Menyeberangi Danau; Merajut Persahabatan Melalui BukuBooks Across Border

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Saat perahu dengan banner bertuliskan “Perpustakaan Sophia: Ayo Baca Raih Mimpi-mimpimu” merapat di pelabuhan kecil Desa Peura, empat orang pemuda dan dua orang tua bersama sebuah boks beroda langsung mendekat mengangkut boks-boks buku. Dua orang ibu tergopoh-gopoh menghampiri sambil berkata “wah, sudah ditunggu-tunggu dari tadi”. Dua jam sebelum perahu Perpustakaan Sophia melintasi Danau Poso, melalui telepon dikabarkan ratusan anak sudah menunggu sejak jam 11. Semangat membaca buku langsung membuat team Project Sophia bergerak cepat dibantu orangtua di Desa Peura yang ingin anaknya mendapatkan buku bacaan. Dari kejauhan terdengar suara ratusan anak-anak menyanyikan lagu-lagu. Seperti sedang mengusir kejenuhan menunggu datangnya buku.

Hari Minggu, Baruga Desa Peura dipenuhi ratusan anak dan puluhan orang tua. Tempat duduk yang berfungsi sebagai dinding Baruga tidak mampu menampung jumlah anak-anak  sehingga beberapa yang lain duduk di tengah atau di atas tumpukan beras. Mata mereka langsung bersinar begitu melihat boks-boks buku, layar, dan anggota team Project Sophia mendekat. Puluhan anak-anak langsung berlari mendekati boks buku namun dicegah oleh orang dewasa lainnya “tunggu, tunggu sampai bukunya selesai disusun, ayo menyanyi lagi” Dua orang anak bergantian memimpin lagu-lagu sementara team Project Sophia berusaha bergerak cepat menata buku-buku. Seseorang berbisik “saya ragu apa buku-buku ini cukup untuk anak-anak, kak. Banyak sekali yang datang”

Ketika melihat buku-buku selesai disusun, belasan anak mengambil ancang-ancang akan lari menuju buku. Lagi-lagi dicegah orang tua “sabar,sabar, semua akan dapat buku”. Lian, pembina Project Sophia berusaha secepat mungkin menyelesaikan penjelasan mengenai aturan membaca buku dan fasilitas menggambar dan membuat origami. Anak-anak tidak cukup sabar, beberapa yang berada di samping susunan buku sudah menunjuk-nunjuk buku yang akan dibacanya, tidak mau buku itu diambil oleh yang lain. Saat dijelaskan bahwa semua anak harus mencuci tangan dan mengeringkannya sebelum membaca, anak-anak langsung berebutan mencuci di ember, langsung mengambil posisi siap berlari menuju buku. Suasana riuh bahkan sebelum aktivitas membaca dimulai. Semua mata tertuju pada buku-buku yang disusun.

Beberapa orang tua perempuan berusaha membantu team Project Sophia mengatur anak-anak, memberikan petunjuk agar anak-anak mengambil buku dengan mengantri. Semangat luar biasa dari ratusan anak-anak untuk mendapatkan akses buku tidak dapat dibendung. Ketika dua orang anak sedang mempraktekkan mengantri mengambil buku, ratusan anak-anak lainnya langsung menyerbu buku. Mereka berebutan mengambil buku-buku, bukan cuma satu tapi beberapa orang membawa buku empat sekaligus. Team Project Sophia hanya mampu tersenyum dan berusaha tetap memberikan penjelasan mengenai tata cara penggunaan buku.

Seketika ruangan berukuran 10 x  12 meter itu riuh dengan aktivitas membaca, menggambar dan origami. Berulangkali anak-anak berlari-lari hingga terjatuh hanya untuk mengganti buku yang sudah selesai dibaca dengan buku-buku. Belasan anak-anak tidak beranjak dari sekeliling tempat buku sejak awal hingga akhir. Tidak ada yang hanya berdiam diri, semua tenggelam dalam aktivitas membaca, dan menggambar.

Aktivitas membaca orang tua tidak kalah serunya. Seorang kakek membaca serius buku tentang konflik. Sebelum Project Sophia datang, warga di Desa Peura terlibat konflik antar warga karena perbedaan pendapat mereka tentang pembangunan jalur transmisi PLTA Sulewana milik Jusuf Kalla, dengan perusahaannya PT Bukaka. Warga terbagi dua, mereka yang setuju dan mereka yang tidak setuju pembangunan di wilayah pemukiman masyarakat. Konflik antar warga ini menyebabkan suami istri saling meninggalkan rumah, ayah dan anak tidak lagi saling mengakui, antar saudara tidak saling menyapa, hingga saling memukul, menganiaya bahkan saling melaporkan ke Polisi.

Kedatangan Project Sophia meleburkan rasa benci dan mengingatkan kembali ikatan kekeluargaan diantara mereka. Ruangan dimana dulu mereka pernah saling menuding dan memaki, sekarang menjadi ruang membaca bersama. Aktivitas membaca mempertemukan mereka. Bukan hanya orang tua tapi juga anak-anak yang dulu dipisahkan jika bermain hanya karena orang tua mereka berbeda pendapat. Seorang ibu mengatakan “ini pertama kali kami bisa kumpul bersama satu desa tanpa bersitegang atau saling memandang sinis. Soalnya yang dipandangi buku-buku” Anak-anak tidak lagi segan-segan duduk bersama membaca, menggambar dan belajar origami yang dipimpin oleh anak-anak Sanggar Mosintuwu. Mereka bisa saling membuat janji untuk bermain bersama lagi di lapangan atau di tepi Danau (yang sayangnya sekarang sudah terbangun tower SUTET).

Sementara itu pada menit-menit awal, kelompok origami hanya diminati oleh sedikit anak-anak. Namun dalam sepuluh menit berikutnya, Mimi dan Angel yang mewakili Sanggar Anak Mosintuwu, mulai kewalahan mengajarkan puluhan anak-anak yang meminta diajarkan membuat kotak, dan burung. Hanya sekali diajarkan, anak-anak mulai saling mengajarkan temannya yang lain yang juga tertarik membuat origami. Beberapa mendatangi orangtuanya menunjukkan hasil karyanya. Semua sibuk dengan aktivitasnya masing-masing, tidak ada yang hanya diam.

Lima ratus buku-buku yang melintasi Danau Poso hari itu tidak ada yang tidak disentuh untuk sekedar dilihat isinya atau dibaca. Lagu anak-anak yang diputar mengiringi aktivitas membaca, menggambar dan origami menambah semarak suasana dalam ruangan. Orang tua terus berdatangan, anak-anak semakin bersemangat membaca seakan takut hari cepat berlalu dan mereka tidak lagi dikelilingi buku-buku.

Lima jama setelah boks-boks buku dibuka, layar untuk menonton film bersama sudah dibuka, namun anak-anak masih meneruskan aktivitas membaca. Mereka membawa buku-bukunya di depan layar putih yang belum menyajikan tontonan apapun. Mereka membaca, dan membaca terus dan siap menonton film Denias. Hanya janji bahwa Project Sophia akan mengunjungi mereka lagi yang membuat anak-anak dan orang tua merasa lega dan mau melepaskan buku-buku yang mereka baca untuk ditemui lagi dalam kunjungan berikutnya.

Hari ini, Project Sophia melintasi batas daratan, menyusuri Danau Poso, menemui sahabat Project Sophia, membuat mereka mengingat kembali kekeluargaan dan indahnya bersatu untuk kehidupan bersama. Melalui Buku.

Can you imagine your life without books? Can you also imagine spending your reading hours now with the only school textbooks dated from the 1980s?

Those children in this story they finally could imagine living several hours enjoying books. For merely five hours in a month, they change their lives. They value dearly their five-hours with books we bring them. They even wait for several hours in advance waiting for our arrival with the books. Can they read more books with more chance than just five hours a month? We have a dream that they would finally organize their own home-library in their neighborhood. And we are hopeful for that…

***

Previously, there were only fishermen and local residents crossing Poso Lake. Then one day, a big-size boat bearing the writing “Perpustakaan Sophia: Ayo Baca, Raih Mimpi-Mimpimu” (Sophia Library: Let’s Read and Reach Your Dreams) crossed the lake, attracting the surrounding neighborhoods to swarm to find out what was contained within the boat. There they saw seven big boxes, the “Wonder Box” within which hundreds of books dancing along the minor waves in Poso Lake. Destination at that day: Peura village.

When the boat docked with a banner that read “Library Sophia: Let’s Read to Achieve our Dreams” at a small port in the village of Peura, four boys and two parents were ready with a wheelbarrow to bring in the books. Two men rushed in and exclaimed how anxious they were waiting for the books to arrive. Two hours before, the boat had began its journey across Lake Poso, and rumors of arrival started circulating around hundreds of children that had been waiting since 11am. The fast moving team of Project Sophia along with the parents of the village were quick to bring the spirit of reading about. From a distance came the sound of hundreds of children singing songs in unison as they waited for all of the books to arrive.

That day, Puera Village meeting hall was full of parents and children. There were so many people that there weren’t enough seats, so instead some people sat on sacks of rice. Their eyes lit up when they saw the dozens of boxes of books arrive, as well as a screen to watch a movie on. Many of the children ran right up to the boxes and adults had to bring them back to their seats, encouraging them to sing again while the books were laid out for them. Two children took turns leading songs while the Project Sophia team arranged the books quickly. Someone whispered “I wonder if these books are enough, there are many children coming.”

When the books were arranged and ready to be selected, dozens of kids ran straight to the books, but were again told to be patient by their parents. Lian Gogali, founder of Project Sophia, tried quickly to explain the rules of maintaining the books, pencils, and origami. But the kid’s enthusiasm could not be controlled as they pointed at the books they hoped to read. When explained that the children should wash their hands, they immediately ran to the bucket of water to do so. The atmosphere was hectic, even before the reading began! All eyes were on the books.

Some women tried to help by telling the children to get in a line in order to get a book. But the remarkable spirit of hundreds of children hoping to gain access to books could not be controlled. They all ran up to the tables where the books were displayed and scrambled to take not just one book, but several. Some even brought four at once. The Project Sophia Team was only able to smile and try to explain the how the children should treat the books.

Instantly the huge room was noisy with the activities of reading, drawing, and origami. Many times the kids ran around so much they fell on their way to get a new book. Dozens of children did not move once they had a book. Everyone was deeply immersed in the activities.

Adults were busy with reading too. An old man read a serious book about overcoming conflict. Before Project Sophia had arrived, residents in Peura Village had long been embroiled in a strong difference of opinion. The issue was over the construction of a hydro-electric transmission tower owned by Jusuf Kalla and his company PT. Bukaka. Residents had split into two groups, those who agreed with the tower, and those who were against it being built in the middle of a residential area. This had led to conflict between residents and had caused husbands and wives, father and sons, not to speak, and even report each other to the police.

The arrival of Project Sophia brought back their bond of kinship in Peura village. The room where before they had been accusing and cursing at each other was now a reading room. It had affected not only parents, but children had been separated as well during the fight. One mother said “this is the first time we have gathered together as a village without arguing with each other.” Children no longer hesitated to sit down together to read, draw, and make origami. They made play dates with each other on the shores of the lake.

Meanwhile, over in the origami group only a few children were interested in being taught by Mimi and Angel, who had come from Tentena with the MOSINTUWU Children’s Group. But once kids saw them teaching how to do it, kids started teaching each other until many were doing it. Some parents came to show off their work. Everyone was busy with their respective activities.  Five hundred books had crossed Lake Poso, and that day not one was left untouched. Children’s songs played in the background which created a festival atmosphere in the room. Parents continued to arrive, and kids were more and more excited to read, as if they were afraid the day was passing too quickly and they would no longer be surrounded by books.  Finally a large screen was put up to watch a movie, but the kids kept on reading. They carried their books and sat in front of the white screen and continued to read while they got ready to watch the movie Denias. Only the promise that Project Sophia would visit them again made the children and parents relieved enough to let go of the books. They look forward to their return in subsequent visits.

Today Project Sophia is crossing borders along Lake Poso to make friends, renew kinship, and bring people together for a beautiful life through books.

Notes: for more stories of Project Sophia journey please visit : www.sophialibrary.blogspot.com

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