March 2013


Doctrine divides, Action unites

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Learning from I Ngurah Putu Setiawan

Suwarti Ningsih

Art is a means for Ngurah and the other children to express their
views about peace, harmony and conflict in their community

Indonesia is famous as a multicultural country, and Leboni is one of the multicultural villages in Poso District on the island of Sulawesi. There are many different tribes living there, one of which is the Balinese community of about 70 households. Although the majority of the ethnic Balinese people are Hindus, they live in harmony and respect people who practice other faiths. For instance, when the Hindu holiday of Galungan takes place, Christian and Muslim friends come to visit them. Similarly, during Christmas and Idul Fitri, the Balinese people also visit them.

On March 22, we had a meeting with junior high school students to talk about creatively using media to bring about harmony as an extracurricular activity in school. At the meeting, there were 10 children and eight teachers and headmasters from seven junior high schools. One of the student participants was I Ngurah Putu Setiawan from Tonusu Junior High School, a 13-year-old student in seventh grade from the Balinese community of Leboni who is called Ngurah by his friends.

During the program, I mentored the children’s group, and my friend mentored the teachers and headmasters. In the children’s group, we discussed about what is peace and harmony, what is conflict and how to reflect peace and harmony by what we say and do. It was so exciting to me when I read the suggestions of each group of children, for some of them wrote that we should respect people who are different because difference is a beautiful thing or helping their friends when they face bad situations promotes peace and harmony or there is peace and harmony when there is no hatred.

When I stopped at Ngurah’s group, suddenly he asked me, “If I try to make posters about peace and harmony and talk about stopping violence against children, is it OK?”

The question of Ngurah made me suddenly say thanks to God for giving us children like Ngurah who want to make peace in their community.

He then added, “I would like to put this on the school wall so that every child can see and read then what makes peace also.”

It was a simple message but such an inspiration to me.

Later we facilitated Ngurah and his friend to make a concept and begin drawing.

Another gratifying aspect of this story for me is that Ngurah comes from a farming family, and this does not inhibit his intention to make peace for his community.

* Suwarti Ningsih is a staff member of World Vision Indonesia who works with children and women in Poso and Tentena in Central Sulawesi, especially children and women affected by violence between the Christian and Muslim communities. She is a 2010 alumni of the School of Peace held in Bangalore, India, by ICF.