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What does the Jungle Library Project aim to?
- Primary education.
- Literacy problems.
- Ecological education.
Interviewer: Hi Pungky, nice to meet you! The Jungle Library project is about environmental education and conservation. Can you tell us more about it?
Pungky: The Jungle Library Project promotes environmental education to children living in highly deforested areas with human-wildlife conflict. With this project, we try our best to raise awareness through our story and photography in South Sumatra.
Interviewer: The project started on 2017. Why did you create The Jungle Library?
Pungky: The first time I met the indigenous children in a local village, I got my heart stolen. Their spirit and eagerness to learn about nature and the flora and fauna amazed me and inspired me to continue working with them independently. This is the reason why I decided to create The Jungle Library Project.
Interviewer: I have the feeling that you try to change people´s mind. Is it like that? Which is your task, your main goal?
Pungky: Through an environmental education syllabus, we teach primary school students about Sumatran native species, ecosystem function and environmental destruction. The aim is that the future generations take sustainable actions that don’t endanger their life. In other words, we try to change the mind and heart of village children so as to they don’t do illegal land clearing and illicit wildlife trade, activities to which they are exposed every day.
Interviewer: During this period of time, which are the funniest situations you have faced?
Pungky: It’s not funny, but heart taking. During the first month, I taught in a class of kids who made me tearing up. They said “Thank you so much, kakak”. Kakak in Indonesin means brother. After that, they also thanked me for helping them to learn writing and reading. I can’t hold tears back when I think about it. They thought I was crying because of a mistake of them… When I leave a school, students always want to hold my hands and I may spend more than 30 minutes until teachers advise them to stop.
Interviewer: And the worst one?
Pungky: It was after teaching a group of kids. I suffered an accident with my motorbike and I really taught I couldn’t teach again because I couldn’t walk. I was unable to walk for two months, my face was swollen and my body was full of wounds. The children who saw me were crying. I never told this to my family until I was completely recovered.
Interviewer: Since you started, have you seen some positive result?
Pungky: The kids’ mindset is changing… They understand what kind of Sumatran native animals that live around them are endangered and protected under the law. They understand 5 basic ideas about protected animals. We can’t shoot them. We can’t kill them. We can’t sell them. We can’t eat them. We can’t keep them as a pet. They know and understand the ecosystem function and the relationship between humans and nature.
Interviewer: I don’t think the results are small. They are so big, indeed. Are you alone in this project or do you have help?
Pungky: Apart from me, my good friend Joshua Parffit, who is also a freelance environmental journalist in Holland, helps me in the project. We collaborate to create this project together. I work on the project site and he manages everything online. Some of my friends around the world sometimes help me out too, like you. This project isn’t created only by both of us; it is created with the support of so many people who are concerned and love nature.
Interviewer: I wish you all the luck in the world. Tell me about The Jungle Library’s future plans…
Pungky: We will establish an ecotourism project at the end of this year. I will work together with the government to start a scientific and eco-tourism plan in one of the natural reserves in South Sumatra. Doing so, villagers will have greater incomes with tourism than doing illegal activities and it will encourage them to stop doing that. We will also establish a Research Station and eco-lodge inside the protected area. This year we will also start a restoration project.
Interviewer: Thank you very much, Pungky! I think there should be more people like you that feel a huge love for their land and eager to protect it.