When I was ten my parents bought me a bike to get to school 3 miles away. This powerful gift widened my world and social contacts.
Twenty years later, I provided through PLAN Australia, a bicycle to a family I sponsored in Indonesia. Two years later, with a guide from PLAN’s office, my wife and I visited our Foster Child and family at Buwakan, 15 kilometres from Jogjakarta, on the slopes of Mt Merapi.
Leaving the taxi at the main ‘road’ we spent an hour stumbling up rough tracks to the village. We were shown the village concrete mandi (toilets and washrooms) and water tanks built with sponsors’ funds. Meeting the family of mother, older brother and a very shy 10 year old boy, we were ushered into a single rattan room, earthen floor on which the family placed straw mats to sleep, open windows and a divider to the kitchen area from which the bare breasted mother issued forth all manner of foods which were placed for our hospitality on a vinyl folding card table provided by the village headman. The table leaned with dishes of rice and goat meat, krupuk, fried bananas, mangosteens, and freshly opened coconuts replete with (just for us) plastic bendy straws!
The village teacher proudly showed the school books and the bike our money had provided. It was the only way the child could get to school 10 kilometres away.
I have often wondered if he had, years later, ridden it into Jogjakarta to join the anti-Suharto protests. It would have been a just use of our gift.