A Year of Living Dangerously

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

On the road again...

Yesterday we got some great news. Phase I of the virgin coconut oil production proposal was approved. Phase I entails full, in-depth research about the site, logistics to and from, financials, etc.

Because it was approved, we are able to bring Phillip Johnson (PJ) with us to Sirombu today, as well as an environmental expert from Conservation International. We will take a good look at the environment and the health of the coconut trees – make sure they can sustain long-term health through harvesting.

This was particularly exciting for me because it has been a project I’ve been spear-heading since I arrived in Jakarta and it will also mean that I can complete the Phase II proposal before leaving Indonesia.

Excerpt from Phase I proposal:
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) production is a simple process that is only possible where there are abundant natural resources of coconut trees, which Sirombu and the outlying Hinako Islands have. The process requires relatively minimal capital investment and it creates a healthy product with reasonable profit margins. The process will also provide employment and training for the necessary skills is minimal.

With the profits from production, UID is considering establishing a micro-financing program in Sirombu. This would allow villagers to take out small loans for things like a sewing machine or fishing equipment.

The Phase II proposal, which will take the production facility through start-up, is going to require a lot of work.

SO, we’re leaving today for another (and most likely my last) trip to Sirombu. We have a very busy agenda:

Tuesday 2nd:
- fly to Medan

Wednesday 3rd:
- fly to Gunung Sitoli
- drive to Sirombu
- lunch
- tour of the village, tents, ruins, pier
- tour of housing, schools
- scholarship program discussion
- viewing of potential manufacturing sites
- viewing of coral beaches

Thursday 4th:
- boat trip to Hinako islands
- view villages
- view coconut tree groves
- check health of trees

Friday 5th:
- move first 18 families into new homes! Yay!
- drive back to Gunung Sitoli

Saturday 6th:
- fly back to Jakarta

I’ll be back in Jakarta on Saturday and Sunday and will tell you all about it then! Signing off…