For several years 33-year-old Carlos Ferrandiz worked as a lawyer in Spain,but in 2010 he decided to quit his job and live in Indonesia. During this time, he became totally devoted to the Harapan Project, a foundation he created to help the community of Hu´u, Sumbawa cover basic survival needs in nutrition and to access fresh drinking water, improve health, education and basic infrastructure.
Ferrandiz took time out from accompanying a young boy from the island of Sumbawa to Bali for ear surgery, and spoke to Indonesia Expat about his previous life as a hard working lawyer, who left his job, family and friends to move to a remote jungle village. Upon arrival in Indonesia, Carlos soon learned that the most important thing in life was love.
“I think education is the base of any social change. It is the clue to understand and resolve all the problems of this world, to give us the knowledge to analyze every situation and to find the correct solution.”
Carlos owes much to his parents who taught him the importance of helping others, taking him from the age of six to help out with humanitarian work, particularly in soup kitchens and homes of the physically and mentally disabled. As a result, Carlos decided to change the course of his life and finally stop thinking about money and his own interests. According to Carlos, there is nothing in the world that can make him happier than to make a child smile.
“In 2006, I made my first trip to Indonesia. After some weeks in Bali I decided to visit Sumbawa, trying to find a more remote and quiet place. When a child approached me, wanting to communicate, I asked him if he spoke English, and he said that he only spoke a few words. This surprised me greatly because it was the only language within the limited tourism industry that offers an economic resource. So I told the boy from Sumbawa I was going to teach him English.”
The next day Carlos went to the meeting place with a blackboard he had borrowed from one of the few hotels that existed in the area and some books to teach English. To his surprise, Carlos found the whole village population had turned up, with 150 children, parents and even grandparents. Dazzled by their desire to learn and having witnessed their poor living conditions, Carlos decided his life should change. And at that moment, the Harapan Project was born.
Back in Spain, Carlos decided to form his NGO and then move to the island of Sumbawa and devote his life to help the population of Hu´u. When Carlos first arrived in Sumbawa seven years ago, one situation that alarmed him was the large number of children and adult population that could not read and write.
“Many of the children didn’t attend school regularly because they were doing inappropriate productive tasks for their age, such as farming and collecting seaweed. I was also shocked with the low level of education in the school and realized that access to education for the families was almost non-existent.”
Established in 2010, The Harapan Project cooperates with the communities in the development of their well-being and the promotion of peace and freedom, with a profound respect of their cultures, beliefs and customs. The volunteers teach every afternoon in the four different villages of Hu´u district, and children learn to read and write, English, Mathematics, Geography, and Science, along with other educational activities designed for both children and adults.
“Education is fundamental to improve living conditions. By providing appropriate education to the population, we can solve each of the problems. For example, by educating them about sanitation, we can eliminate many of the illnesses. Likewise, education about exploitation of the natural resources can generate working opportunities and new incomes for the families.”
Many students admire successful pro surfer and role model Hairil ‘Oney’ Anwar. The 20-year-old began riding waves on a snapped surfboard in his village of Lakey Peak. Anwar made sure he met travelling surfers by speaking a good level of English. When Oney first joined the Rip Curl team in 2003, he was already looking to become a world-class surfer at the age of 10. Oney has been living in Queensland, Australia since 2007 as part of Rip Curl’s International Grommet Development Program, and graduated from Palm Beach Currumbin High.
“Oney Anwar is the idol for all the children of Hu´u. Oney made his dream a reality and showed all the children that a better future is possible if you work hard. He is the ‘dream-come-true’ for every one of the children in this area.”
The local population of Hu´u does not have many working opportunities. People work the land (rice or corn) and gather seaweed for cosmetics companies who sell to intermediates at a ridiculous price. The average income per month for one family is around 200 or 300 thousand Rupiah. The low economic situation prevents people from receiving medical treatment and medication.
“Last December a huge cyclone hit Sumbawa. There were floods everywhere and people were isolated. Nangadoro village suffered severe damage to their school building, leaving the structure unsafe. We worked with the Hu’u Department of Education and Rotary Seminyak, Bali, to cover all the rebuilding costs.”
Harapan Project has accomplished several goals with private donation. They have saved many lives and taught enthusiastic children to read and write. The Project receives volunteers from all over the world, but unfortunately not for long lengths of time. More doctors, nurses and dentists are required for 2014.
You can help share the love by donating via the website. Harapan Project Sumbawa is now creating a fundraising campaign through a program of partners. Indonesia Expat readers can help Carlos by not only becoming partners of the project but also by helping him to find new partners. Also welcome are learning and educational material, clothes, sports material, medicines and toys.