Butet Manurung, Indonesian woman who dedicating her life for child tribe education

Do you believe that in this world there are people who willing to leave modern civilization and prefer to live secluded in the jungle? Maybe some of you think that it is impossible, or even stupid and silly. But who would have thought that the person really existed and would rather live in the jungle than live comfortably with all the luxury of urban sprawl, that person named Saur Marlina Manurung.

Saur Marlina Manurung, or better known as Butet Manurung is a graduate of the Anthropology University of Padjadjaran who has a strong commitment and submitted her dedication to becoming a teacher for tribal children in the hinterland of Jambi province. For her dedication as an alternative pioneer and educator for rural communities in Indonesia, in 2014 Butet won the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Butet Manurung, Second from right when receiving Magsaysay award

Batak-born women who born in Jakarta, February 21, 1972, is indeed a love of adventure. During college, she took two majors at once, Anthropology and Indonesian Literature at Padjadjaran University of Bandung. Graduated as a bachelor and master in Anthropology, Butet worked at the Conservation Information Store or WARSI, an NGO that concentrated on forest conservation issues in Sumatra, in 1999.

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The mission given to Butet Manurung at the time was to teach reading and writing to tribe children in the conservation area of Bukit Duabelas National Park or Bunaken National Park, Jambi, South Sumatra. This is the beginning of Butet Manurung and her four friends founded Sokola.

Sokola is a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities for marginal communities across the archipelago. Butet Manurung’s struggle to establish Sokola is not an easy matter. Years in and out of the forest and rejected outright by Insiders, because they fear that education will change their customs. Even the threat of a beast is an unforgettable experience for her.

Butet Manurung when giving a lesson to tribe children

In giving the teaching, Butet must adjust the educational pattern to the living conditions of the people there, because their need for education is not like the educational needs of the community in general, as well as the time, Butet must respect when there is a certain ritual or ceremony held so in that day all of her students get day off.

So far Butet’s effort is riskable, because of her teaching, young people of Kubu tribe who work in as a freelancer is able to read, write, and count so that no longer fooled by the elements of the company that takes advantage of the ignorance of local society , whether for work or wages and even some criticize the condition of the forest where they live that increasingly marginalized, consequently many unscrupulous individuals whose illegal business are interrupted by the actions taken by Butet so they send a lot of threats to Butet may she no longer to teach. Similar challenges also come from within the forest itself, not from humans but from wild animals that live there, such as cobras or bears. Butet tells during the jungle she often ‘runs’ with them and, learning from experience, she follows the tribe’s way to save herself.

Butet Manurung when sharing her experience in one of Indonesia tv show

However, there is no good thing that is in vain. As an educator and activist, Butet Manurung has received numerous international awards. Such Man and Biosphere (UNESCO / 2011), Hero of Asia (TIME Magazine / 2004), Ashoka Fellow (2006), Asia Young Leader (2007), Young Global Leader (2009), Ernst and Young Indonesian Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2012), and the Asia Nobel Prize (Ramon Magsaysay Award / 2014).

Butet Manurung in Time Magazine

Completed her master’s degree in Applied Anthropology, Butet Manurung continued her studies at Australian National University in Participatory Development in 2012. She also attended the Global Leadership and Public Policy course at Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, USA. This journey of life he wrote in a book called Sokola Rimba which appeared in 2007 and has been translated into English entitled The Jungle School in 2012.

Book by Butet Manurung

From the experience of Butet Manurung we can learn the lesson, that life is not a mere pleasure, but life is an opportunity for us to how much and able for us to benefit all of mankind.

Reference: InsideIndonesia.org

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