The discussion and feedback last week on How the Other Half Dies and poverty in general was quite heavy and weighed on my conscience so I feel I need to lighten up with a posting about a trip to Yogyakarta with my 8 year old boy, Abali, ten days ago. I find my family a leveller, and draws me out of constantly thinking about and wanting to change the world. Ablai said to me recently, " Dad, you help people but can you take Mahdi and I to football on Saturday." Naila my wife often says "you help everyone out there but can't you spend more time with your family." So I am getting the message and am beginning to get more balance into my life as I spend more time with my family.
I had a trip to Yogyakarta last week where the Red Cross built 12500 houses after the 2006 earthquake and we continue doing quite a lot of water sanitation work as well as running a rehabilitation programme for those with spinal injuries caused by crush injuries during the quake. The city and surrounding areas appear almost fully rehabilitated and life is almost back to normal. I need to attend a meeting on the future of our work there so I took Ablai with me as he was on school holidays. Ablai is on a cycle rickshaw below. While I was working, he went with friend on a cycle rickshaw. Some of the photos are his.
The pilots on our Garuda flight let Ablai sit in the cockpit and try the pilot's helmet on.
Located within the Yogyakarta province, Yogyakarta city is known as a center of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows.
The Sultan's palace
It is also famous as a center for Indonesian higher education. At Yogyakarta's center is the kraton, or Sultan's palace. While the city sprawls in all directions from the kraton, the core of the modern city is to the north.
Sultan palace in YogyakartaThe Yogyakarta Sultanate, formally the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, was formed in 1755 when the existing Sultanate of Mataram was divided by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in two under the Treaty of Giyanti. This treaty states that the Sultanate of Mataram was to be divided into the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat with Yogyakarta as the capital and Mangkubumi who became Sultan Hamengkubuwono I as its Sultan and the Sultanate of Surakarta Hadiningrat with Surakarta as the capital and Pakubuwono III who was the ruler of the Sultanate of Mataram as its Sultan. The Sultan Hamengkubuwono I spent the next 37 years building the new capital, with the Kraton as the centerpiece and the court at Surakarta as the blueprint model. By the time he died in 1792, his territory exceeded Surakarta's.
Borobudar, a Budhist site near Yogyakarta
The ruler Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX (April 12, 1912 - 1988) held a degree from the Dutch Leiden University, and held for a time the largely ceremonial position of Vice-President of Indonesia, in recognition of his status, as well as Minister of Finance and Minister of Defense.
In support of Indonesia declaring independence from the Dutch and Japanese occupation, in September 5, 1945, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX of Yogya and Sri Paku Alam VIII in Yogya declared their sultanates to be part of the Republic of Indonesia. In return for this unfailing support, a law was passed in 1950, in which Yogyakarta was granted the status of province Daerah Istimewa (Special Region Province), with special status that recognizes the power of the Sultan in his own region's domestic affairs. Hence Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX was appointed as the governor for life. During the Indonesian National Revolution against the Dutch after World War II (1945-1950), the capital of the newly-declared Indonesian republic was temporarily moved to Yogyakarta when the Dutch reoccupied Jakarta from January 1946 until August 1950.
The current ruler of Yogyakarta is his son, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who holds a law degree from Universitas Gadjah Mada. Upon the elder sultan's death, the position of governor, according to the agreement with Indonesia, was to pass to his heir. However, the central government at that time insisted on an election. In 1998, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X was elected as governor by the provincial house of representatives (DPRD) of Yogyakarta, defying the will of the central government. He remains the only governor in Java without a military background: "I may be a sultan," he has been quoted in Asia Week as saying, "but is it not possible for me to also be a democrat?"
The province of Yogyakarta bore the brunt of a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on 27 May 2006 which killed 5,782 people and left some 36,299 persons injured. More than 135,000 houses are damaged, and 600,000 people are homeless . The earthquake extensively damaged the local region of Bantul, and its surrounding hinterland. The most significant number of deaths occurred in this region.
The coincidence of the recent eruption of Mount Merapi, and the earthquake would not be lost on the older and more superstitious Javanese - as such natural phenonomena are given considerable
Abali took this photo of Mt. Merapi from the plane.
strong>A statue of Budha taken at Borobudar near Yogyakarta