In August of last year, I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to travel to West Timor, Indonesia with Opportunity International (OI).
As Alecto’s Charity Ambassador I have managed all of our donations and work with OI for a number of years now and was excited to be able to spend 3 days travelling and meeting with those that our donations have helped.
When we arrived in Kupang, West Timor, it was very different to being in Bali as it was obvious that we were the only tourists around (or that we were just so beautiful that people couldn’t stop staring). We met up with TLM who partners with OI and oversees their programs in the region and were treated to dinner and a traditional dance.
The next two days consisted of travelling around the area and stopping at various villages on the way to Soe. We joined two groups of women for their weekly meeting. It was fantastic to see the support that they give each other and to see just how much their lives had changed since getting their micro-loan. They were so grateful to us and were excited to all snap a selfie with us (and stuff us full of donuts which I later regretted).
However, this is not the only work OI does. They also run projects with villages that are not ready to receive microloans which help them learn about economics such as a community co-op and a community garden.
One story on the trip stood out to me the most. We went up to visit the community garden and there we met Yohana. At 12 years old a person had offered to take her to Jakarta so she could attend school. This person was a human trafficker. She was taken to live in the jungle on the border of Malaysia for months with a group of other children, when the time was right, they were smuggled across the border to work at a plantation for no money. Her family had no idea what had happened to her. After a few years she was given to the owner’s friend to work as a maid, it was 10 years before she made it home. We may never know exactly what happened to her along the way however she now says she is happy to be at home with her family, plant vegetables and sell them to make an income.
This trip was humbling. It is astounding how little some of these families have and how they live. You can’t even compare it to anything that we have in Australia. But they are always smiling, laughing, welcoming and the change that OI’s work makes so much difference.
Alecto is committed to continuing to support OI’s work in the coming years. If you would like to make your own donation, you can visit https://fundraising.opportunity.org.au/alectoaustraliafund