Oni Dju Lete is an Indonesian student studying project management at Edmonds Community College through the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program. In this blog piece, Oni reflects on how the Gates Foundation Visitor Center inspires visitors to follow through with their ideas and her plans for starting an NGO with her sister after she returns to Indonesia.
In the fall we visited the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. Personally, the story of how this foundation was created really inspired me. The tradition of giving started as a simple family value that was taught to Bill Gates and Melinda French as children. This family value resulted in a global impact. Bill Gates and Melinda French were raised knowing it is important to give back to the community.
The tour of the visitor center started with some information about the history of the foundation and an introduction to both the Gates and French families’ history. We learned that a newspaper article about malaria and the idea that something could be done to prevent this disease initially inspired Bill and Melinda to build the foundation. Our tour also introduced us to the programs and activities that the foundation currently works on. The tour ended with a visit to an interactive room displaying new inventions that can help developing countries in health and development. In the interactive room, we also had a chance to share and express our own ideas. We brainstormed how to do something in order to make a difference and impact a community. Our ideas were posted online and shared on social media.
The concept of a charity organization is not very common in Indonesia. Sometimes rich people, like big businessmen or celebrities, will have their own charity organization which gives scholarships to underprivileged children that have good academic achievement in school, but the general population doesn’t really hear much about it.
Learning about the Gates Foundation was great because we were led to think about simple things that we may have never thought of before that can have a big impact. The tour encouraged me to think more seriously about what I want to work on when I go back to Indonesia. For example, my sister and I have a desire to build a community learning center for the local underprivileged children on Sabu island in East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. Sabu island is one the most remote areas in East Nusa Tenggara. It takes almost 12 hours by ferry from Kupang (the capital city of east Nusa Tenggara) to reach this island, which makes development in all aspects slow, especially in the areas of education and English teaching. My sister and I have already registered the Sabu Morning Star foundation as a non-governmental organization. My sister is doing the teaching program in the local communities there through partnership with local churches, and I hope that the professional development I gain this year in the field of project management will be helpful in running this organization in the future.
In the same way that the Gates Foundation started with a single idea and good intentions, I hope that we too can one day help many people. I don’t know what will happen with our dream, but as they say at the Gates Foundation, you have to start somewhere; if you have a good idea then let that good idea lead into the future.
For more information on the Sabu Morning Star (SMS) Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/SMSNGO
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.