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Birds of a Feather Flock Together: My Bajawa Trip pt 1

There is something familiarly unfamiliar in the islands of Eastern Indonesia. High altitudes and cool air. Mountains and churches. The first city I visited in East Nusa Tenggara is reminiscent of the first city I lived in Northern Italy. Bajawa, your sister city is Rovereto. Other than that, everything feels unique. Women are called “Mama” or “Tante” (aunt) and men are called “Om” (Uncle). Because of this, everyone feels like family. The place feels cozy. Beautiful genuine people, building beautiful genuine communities, farms, and most importantly, coffee.

Bajawa (left) and Rovereto (right)

Fabian from the think-team back from a short business trip to Bajawa. Too much to say, too little time. I will spare some stories for the other giftmakers to share, so I will make this post a shoutout to the amazing people I met. Starting from Day 1.

We arrived with friend of friend who soon became a friend. Mas Gagang, born and raised in Madiun, East Java, is a vet specializing in those with more than one stomach (Ruminantia). Funnily, we invited him to Bajawa to train farmers to manage agriculture waste (specifically coffee) and turn it into livestock feed. While I came to install biogas to manage livestock manure, Gagang came to close the loop for a completely circular farm. But what I wanted to highlight was Mas Gagang’s ability in teaching farmers. His enthusiasm and perfectly timed delivery of discount dad jokes made his substance-heavy material easily digestible. A comedian, doctor, and farmer altogether, he has all the resources to engage with anyone. I was slapped hard, realizing I have lots to learn to communicate with different people. Despite his dry humor, his contagious smile and amazing aura are and will be unforgettable.

On the third day, we visited the Legendary Fransiskus, also known as Om Frans. I came to replace his broken biogas digester. I’ve been exposed to a handful of amazing farmers, but Om Frans is like no other. The deep genuine dedication cannot be described with words, just actions. I cannot fully cover my respect in this one post. An ex-government officer, now a trailblazer in creating a fully organic farm. Zero synthetic fertilizers, zero pesticides. Just smart farming, using ginger in-between crops and pig manure as natural pesticides. His preaches are more resourceful than a webinar by some random dude who’s never touched soil. In this video, he was explaining how he paid his neighbor for bringing him cow manure. The neighbor was confused, Om Frans explained “I thank you for bringing manure, as you have brought fertilizer for possibly hundreds of my plants”. Outside of this video, he kept saying “manure is not dirty, what are my descendants going to eat if we continue to use chemicals”. Amazed is an understatement.

On our last night, we were searching for food, specifically Pecel and Ayam Geprek. While walking someone shouted my name, it was Onok, a Balinese Videographer that I’ve worked with once. What an insanely small world! He was with a group, guided by Augustinus, also known as Om Gusti. I cannot begin to explain the difference in mentality of people in this area. We were simply explaining what we did on our trip and Om Gusti's eyes were sparkling. He was ready for us to come back and give a workshop for him and his farmer community. We shared our contacts and continued to exchange knowledge about life. Had we chosen a different Warung, we would have never met him. His wisdom will be forever remembered.

Om Gusti (left) and Bli Onok (right)

And of course, this post would not be complete without Om Rikardus. The one who made all of this possible. Single-handedly installed biogas digesters without supervision. Farmer, researcher, coffee enthusiast. The man with nothing but pure intentions. Om Rikardus, my respect for you is immeasurable.

This is all just the gist of it. I just cannot contain so much information in one blog. Instead, would like to highlight the people I crossed paths with. I am not someone who really believes in 'destiny', but in a way I do. I believe that the right people come at the right time. Always. No matter where I go, whoever I meet will always result in an invaluable exchange. Almost as if it was planned.

My question to you readers: who are the few people in your life that you unexpectedly met and unexpectedly changed your perspective in life?

Bajawa, I long to be back. Tima Ti'i Woso.

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Sep 29, 2021

A beautiful story from a beautiful place and warm-hearted people :)

I want to visit Bajawa someday ^^ I have some experience in meeting some people unexpectedly and changing my perspective about life. I should thank all people who I met in organizations, remote villages, Jogja, and Melbourne. I learn and grow :D


Sep 28, 2021

Well, other than my family, I should thank my peers during my master degree. As you say, too much to say, but those friends change my perspective about many things in work and personal life ;) so, the persons you cross path with will also make you grow

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