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12-Mar-2018
Butet Manurung: Indonesian Indigenous People Advocate
 
 
Her name is Saur Marlina Manurung, an "Indiana Jones" from Indonesia. Indonesian majority public, even abroad, better knows her as Butet Manurung. Generation of 2000 maybe knows her after the publication of Sokola Rimba movie at the end of 2013. A movie that tales Butet's life story as a teacher in the wild.

Butet likes reading, and this passion of reading made her love the world of adventures and at once fostered her potential to be an initiator or a pioneer.

Endowed with reliable intelligence, excel in many school subjects made Butet's heart is moved to help her friends who were left behind. From here, her talent as a teacher is slowly honed. That experience has fostered a rich creativity inside Butet which apparently later would be very useful when Butet teaches in the wild.

As an educator, Butet is principled that a good teacher is a teachers who is able to learn from their students and learn from imperfections of previous teachers. Butet really applied that principle when becoming a teacher for the Anak Dalam tribe in the jungle of Jambi. Butet taught read and write with anthropological approach whilst she studied from her students about the language and the wisdom of the hinterland.


Graduated from the high school, Butet continued her study at Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung. Two fields of study were taken at once. Butet studied whilst giving piano lessons and taught mathematics. After 7 years of college while undergoing up and down the mountains activities and received a letter of threat of drop out, Butet finally won two degrees, anthropology and Indonesian literature.

Butet had worked at a research institution on her campus until one day she saw a job opening from Komunitas Konservasi Indonesia (KKI) Warsi, to become a lecturer for jungle people in Jambi. Butet felt moved and believed that the work is in accordance with the call of her heart. From there Butet started a new stage that changed the whole fate of his life.

From 1999 to 2003, Butet trekked into the jungle interior, becoming a teacher for Anak Dalam tribe in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Jambi. Butet and her students have no permanent classrooms. They studied while sitting on the fallen tree trunk or on the rocks. Butet tried hard to introduce the alphabets and numbers in the jungle people. Her kindness was not as simple as it is accepted. Butet could feel the despair because of the rejection of the indigenous people. They were afraid of being cheated and even assume that education is something that violates custom and culture. But Butet did not give up, and she found that the jungle people needed to be convinced, not to be forced, and so she kept trying.

Four years old struggling together with the jungle people, Butet finally feel the results. Literacy skills make the jungle people have power. Butet argues that literacy can lead indigenous peoples go to anywhere. They will understand the legal issues, especially about illegal logging, they will not easily deceived anymore, they know how to defend their property.


The experience with the jungle people consolidates Butet's steps to work more for indigenous peoples. In 2003, together with four colleagues Butet established an organization called SOKOLA which aims to provide learning opportunities for indigenous communities and marginalized groups in remote areas of Indonesia. During 14 years of establishment, SOKOLA has been active in 15 regions, spread from Sumatra, Sulawesi, NTT to Papua. Some have been able to operate independently or taken over by LSM and local governments. There are still 4 SOKOLA currently running, namely in Jambi, Jember, Kajang and Papua.

SOKOLA has a target of 4 years operating in an area. There are at least 4 or 5 SOKOLA in various indigenous communities. Together with community members, SOKOLA establishes common goals, understands problems and creates success indicators. SOKOLA targets are simple, if indigenous communities are able to solve their own problems, then they have succeeded. In Flores, SOKOLA ran smoothly, the indigenous community was quickly able to solve some of their own problems, such as the problem of fish bombs, making their own rules, the courage of community members to run for village heads, even the female members had dared to speak up in the village forums. Another case with Jambi that has problems that keep changing, so it has been 17 years SOKOLA activity is not completed.

While struggling through SOKOLA, Butet still holds a great vision, namely that indigenous communities or native inland people, have their own curriculum that is different from the conventional curriculum. According to Butet, indigenous peoples tend to be viewed from two opposite sides, a paradox. Because they live in fragile ecosystems, they are considered the best natural guards as well as the worst enemies, as legitimate residents and dangerous encroachers of forest, as a barometer of ecological diversity and just a footnote of economic or political conflict. In Indonesia, this paradox extends into the moral realm. For some, indigenous peoples are pure natural symbols, cultural diversity, simple life symbols. But for others, including for the state, indigenous peoples represent poverty, a symbol of underdevelopment and obstacles to progress.

In addition to fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples, Butet furthermore aspires that volunteerism to become an Indonesian culture. A tough nation is born of a caring society, who help each other unconditionally, empathize with the poor and marginalized and those who are unable to speak out against injustice. Butet wants a voluntary movement develops in Indonesia. According to her, everyone, especially the youth, should have experienced to become a volunteer at least once all their life. According to Butet, being a volunteer should be done before someone pursue the profession he likes. It trains to foster self-worth, train to be happy for volunteering or giving. Volunteering is actually a talent that exists for everyone. Each person can be him or herself if he or she is happy because he or she is beneficial to others.


Summarize from: https://pembaharublog.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/butet-manurung/
 
 
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