Budi, a thief grows into an army

"Bu Agui," said Budi, when he reminiscences the times he learnt to know alphabets and numbers for the first time in Bukit Dua Belas National Park. Budi is only a simple name given by a shaman (generally known as midwife at the moment) who welcomed him in Asohon, a rural place in further area of Bukit Dua Belas National Park. Agui, also known as Agustina Siahaan, a.k.a Xena (nickname given by other facilitator staffs), was one of education facilitators of KKI WARSI who taught the Orang Rimba children at that time. Budi was a student going to school only to follow his elder brother, Beralun.

For the Orang Rimba Children, accessing an education means they first have to study in informal situation before getting the formal one. They study everywhere and anywhere, learn from education facilitators provided by KKI WARSI who visit each group of Orang Rimba. Thus, after obtaining their initial learning from the facilitators, they could go on getting into formal schools. Generally, they have a class under the trees, at the edge of the rivers, in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening. They do not set a particular time and place, all activities run based on the agreement made between the children, teachers, and their parents. When they are required to help their parents for working, they will be off for a while, and following up the class next time. Hereafter, if one of their family members had passed away, the family is going to move out, so are their children. This tradition is called as melangun; belangun, a ritual of Orang Rimba groups to vanish all their gloomy feeling as their beloved member(s) are gone. When they do this, they will move to new place, build a new temporary dwelling like a small hut made of tarpaulins. It lasts depending on how sad their feeling is, meaning that, worse their feeling is, longer they would have melangun. Moreover, the teacher of this group will also follow the melangun like other member groups and teach the children in their new condition.

In addition, teacher follows his students not only during melangun but also when it comes for them to harvest, for instance, when they have honey harvesting. Before they collect some honey, the Orang Rimba will built a simple settlement around the trees. It took very long process to gather the honey, as they need to create some feet holds to climb the trees and harvest the honey.

Therefore, an education for the Orang Rimba Groups does not target the students exactly the way the formal school does. However, the children indeed are still diligent and smart to catch any idea given about their lesson, they follow every class and focus on learning material well. Although they have a very simple pattern in education, WARSI keeps providing an access, and bridging them to some formal schools.

Like any other kids, Budi was only an ordinary student following the school because of his elder brother, but he was so fascinated to the new materials being taught by the teachers. He kept studying hard during learning process although the teachers were only some cadres provided by WARSI. The cadres are actually the children of the Orang Rimba groups whose ability is better than the other students, so they help teach their friends. As number of staffs is limited while the Orang Rimba scattered throughout densely, teachers should come in turn to their target class and therefore, they need help from the cadres of the nearest group.

Similarly, Budi learnt this way too. After being taught by Agustina, he soon continued to learn from one of the cadres, Begenje, who lately becomes his brother in law. Budi continued his study with Warsi’s facilitators; they were Feri, Ninuk, and Galih. Yet, Budi learnt intensively from Prio Uji Sukmawan. He was very famous teacher and good at math, the children usually called him Mr. Ebun. However, they no longer can meet him now as he had gone forever because of malaria and bronchopneumonia.

Budi and his friends decided to continue their study well in respect of Mr. ebun. Other facilitator staffs, like Andi, Karlina, Shasa, and Maknun helped them reach their dream. During his learning process, Budi lived with some of the villagers, and had few foster fathers in the village around the forest. Budi went to a primary school, namely SD Pematang Kabau. Through its learning program for Orang Rimba, this school is good enough for Budi. He neither need to study in the class directly nor came every day. He came only few days in a week and for the rest days, studied in WARSI’s office or in Rimba instead, taught by education facilitator.

Budi and his other friends, Besiar, Perbal, Sekolah, Bejunjung, Besigar, and Meranggai had been able to finish their education in 2013, and followed an examination together with other students of SDN 191, Pematang Kabau II, Sarolangun subdistrict. Their average score was 7, thus given a certificate of primary school to complement the requirements for continuing their school to high school level, SMPN 12 Satu Atap Sarolangun.

Budi and his friends kept experiencing the same process of learning. They did not always go to school, but two weeks in a month instead. In high school (SMP), the children of Orang Rimba were also the cadres for other children. Cadres were made and role as teachers for their younger friends as they were deemed more capable of carrying this activity. During high school, Budi stayed at Warsi office, in Bukit Suban.

To improve their capacity, WARSI invites the children to visit and learn the learning process in some junior high schools, including high school (SMP) number 7 in Jambi Province. Moreover, WARSI encourages them to participate in some events to help improve their ability and braveness so they are confident to perform at public. Budi Graduated from high school in 2016, and continued his study in vocational school (SMK) in Bangko for one year only. Hereafter, the Indonesian armed forces (TNI), particularly mr. Husni Tamrin Babinsa Desa Bukit Suban, supported him to be an army, thus, he has been registered as the members of TNI Yonif 142 Kesatria Jaya.

Through his involvement as the members of TNI, WARSI does hope other children are motivated to access education. Warsi believes that nothing is impossible as long as they keep trying and going on reaching their dreams.

Related news: