Hi, I’m Amy and I sit on the steering group for Akademi Kristus along with my husband Chris and I am so excited about being involved in supporting the work of Akademi Kristus. I have a background in International Relations, majoring in Indonesian language and culture and have always had a soft spot for Indonesia and her people. So when the opportunity presented itself to be involved in a program that supports vulnerable people in Indonesia, I was in, one hundred percent.
Being involved in what Akademi Kristus has been doing has been such a blessing for myself and Chris and our children Eli (3) and Parker (1). Recently we visited Bali for a family holiday and to meet Geoff and Erma and their family (the Collins family) who founded and deliver the AK program in Sanur, Bali. To be honest, I thought that we were visiting Akademi Kristus to bless them and encourage them, but man was I wrong! We were the ones who were blessed, encouraged and challenged.
We spent two days with the Collins family at Akademi Kristus. The first day we were involved in the Jiu jitsu and boxing class, this group was mainly older youth as the younger kids attend school on Saturdays. You could see the enjoyment on their faces and the determination to master new techniques and to outmanoeuvre their opposition. In between the serious rolling was a lot of laughter and fun, particularly when Chris and Geoff rolled and Geoff dominated. At this stage I knew that we were involved in something pretty special but the real revelation was yet to come.
The following Wednesday was a very special day for us and while it started off like many other typical vacation days, with a buffet breakfast and fun in the pool with the kids, it progressed into a day that will forever impact how we live and think. In the warmth of the afternoon Geoff drove us to the slum aka the kampung, where a number of the children that attend classes live. We had planned to visit to get some footage and photos for the Akademi Website, but our visit had a much greater purpose.
As we walked through the kampung we could see how different our lives were from these Indonesian families. While our healthy happy three year old ran around, a small frail looking three year old girl, sat playing with her mothers sandals, unable to walk. Two of her three siblings also had a disability that restricted their activity; her brother lay naked on the floor of the sitting area. We continued on along the dusty path to see family areas littered with rubbish, and houses made from discarded pieces of metal and wood, barbed wire caught on our clothes, and children, who should have been at school, sat clicking rocks together, unsure of our presence. This was a whole new world.
The kampung was so vastly different from the life we enjoyed in Australia, we didn’t have to worry about food or education, I slept soundly each night trusting that my children were warm and safe in their beds and experienced a peacefulness that my children were happy and felt loved. I wondered whether the parents in the kampung were able to feel the same way, I fear they do not.
The visit to the kampung cemented how desperately change was needed, but now I pondered whether we could do enough to make a difference. I didn’t have to think on this for long, because shortly after our visit to the kampung Geoff and Chris picked the kids up from the kampung and another area and returned to Akademi Kristus. The children’s faces shone with joy, they were so excited about being involved in the Akademi’s program. When Erma asked some of the younger children if they wanted to do learn or do martial arts, there was a chorus of ‘belajar, belajar, belajar’, ‘study’ they chimed together.
While the older kids boxed and rolled, the younger children sat diligently making pencil holders from icypole sticks, they were so focussed and so keen to complete their creations. During the class it was as though the kampung didn’t exist.
We have often heard the phrase that you cannot take the person out of a slum you must take the slum out of the person, and that is exactly what Akademi Kristus is doing. Akademi Kristus is creating opportunities for young people to learn and develop, they foster hope, they empower individuals and they genuinely care for children and youth attending their program. My ponderings of ‘can we do enough?’, were surely answered. Not only is Akademi Kristus changing the future of tomorrow, they are changing lives today.
Visiting Akademi Kristus was the absolute highlight of our holiday, we cannot wait to return, but in the meantime we feel so privileged to be able to support Akademi Kristus from Australia.