Challenges in Action Planning – Sumatra Style

by Guest Blogger

November 3, 2007

The following posting is from Hayden who is at our Forest Defenders Camp. Learn more about the camp and threats to Indonesian forests.

Constructing the dams in the peatland canals over the last few days has been extremely challenging.  Getting materials ontime, extremely hot weather, and today we had probably our most interesting challenge.

pmpong stuck in damWe showed up to the building site of dam number three only to find a pompong (boat) stuck behind our half constructed dam.  In it was a mother and father with five children, and all of their possessions.  It turns out that they had just been evicted by Duta Palma from their house they were building.  The company told them they were squatting illegally and had to leave.  So they left the way they got there, using one of the canals at high tide.  Except this time their way was blocked.

We worked all morning as the tide rose with the family hanging out in their boat right behind the dam.  They even had a rooster they had tied to a tree nearby.

Finally at high tide we had to deal with moving a huge boat with a diesel engine over our dam.  None of us were looking forward to it, and many of us thought it might be impossible with the tools and people power we had available to us.

We used wooden poles as a ramp up over the dam, and used two lengths of rope wrapped under the boat to help lift and push it, inch by inch, over the dam.  Fortunately it worked.

Afterward I asked Petteri, the Finnish action coordinator who is helping coordinate the dam building, if he was taught how to deal with that situation in action planning school.  He replied with his usual finnish chuckle.

We now have two dams completed, and another one about halfway done.  But today is my last day.  I’m off tomorrow, as I’ve been here nearly a month.  In fact, I have the current record for the person who has been here at camp the longest.  People say they can notice, as apparently I appear very comfortable here.  In fact, I sleep very well every night now.  And I’ve acclimated to the heat – I watch the new arrivals drip with sweat after being in the sun for only 2 minutes.  I also get some enjoyment in watching them squirm every evening as the bugs swarm around them.  Maybe it is time for me to leave…

 – Hayden

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