This is Pak Mus. He teaches at Gili Air SD primary school, but he is much more than that to the community. Everyone knows him and loves him. As a teacher since 1990, he has now taught two generations of people on Gili Air, which means he is now teaching the children of his original students! Mus is a humble, well educated man who travels between Lombok and Gili Air to support his family. When he is not teaching, he is selling bungkus to school staff and the locals, and bracelets to the tourists.
I see him walking toward me with a big smile. He radiates a coolness, a sense of relaxation and approachability.
He shakes my hand and leads me to a bench on the beach.
I’ve heard the people of Gili really love you, they have such nice things to say about you. What’s your favorite thing about Gili Air?
“We still have more friendly people. We really care about our families, we still have that. Sometimes you go to Gili Trawangan, eh, you don’t see it so much now.”
And your work, what specifically do you love about your work and the time you’ve spent doing it?
“Ah, teaching, yea. I love it. I love my teaching. Because the kids stay close with me, yea. I didn’t come for one day and every kid asks me “AHHH, where were you?!” Yeah, teacher is good job. Must do it with heart.”
And do most of the kids stay in the area, or on the island?
“Oh yes, all of them.”
Whats your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
“Oh, you know I try to always sell. You know maybe when I retire i’ll just sell more jewelry.”
Were you here for the earthquake?
“Yea, I was at home during the earthquake. Six o’clock I leave from Gili Air, got home seven o’clock… earthquake nearly 8 o’clock. After shower, after dinner, earthquake come. It was very bad for my family. We have 6 kids… I had to look for my kids, find where they are. I have twins stay at grandmas and another kid stay at aunts, ah really hard to find them.”
But Everyone was ok?
“Yea, everybody ok. Also my house was ok, a little bit bad, but just a little. Some people lost much more.”
How did that affect the kids at the school?
“Mhmm, mhmm, after the earthquake,… two weeks after that we go back to school, we give the kids trauma healing. We give the kids more time, get them to still play on and study on. We call parents and see how they are. We teach them what to do, where to go if there is another earthquake.”
So what is the best thing that visitors can do to help?
“The school is welcome for anyone. It’s good for us, good for the kids. It’s fun to have them. We can study more of the culture, western culture.”
So do the kids like it? Learning about western culture from foreigners?
“Yea yea yea! Like what I said before, we are from Gili. Here we say welcome to the tourists. But we must study from the tourists because they bring more positive things. They are more disciplined, yea that’s good. And when the tourists come here our economy is better. After the earthquake, no tourists, very bad for our economy.”
Can you share a fun fact about yourself? Like.. whats your favorite local food?!
oh!!! Gado gado!! Boiled potato with peanut sauce, a little bit chili. Can put egg or tofu on top. Just a little bit of chili, not too spicy!
Mus then smiles, and looks anxiously to his right. There is a boat waiting for him to take him home to Lombok for the afternoon. I thank him for sharing with me.
He grabs my hands, gives me a smile and a thumbs up and trots down to the water.