The Children of Lembeh Island

Lembeh Island in Bitung City is an island sitting by the North East side of North Sulawesi. The citizens are mostly working as farmers and fishers. The first MOC (Micro Organic Community) we created was from North Lembeh. This area is quite far from South Lembeh (Rarandam Village) which has a docking port for transportation ships. North Lembeh’s locals would need to hop on road transportation modes like “oto” (car) and motorcycles to reach Bitung City. 

I had a funny experience when I went to accompany two women, Ibu Desi and Ibu Cicit, to open their own bank account in Bank Sulut, located in South side of Lembeh Island. At that time I wasn’t thinking about how big this island is, I thought “No problem, we could casually stroll around and go there,”. The problem started when we were waiting for our transportation. No cars, no “ojek”, then I decided to borrow one of their neighbour’s motorcycle. 

None of the women could ride motorcycles.

Now please try to picture me riding a motorcycle with two women on the pillion, turning right and left, climbing up and down like a mad racer. We passed 3 mountains in total, no kidding.

The women there are mostly working as small scaled fishers, every night they would spread the nets to catch small fishes and wait for big fishing ships to pass by and buy them for baits. When they appear, the women would turn their flashlights on and off to send the signal: “Hey, we have some baits here! Come and buy!”

We were arranging the training to make Anthea Bag every 13.00 PM in a keramba (a large fish cage) owned by PT BMB. 

Keramba owned by PT BMB, where the training was arranged.

Keramba owned by PT BMB, where the training was arranged.

Lembeh Island’s women learned how to cut the fishing nets.

Lembeh Island’s women learned how to cut the fishing nets.

Ibu Cicit and Ibu Winda were trying to make the crocheted handle of the bag.

Ibu Cicit and Ibu Winda were trying to make the crocheted handle of the bag.

The training was being held during the day, so the children were often came along with their mothers. Shiren and Natalie, the two little girls, were the regulars in PT BMB’s keramba.

Natalie and Shiren.

Natalie and Shiren.

In sunny days, some other children were coming to play and catch fishes with some critters.

Kids playing.

Kids playing.

A kid tried to catch a fish.

A kid tried to catch a fish.

The locals here have this unique trick to fish, they don’t use conventional fishing gears, instead they are using a mere nylon cord, with small hook and bait being tied to the end. If some fish takes the bait, they would simply roll the cord around their wrist and pull. I can’t imagine how painful it would be for me.

Although it was fairly hard to reach Lembeh Island (we had to use speedboat and crossing a channel), but it was a wonderful experience with its gorgeous view and the women, who have robust willpower to learn new things.

(Written by Priliscya Isdianti)