On the Ability to Withstand Adversity and Bounce Back from Difficult Life Events

Story by A. Ruwidrijarto


If you want to understand resilience, meet Ester.

In her 20 years of age, Ester has been through difficult life events more than her fair share. When she was a very little child, she and her parents and 3 brothers and sister were evicted from the land, losing their house in the process. When she was a teenager, an accident took away her father’s leg, subsequently put the family in even harsher social-economic hardship. And just when things started to get better in recent years, with them having their own little plot of land to build a house, tile floor and all, Cyclone Seroja erased everything of material value that they had. Only the tile floor remains.

It was April 5, 2021. They had to evacuate and lived in an emergency shelter. It was total chaos. A period of mourning and sorrowing.

That period did not last long, though. They gave it only two weeks and then they resolved to move on, rebuild their life, and to keep on living in joy and love and dignity.

Ester and family decided that the house built with support from the community, Sekolah Alam Manusak and Samdhana included, will be a temporary shelter, using local materials, gewang, and not on the exact site of the original house. This is so that someday they can again build their house on that remaining ceramic tile floor.


Ester, Mama, Lodia

With those brightest smiles, with their spirit and determination, with friends and relatives, the community of Felakdale, East Kupang got up and stand up. Together with Sekolah Alam Manusak and many others who are part of the community they support each other and become even stronger.

They have started working on their garden and farms, planting keladi and banana and chilli, producing kopra, and do something new too: forming a group, women mostly, that creates tableware and various accessories out of coconut shells.

The Soke, coco shell, Group is learning fast all aspects of this enterprise: the organizing, the art and skill of this craft, the managing, promoting and marketing. They have to learn fast because as it happened, on August 24, 2021, the first day of Menoken di Tana Timor, they’re already over-ordered. The Soke Group needs more drilling and cutting and sanding machines, bigger and more suitable work area, some place to store and show products, some system to keep finance and administration in order.

“Everything will be beautiful in its time,” said Ipen (Yeti, Ibu Pendeta or Mam Priest) who is the one, along with Yahya, Jerry, Lila, Fons, and others of Sekolah Alam Manusak, being there with the community during the adversity, lending hand, supporting and facilitating.

In her 20 years of age, Ester has been through difficult life events more than her fair share. When she was a very little child, she and her parents and 3 brothers and sister were evicted from the land, losing their house in the process. When she was a teenager, an accident took away her father’s leg, subsequently put the family in even harsher social-economic hardship. And just when things started to get better in recent years, with them having their own little plot of land to build a house, tile floor and all, Cyclone Seroja erased everything of material value that they had. Only the tile floor remains.

It was April 5, 2021. They had to evacuate and lived in an emergency shelter. It was total chaos. A period of mourning and sorrowing.

That period did not last long, though. They gave it only two weeks and then they resolved to move on, rebuild their life, and to keep on living in joy and love and dignity.

Ester and family decided that the house built with support from the community, Sekolah Alam Manusak and Samdhana included, will be a temporary shelter, using local materials, gewang, and not on the exact site of the original house. This is so that someday they can again build their house on that remaining ceramic tile floor.

If you do, please message noken.community on the Instagram for more information, contact, and how to.
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As for me, meeting Ester I understand resilience. I now know that to be resilient is to have the ability to smile the brightest smiles, have that spirit and determination, that elasticity. To be resilient is to be able to plant keladi-banana-chili, create and learn everything, and do it fast. It’s to have friends and relatives: a community. It’s to always have that joy and dignity. It is love, basically..

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