guess being pressured to talk Indonesian would be a good reason to be nervous. I ended up doing a lot of the talking and answering questions about the project. My mind was pitch black the second I heard my own voice on the headphones. It’s just one of those moment when you know so much about stuff but loose it all when being put on the spotlight.

I’m not really sure how I got through. Yubi and Simon made it easier for me as they are very relaxed about the whole thing. We had an amazing response from the listeners that night. We received many sms and phone calls in our 2 hour session. I’m SO encouraged to see how so many people took their time to tell us that they are excited, honoured, proud and appreciative to have Simon, who came all the way from Australia to visit Sumba and to hear about what Compassion is doing for the community. I’m so honored to have the opportunity to talk about Compassion that night. I believe that we managed to save some kids that night through the radio program.

To learn more about Compassion, please visit: You might as well go and sponsor a child or 2 while you're at it! :p


  1. Great blog so inspired! very heartfelt.
    Yes please go ahead and sponsor a compassion child. You can change a child's destiny!
    Keep up the great work Fiona, Simon, Daniel gbu
    Ps Gayle Dwije C3 Bali

  2. i love this story! it is a blessing to travel..i am glad you were able to visit Sumba- the pictures are amazing- many blessings to you


  3. Thanks everyone! I really appreciate it, very encouraging! I hope you are all inspired! =)Peace!