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Terima kasih

Indonesia, August 21, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Photo: Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps

Those days that I leave a country, after my documentary work is done, are the longest for me. This travel day began at 3:00 a.m. and won’t end until at least 8:00 p.m. in Salt Lake City — 30 hours. Right now, I am in Taiwan. But while travel attacks my soul and makes me bone-tired, there’s a bigger reason I’m feeling bleary-eyed and heavy-hearted today.

I fell in love with Indonesia. And how could I not?

Everyplace I go, I bring back what I felt most from that place: reflection from Mongolia, sorrow from Congo, perspective from Kosovo and wonder from China. But from Indonesia, I carry back love, and lots of it.

There’s love and admiration for the dozens of hard-working Mercy Corps clients I visited and interviewed across four of the country’s 17,500 islands. Love for the 14 new non-profit journalists, colleagues in a struggle to make people care, who we trained at the beginning of our time here — which seems a lifetime ago. Love for the friendliness and persistence of those who live in Jakarta and Ambon’s slum neighborhoods, places raised with nothing more than building scraps and hope.

The last two words I heard at the end of this visit to Indonesia, from an immigrations officer, were terima kasih — “thank you” in Bahasa Indonesia. And that is much more poignant than anything I’ve written here.

Terima kasih. I will be back.