Participants of the 1000 Guru are matched up with local children to teach various skills and lessons. A small fee for the program covers accommodation, meals and other activities, as well as a donation to the host village. Photographs courtesy of 1000 Guru

Explore Villages Where the Kids Think You’re a Hero

APRIL 08, 2015

Participants of the 1000 Guru are matched up with local children to teach various skills and lessons. A small fee for the program covers accommodation, meals and other activities, as well as a donation to the host village. Photographs courtesy of 1000 Guru

Indonesia, an archipelago comprising more than 17,000 islands waits to be explored by curious wanderlustful souls. However, hidden behind the naturalistic beauty and awaiting adventures are communities living in extreme poverty and are often invisible to society. A nonprofit organization, 1000 Guru (1,000 Teachers) is dedicated to broadening the horizons of travelers not only by discovering new places, but to travel with a cause without luxury and technology, while shedding light on the communities.

Established in 2012, 1000 Guru began merely as a social media account which shared pictures and quotes of children and families living in unfortunate conditions in the remotest areas of Indonesia. “These citizens are somewhat undetected by the outside community and travelers,” said 1000 Guru founder Jemi Ngadiono. Jemi dedicated part of his career as a cinematographer to documenting village life.

“The initial purpose of the site was to expose these communities to the government and strongly motivate them to focus in education and living conditions of the underprivileged in Indonesia.”

The posts managed to attract an astounding number of followers in a short period of time. Some even inquired if they could be a part of Jemi’s journey and help the cause. “I was overwhelmed by the outpouring support, which inspired me to further help the unfortunate by involving the followers to hop along while simultaneously promoting the beauty of Indonesia’s hidden gems,” Jemi said. “Our first program, Travel and Teaching, was born.”

Participants of the 1000 Guru are matched up with local children to teach various skills and lessons. A small fee for the program covers accommodation, meals and other activities, as well as a donation to the host village. Photographs courtesy of 1000 Guru

The Travel and Teaching program consists of 30 registered participants who join the crew for a two or three-night trip to remote islands in Indonesia. “Aside from traveling to beautiful undiscovered places, the aim is to live with the community, experience their lifestyle and to interact with children through education, all in extreme back-packer style,” 30-year-old Jemi said. The program takes place every month, and more than 200 people ranging between the ages of 20 and 40-years-old participating. The participants include diverse professions such as doctors, bankers, teachers, and celebrities, including last year’s winner and runners-up of the Puteri Indonesia beauty pageant. Participants are given an itinerary which includes several adventurous activities with a full day of teaching and community service.

“While teaching, we are divided into groups of four per class to teach various skills or lessons according to the children’s age and our individual capabilities,” said Emil Kusumo, a dedicated volunteer with 1000 Guru.

“We also interact, support and motivate them to chase their dreams. I was hooked by this program ever since my first trip to Ujung Kulon. With this program, your story and efforts will be passed down through generations.” Participants pay a fee of between Rp 300,000 ($23) and Rp 600,000 ,which covers a donation to the community, accommodation, transportation, meals and other activities such as snorkeling, hiking and more.

“Keep your expectations low and mentality strong because it is not a luxury trip,” said Emil, a freelancer in the entertainment industry.  “We travel by bus, stay in schools, eat on banana leaves, share a toilet, sometimes we barely have electricity or access to flowing water — but it is all in the name of a life-changing experience.”

“Aside from the children, we want the participants to also learn from this experience and see a different world,” said Andry Abboud, public relations officer with 1000 Guru.  “We travel on a low budget because we want volunteers to be more grateful for their lives, to depend on each other during hardships without the help of technology and materialistic items. We want them to build life long bonds with strangers, share adventures. Also, to walk in the shoes of these communities momentarily to understand life beyond their comfort zones and most importantly to be motivated to make a difference in these communities’ lives.”

Photographs courtesy of 1000 Guru

Currently, 1000 Guru is established in eight cities around Java, but in the long run, it aims to be able to cover at least 30 provinces with the program per month.  “For every trip made with 30 participants, we are able to help almost 2,000 children. If a trip is made to every province, each with 30 people teaching and bringing donations, then we would have 1,000 people simultaneously making a difference every month, multiplying the effect it will have on our country,” said Jemi.1000 Guru has other regional programs, such as scholarships for teachers in rural areas, campaigns such as “Hormati Gurumu” (“Respect Your Teachers”), and online fundraising with the aim of empowering local communities.

For further information, contact the organization via Twitter @1000Guru.

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