Monday, November 03, 2008

Community Center






Where is Gowok Village located?


Gowok is a small village in the Samigaluh Sub-District, and Kulonpraga District of Yogyakarta Special Province. It is located in an isolated area of the “Menoreh” Mountainous Range. As a matter of fact it is located only around 2.1 kilometers north of a tourism alternative road of the City of Yogyakarta to Purworeja. Before the 1980s, people had to walk on barefoot around 4 hours to reach the closest city, such as Purwareja. It is on the west border of Yogyakarta Special Province, 33.3 kilometers west the City of Yogyakarta, and 777 meters above sea level.  It is one of the highest points in Kulonpraga District. Because of its location and Gowok’s past history, some people think that Gowok is the end of the world. Gowok is also far from the center of the Samigaluh Sub-District or Kulonpraga District. Therefore it gets less attention from the local government. The population of Gowok is around 270. It consists of 70 families. There is no public facility, such as a market, school, health center or water system. Even two thirds of the population has not enjoyed a public power supply yet.   


What does Gowok look like?


Even though Gowok is situated in an isolated area, it has rich resources and strengths. Gowok used to be the center of Javanese cultures. Unfortunately some outside world views (it may also be caused by some religious teachings) have uprooted Gowok local wisdoms and values. It is reflected by several local folklores, such as the “Areng-areng” Mount Legend where Gowok’s heavenly ancestors stored 2 sets of invisible Javanese music instruments. The land of Gowok is fertile and prosperous. It is reflected by the Legend of Goddess Sri. She is the Goddess of Prosperity. In addition to that, Gowok might be a safe place for those who have escaped from some oppressive political powers. Gowok people believe that their ancestors were from the Prince Dipanegara Army forces during the Javanese Kingdom’s Civil War.  According to the history, the Indonesian Revolutionary War Army forces used to live in Gowok and its vicinities. For example, the Army General TB Simatupang lived in the “Kucir” Mount area. It is 6 kilometers northeast of Gowok. He is a former World Council of Churches chairperson. It is reflected by the Legend of Damping Cavern Tiger, Damping Rice Plantation Flying Horse, Cakrawangsa Water Spring, Suradipa Water Spring, and some tombs of Gowok Village pioneers. The most important idea is that Gowok people have practiced a universalistic, tolerant, and hospitable way of life. Even though they belong to several different religious communities, they live in harmony. For example, people celebrate Idul Fitri regardless of their religions.  That is one of the strengths of the Gowok community in that they can share with others in the midst of emerging inter-group or interfaith tensions or conflicts in Indonesia or fractured worlds. The tensions or conflicts may be caused by some exclusive ideas or factions.


Rev. Aart van Beek, a PC-USA minister who visited Gowok 25 years ago, said “Gowok is one of the most beautiful villages of Java Island. Unfortunately few people know about it”.  It is close to several eco-tourism destinations, such as Kiskenda Cavern, Seplawan Cavern, and Suralaya Top. According to local legend, Suralaya Top is the place where gods and goddess dwell. It is also close to the Ettawa Goat Breeding Center in Gagaluwas Village, the Pagilaran Tea Plantation, Mahkota Dewa Herbal Plantation, and Commercial Pine Tree Plantation.  People also plant curcuma, ginger, some other herbal plants, salaks fruit, clove, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and coconut trees here. From a distance, on the top of Halilintar Mount, we can enjoy the beauty of South Java Beach (south), Merapi Mount (north east), Merbabu  Mount (north), Sumbing Mount (north west), Sindoro Mount (north west), Lawu Mount (east; the Sleeping Maiden Mount), the City of Yogyakarta (east), Magelang (north), Purwareja (west), Sentolo (south east), Wates (south), Sleman (north east), Bantul (south east), Sleman (north), and Muntilan (north). Also, from a distance we can enjoy the South Java Limestone Mountainous Range – called the Thousand Mount Region.  From the Ngrandukuning area, we can enjoy Kintamani of Java. Kintamani is one of the most beautiful places in Bali Island.


How will the Gowok people utilize their resources for a better future life?


Since 2005 the Global Education Partnership of Indonesia of the GEPOI Foundation has worked in Gowok. It has two programs there. The first one is an integrated community development. The second one is a monthly medical doctor practice and also alternative medication. Facilitated by the GEPOI Foundation, the Gowok community has founded “Gowok Manunggal,” a Self-Help Group or GM SHP. It is a means by which the Gowok community develops a better life through running small enterprises. They produce organic fertilizer, “Ettawa” goat breeding, “Mahkota Dewa” (Heavenly Crown) tea or instant tea, and some other herbal products.  Because there is no retreat or training facility in the entire Kulonprada District, GM SHP plans to build a retreat or a training center. It will be a community based retreat or training center. The center can be used as a rural community empowerment center where Gowok and its vicinities will participate in community learning. It will be built, managed, and operated by/for the welfare of the Gowok community and its vicinities. The late Mr & Mrs Samuel Wiryasentana, founders of the local Christian congregation, donated their 18,000 meters square for the center.


In Phase I (2008/2009), GM SHP will renovate the Wiryasentana’s former house to equip this with an entrance gate, a meeting room, a public kitchen, a reading/computer room, an office room, a public rest room, a water reservation system and a parking area. The budget is $ 21,000 US. In Phase II (2009/2010), GM SHP will build 3 cottages. These cottages will enable GM SHP to accommodate 24 guests. The budget will be $ 30,000 US. In Phase III (2011/2012), GM SHP will renovate 6 houses of Gowok families to be home stay. It will help each family to host 6 guests. The budget will be around $ 30,000 US. The owners of the houses will be responsible for 50% of the total budget. By the end of Phase III, the center will be able to accommodate 60 people to have an event such as a meeting, seminar, workshop, course, conference, and training. Then, at the last phase, in Phase IV, GM SHP will rehabilitate 17,000 meter square of traditional mixed farming to be a modern horticulture farming plantation. In addition to that, two (2) members of GM SHP will participate in the Phase IV program. They will contribute around 6,000 meter square mixed farming in the program. This means that the entire farming land rehabilitation program will cover around 23,000 meter square land.  The budget of Phase IV will be around $ 207,000 US.


GM SHP plans to utilize the new retreat center as its office, health clinic, information center, public gathering, rural community training, meeting, workshop, nature learning laboratory, local farming product market, and local art or cultural performance venue. In addition to that GEPOI Foundation plans to use the new retreat center for outbound activities, inclusive leadership, rural community development, entrepreneurship, communication, counseling training, group counseling service, meditation class, computer training, etc. By implementing those plans, there will be many more people coming and staying in Gowok Village. GM SHP guests will buy farming products directly from the local farmers. The isolation of Gowok Village will be broken. Gowok community and its vicinities will enjoy a better life. All retreat center services will be operated by the local people and for the benefit of them. In addition to that, the retreat center development plan will encourage the local government to improve the quality of Gowok Village and its vicinities’ infrastructures.




Besides a partnership with the GEPOI Foundation, GM SHP would like to invite those who share the vision and mission to develop some future partnership. Your future partnership will enable us to manage our resources better for the benefits of Gowok community and its vicinities.  Our contact person is Rev. Totok S. Wiryasaputra, GEPOI Foundation Executive Director, Banteng Utama 38, Jakal Km. 8.5, Yogyakarta 55581, Telpon/Fax: 0274-880320, Email: or Websites:  He is 1990 Th.M. Class of Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia (pastoral care studies) and now is doing his D.Min Program of Pastoral Counseling Emphasis in San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California. He is a grief counselor and a pioneer of pastoral care and counseling education and ministry in Indonesia.




















Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mud Volcano

If a company took responsibility for fixing a problem, would they stll be in business?