On the 14th of March I was thrown before the lions and was asked by my great friend and fellow member of the Yayasan Kebon Sepatu, Akhmad Saufi, to come and give a lecture on the added value of volunteering – specifically in the field of eco-tourism – and our own experiences on Lombok. Although I am used to giving presentations – having finalised my initial studies of Theater studies in London – it is always a special thrill to come and talk before an audience of post-graduates. To conduct and participate in community service is part of the curriculum in Universities on Lombok and will count towards their final degree.

From a Socio-Psychological perspective it was a smooth-running presentation, although the technique was somewhat haphazard, but soon that was solved and the questions and participation of the students were both interesting and I could connect and relax into the flow of the presentation, which was of course also close to my heart. It was also helpful that I could refer them to the two articles I was asked to write of the UN’s global magazine, which both were published in 2015.

It was interesting especially as two students invited Bart and myself for a special dinner in their village, where they started and had been conducting a project that actually changed the lives of their community. It gave a beautiful perspective on how much can be achieved through structure and setting achievable goals by involving everyone in terms of responsibility and accountability. One of the lecturers joined us for this evening session and as usual, many photographs were taken by the students, supporting this project.

Next day, another lecturer who recently accepted the function of Secretary for the Yayasan Kebon Sepatu, took us to his community service project on the other side of the jungle area, and we were warmly received by the volunteering students, who gave a presentation of their project and their appreciation of the cooperation with the local community and Kepala Dessa. From bamboo bridge building and constructing beruga’s, I was thoroughly impressed by their handy(wo)men’s skills and their enthusiasm.

The area around this village is a stunning mix of natural forests, waterfalls and areas where local tourism has found its way. Great little restaurants are relatively quiet here, as the earthquakes of last August have taken their toll, whilst in the popular Senggigi area a singular foreign tourist can be seen… Lombok needs a boost, preferably one that will secure a kind of tourist that will leave the enchanting nature preserved and appreciated.