The start of January also saw the start of the Cipganti Pride Days. The two day event held on the 11th and 12th of January was a huge success! We were invited to host parts of the events at the office of the village chief, which was a great honour! The first day included a range of activities from a coffee tasting, children’s book corner to introduce the new library, a photo exhibition and photo booth. Read more from Michael and Josie about their experiences with the latter two below!
In the afternoon we had a games afternoon on the football field for the children. It was wonderful! When the children had won their prizes for the sack races we decided to have a final race between the LFP team members. It was met with fits of laughter from the kids as tracker Aconk sabotaged the race by throwing all the sacs away, volunteer Sharon running with her sac in her hand and Denise tackling her when she saw that she would finish last. Other games included limbo dancing, egg and spoon races, and some local games. The games that the trackers had prepared were met with even more laughing! In one, they have large woven bowls (normally used to cool rice) and filled it with flour. They then mixed in some coins and the children had to sit, with their hands tied behind their backs and fish out the coins with their mouths. They all loved it! It was a great afternoon for all the team and the children of Cipganti!
Volunteer Micheal and the photo exhibition
Photographing ‘village life’ when I’m a wildlife photographer? Well, as the day loomed, I thought to myself “How am I going to do this with no experience photographing this media?” “Just think of the subject (people) as really large animals – like a Kangaroos!” My fears were soon forgotten as the people of the small village of Cipaganti in West Java, Indonesia came out in force to put on a show that made my assignment not only easy, but incredibly enjoyable. I never thought that I could be moved photographing people, until I met a beautiful older woman in the back lanes of the village. When I showed her the photograph I had taken of her on my cameras screen, she was brought to tears and began to cry uncontrollably. It was then that I realised that some of these people had never had their photograph taken and all of their childhood and adult memories were exactly that – memories!
The photographic exhibition that came out from this experience was received extremely well, as the villagers old and young, giggled and laughed together as they wandered through the display; seeing images of each other for the first time. Such was the interest of the exhibition, the Kebala Desa (equivalent of town mayor) requested the exhibition be held indefinitely in his office hall. The entire process was one that I will never forget and the unique characters of Cipaganti will always remain with me.
Volunteer Josie’s Experience as Bunga at the Photo Booth
“Bunga” and Momma, “Tereh” feature in LFP’s book for children, “Tereh and Bunga: Forest Protectors” which details nocturnal life in the forest for the pair. However, in the last year both characters have been made into giant mascot costumes to feature in village events organised by LFP. Last year, Tereh took centre stage in our Slow Loris Pride days and – played brilliantly by tracker Adin – stole the hearts of the audience with her hilarious dance moves and naughty stage antics. Once again, Adin suited up as Tereh and took to entertaining the masses of children at our “Welcome Event” held in the Kepala Desa’s office (Head of the Village).
However, Tereh was not alone in her antics last weekend, our brand new Bunga suit debuted at “Cipaganti Mencari Bakat” – Cipaganti’s Got Talent. Bunga – played by myself – was available for “Aku cinta Kukang” (I love Slow Loris) photos at the Forest Protector Photo booth. Bunga also spent several hours working the crowd giving out hugs and posing for photos with visitors. Tereh and Bunga also played several hilarious games where the children had to try sneaking up on the lorises while they huddled in their sleeping balls at the centre of a big circle.
The several hours I spent dressed as Bunga were the hottest of my life! I must have got through half a gallon of drinking water just to stay upright. But the experience was brilliant! The children were so excited to play with their new loris friends. Many of them spent several minutes staring up in disbelief before deciding they just HAD to get involved in the festivities.
By the end of the afternoon, Bunga and Tereh had a whole posy following them everywhere. Everyone wanted to get a few snaps with the giant “kukang” and the photos are full of laughter. It was totally worth enduring the five thousand degree temperatures inside the mascot head just to see how much it made everyone at the event smile.
I’m back in the forest this week, but I think I should start wearing the suit out on second shift. It would definitely keep me warm when the 3am chill creeps in!
Read about Cipganti’s Got Talent in our next blog!