First, practical answers:
- It's a three-weeks holiday and Dhanu needs an activity to fill his days
- Salam is held by EcoEthno, an organization led and mobilized by a trusted friend of mine, Ihsan
- Dhanu is allowed to join even though he's not a Moslem
- I and Syb looked through the program schedule and agree that it is good for Dhanu to join (more about this, below)
- When explained and asked about Salam, Dhanu said he's willing to join this program
Then, answers with slightly-deeper thoughts:
- Although called pesantren, this one is unlike the usual ones that make the kids sitting neat and chanting prayers the whole day and night, learning religion and disciplines in closed doors. Salam is a practice of religion in real life, emphasizing closeness and respect to nature and (consequently) gratefulness to The Maker. Moreover, Salam also offers outbound activities, which is a way for a person (even a young child) to discover him/herself. To know their own limits and abilities. We've observed that - especially in physical activities - Dhanu is very cautious of everything he's about to do. However, appearing somewhat reluctant, he doesn't give up until he achieves his aims. He has his own way of calculating his moves - although seemingly slow and even frightened. So we think this trip is a good training for his confidence.
- The fact that he's not a Moslem doesn't seem to be a problem for the organizer, and I'm glad to know that. Here's our view. Dhanu is now living in a country with the highest number of Muslims in the world. He might as well be familiar with their customs and learn to live among them pleasantly. I think this is no difference from me going along with neighborhood girls of my age to a Qur'an class when I was a little girl, or from when my Moslem cousin joined a Vacation Bible School at another cousin's church during a school holiday. There's no harm in learning to know each other, isn't there.
Here's an overview of Salam's program from 1 to 5 July 2007:
In the first three nights the kids will stay in local people's houses and living according to these people's rhythms and activities (farming, minding livestocks, etc.). They will mingle and play with local children; eat what they eat and sleep where they sleep. In the fourth (and last) night, they will stay in tents, learn to make fire and cook outdoors. They will do 'outbound' games in the forest, make bamboo rafts and sail a lake.
In the last day, the 5th, parents are allowed to pick up their kids at the location. We'll see if I can get a ride to Ciwidey that morning and fetch Dhanu over there. That day, parents are allowed to 'taste' some outdoor games as well. I'm looking forward to doing it!
Dhanu has been looking forward to this event. The way he talked about it, he seems to have a scenario in his head already of what 'camping' is. Only after seeing some photos from previous Salam that he knew that this is not the one with marshmallows-on-fireplace variation. But he's still eager to go and kept singing, "Camping, camping, lalalalalaa!". He asked me to pack also a notebook and a pencil so he can draw what he sees that day ("Perhaps an owl!", he said).
So, this morning he was sitting in the bus, paying attention to his surroundings. He's the youngest of the pack, and whose Indonesian language skill is the lowest. I hope he doesn't feel outcasted when he doesn't understand his peers. When the bus left, he waved at us with a straight face. Lindri, on the other hand, screamed and cried while stretching her arm to the direction of the departing bus: she didn't like Dhanu leaving her behind. She expressed loudly what I felt deep inside. Separation anxiety happens to adults as well and we just have to face it, one way or another.
Gladly Lindri could be calmed down a few minutes later, when we were about to catch an angkot. This is Dhanu's first night in Ciwidey and I'm curious about how he's doing. May he fare well and return healthy and happy!
Photos coming up (from previous Salam, courtesy of EcoEthno)