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As we adapt our lives to the conveniences of modernity and particularly toward a reliance on the availability of information at the press of a button, are we considering the fact that through this advancement also arises an opportunity for a younger – technologically savvy – generation to be heard, to influence change, and to pave the way for our future?

A contemplative proposition, yes, but a theory which, for the most part, was the inspiration behind my excitement in accepting an invitation to speak with year three students at a Private School in Melbourne’s East, as an introduction to an interesting unit entitled ‘Exploration leads to discovery and new understanding’.

In attune with this topic, I spoke to the students about my motives for travel and the rewards I’d gained through doing so. I spoke, with great honour, of the Mentawai Indigenous people and culture; I spoke of the differences in lifestyle and how, by utilizing their natural resources, they’d supplement the basic conveniences we depend upon. I spoke of their infinite knowledge in natural medicine and the methods they use to prevent and treat illness. I spoke of their cultural beliefs, and the importance of ceremony, traditional song and dance. I spoke of how significant the role of a child is to their existence and how they treat them accordingly; I also spoke of the opportunities that have been introduced, including a school program providing children the ability to learn a literacy education similar to our own.

What I didn’t speak of though, but which actually excited me most, was the way in which these two communities – at seemingly opposite ends in stage of evolution, were unknowingly connecting with each other. For me, the greatest significance to this privilege lay, not just in the opportunity to expand the imagination of these students by giving insight to an alternate way of life, but in the realistic prospect that by imparting this knowledge on to these students, to our youth of today, and to us, the people of an experienced parent country who hold the key to the Mentawai communities right to equal opportunities, that perhaps someday their desire for a situation just like this will become a reality.

Now if you cast your mind back to a post HERE, you’ll recall the gratitude given to GLOBALQUEST for a proposed commitment to support the development of the Community Support Program; well, it’s now upon us, this opportunity for us to offer our support and guidance to an Indigenous people facing (unwilful) cultural displacement and subsequent loss of identity. The situation, which is incredibly unique, sees GLOBALQUEST, through the generosity of Coffey International Staff, contributing 200% for each dollar raised before the close of June, so in effect a donation of $20 will be the equivalent of a donation of $60!

If you do support the idea of Indigenous communities receiving rights similar to those of our own and are in a situation to give, please, do offer your support. We have one month remaining on GLOBALQUEST’s pledge, so please act now. All donations during this period – however large or small – will go a long way toward the success of this program. If you’re unable to donate, your support in sharing this opportunity with family, friends, communities, and others, is of equal value.

Together, as a people privileged with freedom of choice and access to a wealth of information, we can make a difference. Masurak Bagatta, thank you.

Please donate to:

BSB – 033624
ACC – 217006

*Those donating who don’t wish to remain anonymous, please drop me an email to confirm and advise if you’d like to receive details of the program’s progress.


6 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. JUliana

    Before donating I am interested in knowing how your project is going to be implemented. What approach do you use for ‘delivering rights’ to people you consider be in ‘opposite end of evolution stage’?
    Sound like the interests of indigenous people who you are ‘delivering rights’ to may not being considered, neither their inclusion and participation in the process.
    I would appreciate if you could clarify which side and /or ‘stage of evolution’ are you referring to?
    Before donating I just need to know if it isn’t just another project inflated by western supremacy values from which I believe indigenous population in amazon are not necessarily in need of.
    So please if you could add a bit more of information on how the ‘delivery of rights’ will be achieved, who is involved in the design of your project, the objectives and how it is going to be implemented that might help me to decide if I can spare my money.

    Kind regards,

    Jun 02, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  2. Rob

    Thanks for your interest and enquiries Juliana.
    The Mentawai support program has been inspired through direct discussion with the Indigenous people – similar to that which I’ve presented in the attached video clip; it’s been inspired by their expressed concern for the future of their culture, which, as Si Bajak states in the video, is also a grave concern for the well-being and future of their people, so the program has been designed with nothing but the interests of the Indigenous people and which, thus far, has been their participation. The funds raised over the coming month will go toward further assessments – including a baseline survey of the community – which will determine the accuracy of the proposed goals and objectives; so again, the community will bring about any further adjustments to the program. My view is that the goals and objectives can only be successful and sustainable if the activities are by their own invention – their inclusion/participation, and implemented by the people, so neither I, nor anyone from a foreign region will be making decision on what their wants and needs are.

    No, I don’t consider the people to be at opposite ends of evolution Juliana, and is why I used the term ‘seemingly’ – referring to perhaps an aesthetic glance from a passing outsider; and I’m quite insulted that you’ve insinuated my motives to be of ‘western supremacy value’. My inspiration is born through what I’ve learnt from the people, everything they shared with me, the positive influence they’ve had on my life, and which has now given me the drive and passion to pursue this formidable path; so implying that my thinking is of superior nature is in fact quite the contrary.
    I do agree, as a way of Indigenous life, no, the people of Mentawai do not need help; in fact their structure of living is quite incredible and perhaps has more to offer us in terms of values than we do them, but the program is not about teaching them how to live. The program is simply to support their right to progress the knowledge of traditional Mentawai culture. Thanks for writing Juliana; I hope my response has been helpful. Kind regards, Rob.

    Jun 03, 2011 @ 9:50 am

  3. Mary-Jo Hanly

    Great work! As we ‘advance’ through the years we cannot lose sight of the beauty of simplicity and a life of mutual appreciation which is so typical to indigenous cultures. If we continue to suppress this way of life it will be irradicated. Then nature will die. Then as we are dying we will realize our futile existence as a man striving to achieve without the simple gifts of a natural world and its native inhabitants. I only wish i was a millionaire. Proud to be a part of this wonderful donation incentive :)

    Jun 03, 2011 @ 10:05 am

  4. Rob

    A great outlook Mary-Jo, thanks so much for your positive words and kind support toward an endeavor that is capable of protecting, not just the future of Mentawai children, but that of our own.

    Jun 08, 2011 @ 7:29 am

  5. Belinda Le Grice

    I think what Rob has experienced and therefore trying to show the world is something so huge that we all sitting here in our highly materialist western world should take a very small leaf out of his book and take a good hard look…I know what it is like to experience the “magic” that these island people have in their very own way they are. If everyone could share some of that this world would be a better place. It would be so sad to lose the few of these indigenous communities and there traditional ways. You really realise there is so little you need in this world when surrounded by these beautiful Mentawaian people. Rob I wish you well in your endeavour. Belinda

    Jun 08, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

  6. Rob

    That just about sums it up Belinda, there’s so much to admire about their way of life and I hope the film will offer us the opportunity to uncover a sense of that. Thankyou kindly for taking the time to write. It’s support like this that gives me strength :)

    Jun 11, 2011 @ 8:35 am


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