Make sure you write SOLOMON ISLANDS, a beautiful country far away in the middle of the shade of the Pacific Ocean, which inspired Hollywood movies in 50-60s. Elvis and James Bond movies while very “worship” the beauty of the small islands in the Pacific Ocean, with a picture of a girl dressed leaves, distinctive guitar beaches, white sand beaches sloping, and underwater scenes are amazing. Well, this picture is almost right in the Solomon Islands, except the girls who are no longer dressed leaves.
In March 2007, the big boss ordered me to immediately fly to Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands and forwarded to Gizo, a popular dive sites there.on holiday ? of course not ! I was assigned to work together as a Global Medic Canada towards joint operation with the United Nations, who already be reached there. Five days before,the tsunami struck the western Solomon Islands that killed a small class “not until” a hundred people. Of course I’m not going to discuss my work in this paper.
With all the preparation of a sudden, the dollar is (thank God) enough, I flew from Yogyakarta-Jakarta-Singapore-Brisbane, and to Honiara next day. Hold on! I get by the valued from an officer at Brisbane Int’l Airport, to be delivered to you all.”I love Indonesia, perhaps more than some people of Indonesia itself. Please tell to the mass media in Indonesia, to STOP preaching “only” the bad news about Indonesia,and setting aside the good news which is very reasonable to inform”. WOW! I wondered how he could get the gossip channel and provocateurs like Lativi, SCTV and Global TV? Apparently he was often to Indonesia, and watch Buser, Liputan Siang, Liputan 6, and others. Horeeee….! It turned out that outsiders are also fed up with news like that..enough..enough..back to Honiara.
Honiara is a city that umm..very ordinary looks. Take Timika (without kuala kencana) as an example, and multiply by two, namely Honiara. The city is “built” the full support of the United States and Australia after World War II, of course, after the island of Guadalcanal, was destroyed by the Japanese and Allied soldiers.The main roads in Honiara is the size of Ciledug narrow streets (without jamming), and through a narrow bridge made of wood.The one thing that worried me, was when I saw many people walk past and do not wear sandals. do not think that they are people who are still (forgive..) primitive. No! They dress like us and know that the Japanese capital is Tokyo (while many of my friends call Palembang as the capital of West Nusa Tenggara Province, what a shame ! :(). And most surprising is, that “most” of them speak English better than the average Indonesian, articulate far better than the Singaporeans and Indians English.
I was nervous because if they live as limited vision, goals objectives can not be hung in the sky, as if the future if they can be seen and confirmed.that’s my opinion, before I met Jessie, a young man 20 years, local residents. He said that indeed, the Solomon Islands is a remote country, far away from everywhere, all the expensive prices, employment slightly.But according to him, most people accept it with relief, and optimistic that this nation will achieve progress in the near future. “My country is the best tourist destination in South Pacific” he proudly. ok,well..if only there is no new zealand (I wonder..)
On the other day I met Michael, and he was surprised when he knows I’m from Indonesia. in his eyes, Indonesia is a country that produces Rinso (Detergent), Blueband (Margarine), Buavita (Juice), Tango (Biscuit), Garuda Peanut, and so on. ‘What is BUAH-BUAHAN ? “He said ..(hahaha…it’s really funny, we export goods but ‘forgot’ to change the language packs) 😀 Michael was not alone, in the eyes of his friends, Indonesia is a country that told by their teachers in primary school time, about beauty, plurality, and the friendliness of the people. “Before God take me, I hope to visit Indonesia. hopefully God will hear” he continued, (Ameeennn..)
I flew from Honiara to Munda, a small rural area of remote, once again so many people who know much English. I flew with a small plane in which the passenger is limited only for 6 people. Believe me, I feel more enjoy and feel safe with a small aircraft compared with Boeing 737. From the height of “enjoy”, I can see the small islands scattered in the bottom, with white sandy beaches and blue sea and a shallow green. It’s beautiful, such a loose pearls and pearl out of each charm. from the small islands, I could see the children and parents “walks” with a small boat in calm water, clear, and shallow. I just realized that small islands were inhabited, I could see the tin roof of some houses on each island.
“I am sure yours are beautiful too, mate” I was surprised. An Australian beside me, suddenly shouted in my ear. The engine is very noisy, so the screaming is the “only” way to communicate with one another. His name is Bruce, he is from Cairns, Australia. He several times to Jakarta and Bali, but do not have time to see the expanse of sea that dotted by 17.000 islands. I just nodded and smiled. (Maybe) of about 10-12 million Indonesian people traveling abroad to “enjoy” the beauty of Singapore, Phuket, Paris, Rome, or Australia, imagine how much money they “send” to that countries, and imagine if they also travel to Wamena, Sabang, Mentawai, Kepulauan Seribu, or …..
Gizo is my last journey in Solomon islands. Gizo is the biggest city in western Solomon Islands. For the divers, Gizo famous because of natural beauty which under the sea was still awake. Gizo is more like a small village in Kupang (west Timor,Indonesia), the only paved road is less than 3 kilo meters, which is inhabited by about 2000 people who live around the beach. Gizo is a fairly large island and surrounded by small islands which are beautiful, and separated by a shallow sea full of fish and blue to purple dolphins. I could feel “chased” by the dolphins when visiting one remote island with a boat containing only 4 people. Amazingly, the driver, an Aussie took with dolphins that live playing 3 games. Gizo also has a small island that serves as a special airport …..Yes…airport. in isolation of Gizo, I’m still have a good connection Internet speed. Solomon Telekom, is a subsidiary of Australia’s AT&T Wireless, and only a few years began to hit a lot of penetration to the Solomon Islands.
I got interviewed by Associated Press reporter, and asked a tantalizing question “What is your purpose in the Solomon Islands?”. The point is clear, the Solomon Islands is a powerful Christian state, and my organization (and of course I) is a Muslim.I thought this was my chance to explain to the west of what is islam. It’s time to show them the beauty of Islam. Finally, the story was published, and told by the thousands of sites and newspapers around the world, with a great title “MUSLIM AID SHOWS ISLAM’S TRUE FACE” proud hehehe.. 😀 unfortunately they misspelled my name be akyari hanonto,some are writing akyari hanoto.
I am not stay long in Gizo, only 3 days, before finally returning with a small aircraft is limited to 6 people to the capital Honiara. That’s the last time I saw (again) small and beautiful islands from the air, and probably, I do not (will) have the opportunity to visit the Solomon Islands. My friend from Indonesia fell asleep, I was so sleepy, but as far as possible I try to stay awake. Sunny weather, and from that height, (which is not too high), I could see a group of cargo ships (small) with Indonesian flagged.
In Honiara, I have met with the consul general of Indonesia to the Solomon Islands, I forget his name, as well as some defense attache, and also some Indonesians which has endured decades of living in Honiara. It turned out that the inauguration of the consulate general, which of course is very formal. I ventured to approach and boast a little that “I’m an Indonesian, just like you”. Apparently they welcomed me with good, friendly, and full of friendship, although that time I was wearing knee-length pants, and T-shirts. unfortunately I forgot to record their email…
So far, the Solomon Islands is highly dependent on Australia and New Zealand in many aspects, economic, political, security (army and police in the Solomon Islands conducted by the RAMSI, the combined army and police from Australia and New Zealand), and diplomacy. It makes (some) of the people of Solomon Islands is very angry because the Aussie and NZ (especially Aussie) is very pressing and interfere the “Internal” of Solomon Islands. So, once again I am proud when headliness locally morning newspaper (just before I left for Brisbane), entitled “WHY NOT INDONESIA?”. Good one .
The plane which I was riding, the Solomon Airlines appropriate take-off at 2 PM. I still vaguely saw the Indonesian fleet down there ….
Written by : Akhyari Hananto