THE JUNGLE SCHOOL
written by Butet Manurung
A People in Crisis . . .
A Young Woman’s Adventure . . .
A School for Life . . .
The Orang Rimba, people of the forest, are nomadic tribe people whom live in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. They hunt, fish, and gather food from their natural surroundings in much the same way they have for hundreds of years. Over the past two decades, the outside world has begun to arrive at their doorstep; from illegal loggers chain‐sawing the jungle to transmigrants working in ever‐increasing numbers of palm oil plantations. While they have the skills needed to preserve their jungle, as the Orang Terang, people of the outside light, continue to encroach upon the rainforest which the Orang Rimba call home, the Orang Rimba find themselves ill prepared to deal with land contracts or sale of rainforest products.
By sharing the journal she kept during her first year in the jungle, award-winning anthropologist Butet Manurung enables readers to journey with her into the depths of the Sumatran rainforest. She tells of her adventures with stinging bees and prowling bears, with biting ants and motorbikes. Most touchingly, Butet describes how her relationship with the Orang Rimba developed as she transforms from an outsider to a trusted teacher within the community. Even though her students often wear loincloths and leave class to check their animal traps, Guru Butet’s trials and errors will appear familiar to anyone who has ever been a teacher,
An excellent example of how a small number of individuals can effect change, The Jungle School tells the story of her journey from anthropologist to educator to activist and provides a detailed explanation regarding how and why she founded SOKOLA – to bring literacy to indigenous people in areas too remote to access education – the work of her foundation and its adventurous volunteers.