• Bukit Lawang Trust

Fitri and the BLT

This week’s blog is written in collaboration with our longest serving member of staff here at the Trust – none other than the wonderful Fitri Madewi. Fitri is our cook, assistant teacher, transport and logistics coordinator and all-round Ibu (Mum) for all of the volunteers here – she is the one that looks after us when we’re sick and gives us lifts home when it’s raining. She has been interviewed by our Head of Education about her experiences here at the Trust and this is what she had to say.

Rosie: When did you start working at the Trust?

Fitri: ‘Oh my god so long! 2008. I started working here because people needed help at the Hospital. I started cooking here and I was also an assistant in the Hospital. The Doctors would tell me which medicine was needed and I would find it and prepare it. It meant that I learnt a lot about medicine because I knew which medicines the Doctor gave to people – now when I have fever, I know what to do. When it was a hospital I used to live here, I started living here in 2008. Because it was a hospital and there was only me and the Doctor and the Nurse and so me and two nurses lived here to look after the patients overnight. I was really scared of blood. On the Sunday there was no Doctor here, just me and a nurse, one time we had to call an ambulance, but it took too long to come, I was only 17 or 18.

Rosie: When did you stop going to school?

Fitri: The same year I started working here. I finished school a year early because my parents were struggling to find the money to pay for me and my sister to go to school. We have to pay the school to go there and then we also have to pay the bus there and it was too much. My sister kept going because she is younger than me. I used to really like school because I wasn’t just friends with students, I was also close with the teachers. I like going to school reunions because I get to see all my old teachers!

Rosie: Did you prefer it when it became a school – it sounds less scary than when it was a hospital!?

Fitri: Yes! It meant I can learn English – before I couldn’t speak any! When it first became a school me and Aini still used to live here, I stopped staying here 2016 and I stopped working here because I thought I might look for another job. I worked in Berstagi in a restaurant for 6 months and then I came back home. The owner was so sad when I left because I was friendly to the all the customers! I always still visited the Trust though even when I didn’t work here. When Aini left the Trust to study and another staff member left to get married, I came back to take care of the volunteers because there was no one else. So, I started back here again with my friends. For half a year there was no volunteers so I learnt to do all the Manager jobs – like the budget! It’s difficult doing that kind of job, people want their wages and its hard to make sure we have enough every month. I wouldn’t want to be Manager because its hard for charity to find money.

Rosie: What’s your favourite thing about the Trust now?

Fitri: My favourite thing about the Trust now is being an Assistant Teacher. It means I get to learn alongside the children when you are teaching, because there’s still lots of things I don’t know in English.

Rosie: What’s your favourite meal to cook here at the Trust?

Fitri: Pumpkin curry! Oh I change – Jackfruit.

Rosie: What Indonesian food should all Bules (tourists/foreigners) try?

Fitri: Sambal Tempe! Because they say that they haven’t tried before. And samabal kachan.

Rosie: Do you like working with Bules?

Fitri: Yes. It’s fun!

Rosie: What’s different between working with bules and Indonesians?

Fitri: I think, in Indonesia we work in morning until afternoon, but we work Monday until Sunday, we don’t have a weekend. If I work at an Indonesian school I have to work every day.

Rosie: What would you tell a new volunteer looking to come here?

Fitri: I would tell them about culture, its different from you. Like in Indonesia we aren’t allowed to live together in house before we are married, but in your culture your allowed to live with boyfriend. Here, you can’t use your left hand to hand people things. We also have to respect our elders- your younger than me so you have to respect me! Oooh I also want to tell them no short clothes here! Indonesians like me and Tri know when we have upset each other, and we know and understand how to make it better – you don’t always understand so then we have to explain!

Rosie: What 5 Bahasa words or phrases would you recommend people learn before they come here?

Fitri: 1- Siapa Nama Kamu – What is your name?

2 – Berepa Umur Kamu? – How old are you

3 – Kamu dari mana? – Where are you from?

4 – Apa Kabar? – How are you?

5- Kamu mau kemana? – Where are you going?

Rosie: If you could go anywhere in the world to see another culture where would you go??

Fitri: I want to visit Germany, because so many of our past volunteers live there and I want to go visit them all! England have lots too, but Germany more interesting – I want to see Janine and Muriel!

Rosie: Do you have a favourite memory from working here?

Fitri: So many!

Fitri Madewi - Transport Coordinator, Cook and Assistant Teacher

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