Sayap Ilmu 5th Mission Trip: “Kepakan Sayap, Terbang Tinggi”

One of the first things I was introduced to as Sayap Ilmu co-leader was our team motto. An emblem of what we believe in as an organisation. Coming into the job I had only thought of it as another thing I had to keep consistent in all our promotional materials, but it wasn’t until I had gone on the trip that I’d realise what our motto really meant.

I had first joined Sayap Ilmu on its 4th mission trip to Maumere which is in the Sikka regency in Flores. My friend, Annette, had come up to me asking if I would want to go on the trip with her, a friend who would also later come to lead Sayap Ilmu with me. I did a quick search on Sayap Ilmu itself and one of the first things I saw on the website was its vision. “Broadening the insights of Indonesian children who reside in the remote areas of the country through improving literacy.” I had plans to pursue education after high school and this organisation seemed to go along with my ambitions so I thought why not join. It’s safe to say I don’t regret the trip one bit. I was mostly impressed by how quickly the kids I taught were able to improve in the span of only two days with their theatre performances. They went from being too shy to play charades to putting on a full play. They needed only the smallest of nudges to actualise their potential.

I had gone on this year’s trip with the same expectations as the last trip, to make kids realise that they can be more than what they already are. My biggest takeaway from this year’s trip was that sometimes I needed to look for the smaller victories when it comes to teaching these kids. I was expecting to see these radical changes such as the kind I saw last year. But I failed to realise sooner that even though there was no drastic change, we still managed to improve at least some part of their lives. In my village team, the boys were much quieter and reserved ones since the community dynamic placed the girls as more dominant, but because we actively included them into class discussions, they became more open and willing to interact. It was learning to look for these miracles that made me feel as though all our hard work was worth it. If we could at least change one aspect of their lives for the better then it’s all worth it.

This year, we brought five programs onto the trip including poetry, crafts, theatre, reading games, and a mural team to three villages, Desa Pocolia, Desa Golo Nderu, and Desa Lento. We also held two days of reading camp in which a select 103 students are brought into Ruteng from their villages where they would be introduced to literary elements with the end goal of having them write their own local folktales to be published into a collection of children’s stories.

One of our teams serving in Desa Pocolia had taught the kids how to make piggy banks. They shared during our team evaluations that some of the kids had to miss the first day to work at the coffee fields, but they came the next day with their day’s wages ready to put in their piggy banks proudly telling them, “Kakak, I’ve put money in it, see!” One of the kids even told our team members that with that piggy bank, they would save up so they could visit us in Jakarta in the future. The testimony had even driven our supervisor to tears. To us, what we were doing was just what we had to do but we didn’t really capture the weight of how much it meant to the kids that we were doing this trip.

What we wanted for these kids was to realise the potential they’ve always had in them. To exercise the wings that they’ve had all along, to make them realise that it’s not because of their kakak-kakak that they are able to perform or write poetry. We wanted them to realise that they can soar high by the power of their God-given wings. That was when I really understood what our motto meant. Kepakkan sayap, terbang tinggi. Flap YOUR wings and YOU’LL soar high. Knowledge is what allows us to fly and it is our job as an organisation to provide the best for these kids not only for themselves but for Indonesia as well.

(Nisya Tiffany Salim, Grade 12)