Jakarta, 22 January 2013
I am in Indonesia from the Australia New Zealand province for six weeks. This is the first entry of a weekly diary of my impressions. I am looking at this situation as an outsider even though the Society symbols in our communities immediately make me feel at home. Our Lady of Sorrows is enshrined in the garden of Lentang Agung. However, I am also jolted out of my RSCJ familiarity when I see the frequent use of the word ‘Barat’ on street signs in Jakarta. In Indonesian, barat means ‘west’. I suspect that having my assumptions unsettled will be an ongoing experience during this time.
I have come here expecting and looking forward to being challenged by this multi-faith environment. However, that idea becomes secondary when it rains for three days after I arrive and Jakarta is flooded. Each day on the front page of Kompas, the daily newspaper, there are photos of main streets under water, children being towed in rubber boats and even some men holding a three meter python which was caught in the water. Signs of destruction are everywhere. One of the most distressing sights is a photo of the garbage which becomes evident when the water subsides. The torrential rain has compounded the problem of waste management in the infrastructure of this crowded city.
Closer to home, the Kebon Anas community has its own troubles. The chapel and lower floor are flooded and need to be cleared of water. Students at the school have had to stay away. There is a supply of clothing to distribute to local victims of the flood thanks to our network here. When I comment on how rapidly things change here, the RSCJ say, “This is our life.”
Anne Corry, rscj
Province of Australia-New Zealand