Babahan Village is a very beautiful village. You can see vast rice fields, clear rivers with fish that live naturally, birds flying freely in the sky and cacao trees growing along the road. There is a good place to reduce stress because the atmosphere there is very comfortable, very few vehicles pass, even on the main road is relatively quiet. Cool temperatures and cloudy skies made it comfortable for us while doing activities. Besides that, the local people here are very friendly. However, if you want to visit the Babahan village you must be ready to say goodbye to your social media, because internet access here is very slow even some locations here have no internet access at all.
Babahan Village is located in sub-district of Penebel, Tabanan Regency and close to the Jati Luwih agrotourism. It can be reached in 20 minutes from Tabanan City and about one hour from Denpasar City. Although the village is not well known, it has great potential in agriculture. Babahan village is a red rice producing area, the famous agricultural products here are red rice tea, black garlic and virgin coconut oil (VCO). Most of the agricultural land in the village uses natural fertilizers and pesticides which are processed in a modern way. In addition, there are also many local people who raise chickens, pigs, cattle and goats. But most of the livestock raised here are egg laying hens. This is why Babahan village is also known as the eggs-producing area.
In this village I got the opportunity to my student study service (Known as KKN in Indonesia) for 5 weeks. I am a 7th semester chemistry student from Udayana University. KKN is a concept of linking academic study with the practical experience of community service. Throughout the KKN program, the students are expected to share their knowledge and help local people to improve their lives and motivate them toward self-development. I personally feel very happy because by joining this KKN program and I can gain new friends or maybe even a new family, giving me a new perspective in how I see the world.
There are so many things that I have gained from doing the KKN Program in the Babahan Village. I experienced a lot of emotions such as happiness, sadness, excitement, weird, challenging, ridiculous etc. So in this article I will explain my experience of doing KKN program for 5 weeks in Babahan Village.
Saturday, July 21 2018 was the first day I stepped my foot in Babahan Village. The first thing that I did with my friend was to clean up our living place. In this village, we live in the village hall or we call it in Bali, Bale Banjar. This is the biggest building and has the capacity to accommodates 30 people together. There are no boarding houses or villas here, in this building there is only 1 bathroom. You can imagine every morning there will be a long queue for bathroom. Since there is also no kitchen here, we make a portable kitchen by combining several tables and placing one stove and other cooking stuff. This is the place where my friends and I sleep, eat and live together.
In this village we are challenged to be able to live independently and improve our teamwork skill. To make it easier for our daily work we select groups to be in charge of cleaning the bathroom, bedroom and cooking area every day. And please note that not all of the KKN participants have good cooking skills, so we have to accept if there are dishes that are not so good to taste, sometimes we even eat undercooked rice. Honestly this is the worst . In addition, we also cook foods that are universal in the sense that they can be eaten by all religious followers, because KKN participants come from different faiths. We prefer to cook eggs, chicken and tempeh rather than pork and beef. It is quite easy to get food ingredients here because the local people here are mostly farmers, sometimes we even get it for free.
Besides cooking together, we also set good sleeping positions, because the room is not bigger enough. We slept in a row like oreo biscuits. Every night we are practicing patience, because some of my friends are snoring very hard. To overcome this, sometimes we sleep using our headsets or we cover our ears with pillows. But I think sleeping together is also quite exciting because the room becomes warmer and makes me not feel afraid if I have watched a horror movie that night.
The bathroom is the most basic need for me. Every morning we have to be patient waiting in a queue for the bathroom. To avoid the queue I usually get up 1 hour earlier than my friends, I usually wake up at 5 am. Another annoying thing is when my soap runs out too quickly. This is because many of my friends used my soap without my permission.
Of all the daily activities, dinner is the moment I like the most. At dinner time we can gather together to discuss various things, starting with evaluating the activities that had been running and planning the next days program, to talking about random things. This is the moment we to get to know each other better. I am sure I will miss these moments when our KKN ends.
At our KKN there have been several programs that have had to be carried out to help the local community and develop the potential of the village. For Babahan village, we specialize in agriculture, considering that Babahan village has potential in agriculture. Some of the programs that we have run include:
The first program that was carried out was counseling about the nutritional value of red rice. As a red rice producing area, The Babahan community does not understand about the nutritional value of red rice, so there’s a misconception in the community. For example, people like to peel away the red rice husk, whereas in the epidermis of red rice there are high fiber and vitamin B and E that are needed for the body. Local people often mix red rice with white rice because the taste of red rice is not nice. With this program, it is expected that the community will not peel the red rice epidermis again and that they will increase their consumption of red rice, which is the product of the community’s agriculture.
The second program is a demonstration of the red rice tea making process for mothers in the village. This program aims to encourage the local community, especially the mothers to be entrepreneurs through red rice tea products. As mentioned before red rice contains high nutrition, that’s why we try to process red rice into tea. Of course, red rice tea will have a higher selling value, so it is expected to help improve the economy of the local community in the village.
In order for the product to sell in the market, a good marketing strategy is needed. To support the marketing of red rice tea, we hold an introduction of the marketing strategy of red rice tea. People are sharing knowledge about product packaging, market mechanisms and consumer psychology. After joining this program, it is expected that the local community wil be able to run a sustain business based around red rice tea.
Environmentally friendly pesticides are also needed by farmers to minimize the negative impacts on the environment. In this fourth program, we provide the technology for processing a natural pesticides called biopesticides. Biopesticide is a pesticide that uses the work of good bacteria to protect plants from pests. Biopesticides are given to farmers so that farmers can produce their own pesticides. By this technology, we expected that farmers can reduce production costs and that the welfare of farmers will increases. Besides that, agricultural products like this are relatively more safe for consumption.
Successful rice growth depends on the quality of the seed. Even though the planting is good and the treatment method is correct, if the seeds have poor quality it is certain that rice will not grow well. Therefore, it is important for farmers to know how to produce good seeds, thereby reducing the risk of farmers failing to harvest.
We also have an additional program that is making an owl house. Owls are friends of farmers because owls prey on mice that are considered as rice pests. The owl house is placed on a pole that is quite high in the middle of the rice field. The owl house also becomes an attraction for the people in Babahan village.
During breaks time, we usually hang out together for a coffee or just relax. Don’t expect there is a cafe or food stand here, you won’t even find an indomaret (minimarket), for that we have to take a 15-minute drive. The only place where most people often hangout is the warung Bu Wahyu, this could be translated as Mrs Wahyu local eating place. Warung Bu Wahyu is right in front of the Bale Banjar. The place is not large and very simple. Warung Bu Wahyu sell a variety of our needs starting from food, drinks, toiletries, cooking spices and snacks. The menu is simple , they sell instant noodles with additional fried eggs. Maybe in Denpasar instant noodles is a very ordinary food but here instant noodles are a luxury food for us.
In the Babahan village the internet connection is slow, even there are some points where the internet connection is completely lost, one example is the Balai Banjar where we live. Fortunately, we accidentally found a multi-storey building that functioned as a security post with a pretty good internet connection. We called this place a “Posting” (Posko Tingkat). So every day we come here just to get an internet connection, usually for social media updates. The atmosphere of this place feels very quiet even though there are many people, because each person is focuses on their gadgets. An internet connection also feels like another luxury here.
The lack of internet connection here makes social relations among KKN participants more intense. Every-day meet-ups, working, playing and eating together make relationships more than just friends, especially between girls and boys. It is a common things to fall in love in these places. In Indonesia we call it “Cinta Lokasi”. Some of my friends doing KKN have also experienced the same thing. They establish a special relationships among KKN participants. There were even those who had a relationship in the second week. That’s the greatness of love, love can grow and bloom anywhere. But unfortunately it didn’t happen to me. Okay, maybe I just have to be more patient to waiting for my life partner.
Love in KKN is not only in a narrow sense, I mean not only between men and women but love in a broad sense. What I mean here is the love we give to village kids and vice versa. Every day the kids come to our living place to learn and we also play some games. Like kids in general, their behavior is very funny and adorable. But sometimes they also act naughty. So we as brothers and sisters also have to be patient in teaching them.
At the beginning of the KKN, the children were an important source of information for us. They love to talk about everything. Starting from the condition of the village, the tourism object and spooky place in the Babahan village . Horror stories are the part I like the most. They once told me that a child committed suicide on a bridge near our living place. They also told us about the ghost of kuntilanak in the public health center. They also told us about an empty house believed to be a haunted house. I don’t fully believe them because children have high imagination.
Every August 17 we celebrate the Republic of Indonesia’s independence day. Like other regions in Indonesia, we in Babahan village also celebrated independence day by holding several special events. The village head gave us the opportunity to be event organizers. We prepared this event as well as possible and I was appointed as the MC at this event. This was a challenge for me to present the event with enthusiasm and cheerfulness. We also use this program as an opportunity to get closer with the local community.
At the KKN there is a program called family assistance. Each participant is required to have one family who will be accompanied during the KKN in Babahan Village. Families who are chosen as family assistants are usually disadvantaged families. Students are expected to help solve problems in the family so that the families welfare can be increase.
I have an assisted family in Utu Hamlet, not too far from living place. So during my KKN I visit my assisted family. They are an old couple. I call then Mbah and Pekak. Mbah and Pekak live alone in a simple house in the middle of a rice field. They work as farmers. Mbah and Pekak are a family who live in a very simple way.
Actually, Mbah and Pekak have 2 children, but their two children are married and have their own homes in the Tabanan and Denpasar cities now. Their children rarely go home to visit them because of their busy work. Even so, Mbah and Pekak are not really lonely because they still have neighbors who often visit them at home.
One morning I visit Mbah and Pekak at their house, they are very kind to me. Mbah made me coffee and boiled potatoes in the morning. There is no chocochips or bread. All the food consumed by Pekak and Mbah comes from the garden. Maybe this is the secret of why Mbah and Pekak are still fit in old age.
I have the opportunity to observe the daily activities of Mbah and Pekak. In the morning we went to the fields to look for grass to feed the cows. To look for grass we have to go through a path that is not easy. We passed the uphill and slippery dirt roads. The results of the grass can be quite a lot. When I tried to lift it I measured the grass at about 25-30 KG. I admit they are very strong. They can lift very heavy loads every day through slippery and steep roads. What surprised me is that Pekak is 78 years old and Mbah is 65 years old. wow they are amazing.
Although living in simplicity they never complain. I always see them smile as if there is no problem. I realize that true love is really does exist. Mbah and Pekak have lived together for decades. They always do things together. Mbah is always accompanied by a dog who is faithfully and guarding the house. Mbah and Pekak taught me that happiness is not a matter of money, that being happy is the matter of being able to see our loved ones every day and be grateful for what you get every day.
3 days left now until we finish our KKN. The atmosphere of my living place has began to be quiet. Some friends have brought their belongings home. Children began to force us to stay longer. Oh, I will miss the atmosphere of this KKN. I found my new family here. Ohh I’m really sad now. I can’t continue this story any longer.
My KKN will officially end on August 25th. As a form of respect for the village community of Babahan, we will hold a farewell event. Later, performances will be filled by children, mothers and youth of Babahan village. Like the previous program, I was again appointed as the MC at this event. I will do everything possible in this last event. I hope I will not cry when the event running.
Written by I Made Bayu Pratama, Act Global’s volunteer.