Our second day in Banda and we were each ready to get out and do some good. We took a drive to the village of Lombardo. IBB, Indonesia Bangkit Bersama, our hosting NGO, and Bridgeway church specifically, had established a relationship with Lombardo on November 2005. This is the village that was shunned by many of the NGOs because it’s the village that housed most of the Free Aceh insurgents and lots of fighting was going on pre-tsunami days between the rebels and the Indonesian government. The team prior to mine spent a lot of time digging wells and we were told a new community center had been framed, the materials bought by my organization. About an hour's drive from where we were living, we piled into the back of the van, tools, and gloves in hand, ready to do whatever was needed.
Once we arrived, however, we found out through our interpreter that most of the village was out participating in a wedding ceremony and the only thing they asked us to do was a pickup. We stacked bricks, sorted lumber, cleared garbage away. And sweated. At that time we were each wearing our jilbabs so it was difficult to maintain much energy. I had brought a pair of gloves from home, so glad because the coodies and critters as I was lifting lumber made me a bit squeamish.
The few remaining men there checked us out. Although they were friendly, I felt uncomfortable. We left but were asked to come back the next day
Which we did, again, ready to work. Low and behold, what do we find? 100 men had already gathered together and were in the process of laying tin on the roof! Our interpreter said he’s never seen so many men come to help at any of their projects. We all suspect it was because we were a team of women, and to have us working would be disgraceful in their eyes. He also told us to keep our distance from the men because they hold very dear their own personal boundaries and women are not to invade. This fact was demonstrated to me later on in the week as I was talking with a local man and without much thought, touched him on his upper arm. He about jumped out of his skin. Then I remember one of the instructions we were given upon arrival was to never touch a Muslim man.
We meandered over to the women’s section where all the kids were and made friends instantly. By the way, we were told that morning that we didn't need to wear the Jilbobs for most of our time there. They knew we weren't Muslims and had by now seen plenty of Westerners without coverings. I had that thing off my head faster than you can imagine. I came to despise what it stood for. But that was just me. The other girls did okay. In the beginning, when were each wearing them all the time, Sarah asked me, "Deborah, you want me to tuck your hair under the scarf? It's " I barked " NO!"
It's just too friggen hot. Get real.