• Bukit Lawang Trust

Life Swap - An Australian Family Spend Three Weeks in the Jungle

Oscar (my twelve year old son) and I recently embarked on a new journey as volunteers for the Bukit Lawang Trust. The Trust was established in 2003 in response to a flash flood which destroyed much of the community and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of local people. Initially, the building was used as a clinic, but it is now operating as an education centre providing, free English language tuition and Conservation classes, as well as a daily Kindergarten.

In our 3 weeks stay with the Trust, Oscar and I are supporting to deliver English lessons to the kids. There are kindergarten classes in the morning and afternoon English classes with a combined estimate of 200 + children, we are helping with all of these sessions.

After the program, I intend to continue supporting the Bukit Lawang community with an Action at Home project and send in any funds raised. I already have an idea of what I intend to do and I will need your support and patience so please keep an eye out on this space!

5 things that are most notable on this journey for Oscar and I include:

Staff – Sam Oakes – Our first night at Medan Kuala Namu airport we were greeted by Sam who is also a volunteer at the Trust. Sam is the Head of Conservation & Manager. I would describe Sam as a young, positive man with big dreams for this community. Sam is kick starting a new program that is very exciting territory. He intends to award some local businesses, who complete the new YSE programme, with sponsorship, in exchange for sustainability being in-cooperated into their work. Sam is also a personal trainer, so I have been very fortunate during my stay because I have been on runs and participated in Sam’s aerobic classes.

All the staff at the Trust are very friendly and pleasant and I could write pages on each one of their strengths. But I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them for their assistance and support whilst Oscar and I stayed at the Trust.

Children – You will be embraced with the warm and friendly attitudes of the younger children in the morning and this enthusiasm continues with the older children in the afternoon.

Jungle Trekking – At the weekend, we went on a two day and one-night jungle trek, which was the highlight for Oscar and the detriment of my knees! The slopes are very steep and slippery in the jungle. We saw orangutans, a jungle turtle and a lot of monkeys. Our guides were very good and come highly recommended. My shoes did not withstand the jungle and the sole fell off! One of the guides offered me his shoes and he was walking in throngs during the trek. The scenery is magnificent and the river rafting was probably the highlight for me, as well as being so close to the orangutans. Oscar and I also sat under a waterfall.

Volunteer, Richard Cann – There is a room dedicated to Richard in the Trust. It is to remember him, as he died from a heart defect when he was only 24 whilst volunteering. Richard was from England and is sorely missed by his friends here in Bukit Lawang - having a community room dedicated to him is a lovely way to continue his legacy.

Challenges– Tropical, humid weather, mosquito bites, power outages and squatting for the toilet! And maybe food. While Fitri, who is the main multi-tasker here at the Trust, is a great cook, the food here is a very different from my normal diet in Sydney. There are a lot of noodles and rice and thus I do miss variety - and steak!!

Libby Huang

Education Volunteer from Australia

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