Award-winning Indonesian anthropologist, educator, author and acclaimed environmental activist, Butet Manurung has dedicated her life to educating Indonesia’s Indigenous people.
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1972. She developed a love of the outdoors while earning her degrees in anthropology and Indonesian literature from Padjajaran University, Bandung, Indonesia. In 1999, having finished her studies, Butet joined WARSI, a local non-profit conservation organization as a volunteer. Her role within the organization was to teach the Orang Rimba, People of the Forest, the Indigenous tribal communities whose homes are located deep within the Bukit Dua Belas rainforest, in Jambi, Sumatra.
In order to teach the Orang Rimba how to read, count, and recognize their rights as Indonesian citizens, Butet worked hard to earn the trust of the Orang Rimba. By learning to speak the local dialects and immersing herself within the tribal lifestyle, she eventually became one of few trusted outsiders.
Completing her time with Warsi in 2003, Butet co-founded SOKOLA, a non-profit organization, with a view to providing education to Indigenous and marginalized communities throughout the Indonesian archipelago.
Working in harmony with cultural values, rather than changing them, Sokola teaches basic education including reading, writing and life skills that are tailored to the needs of individual communities.
As an educator and activist, she has received international recognition – UNESCO’s “Man and Biosphere Award” in 2001, TIME Magazine’s “Hero of Asia” in 2004, Ashoka Fellowship in 2006, “Asia Young Leader” in 2007 and World Economic Forum “Young Global Leader” in 2009. The Jungle School is her first book, originally published in Indonesian as Sokola Rimba in 2007.