SkillCorps Indonesia has already been an eventful trip!! It took us quite a while to get here, as significant flight delays in Abu Dhabi left us stranded there for an additional 12 hours. By the time we finally arrived, we’d been traveling for 36 hours and were EXHAUSTED! Our guest house is wonderful, but definitely a culture shock—a lot to take in on the first day! The traffic on our street is non-stop—way too dangerous to cross on foot—and there is a mosque right across the street from us that issues the call to prayer 5 times a day. Needless to say, we were a little overwhelmed our first day!

However, our first day at YCHI was just what we needed to bring us back to life. On the first day, we had our “welcoming meetings” and got to meet all the therapists we’ll be working with this week. We got to meet Mr. Zulfikar Allimuddin, the founder of YCHI, who shared with us his story of having a son with autism and how this motivated him to start the foundation. His life story is deeply inspiring, as is his passion for serving the underserved populations of Indonesia. He shared with us today a message that really stuck with me. In the movie Forrest Gump, there is a saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

But, as Zulfikar pointed out—this isn’t totally true. With chocolates, you can kind of guess what you’re going to get, and know it’s all chocolate! Life isn’t like that. Sometimes things don’t always turn out the way you expect. You might end up having a child with autism. Or you can’t find a job. Or as in the case of the families served by YCHI, you might lose your house to a flood, or not be able to feed your family. Life isn’t like a box of chocolates, but sometimes it turns out for the best. Sometimes, the things that happen to you that push you the most, like having a child with autism, inspires you to do the things that change the world the most—like starting YCHI. SkillCorps is like this too—getting stranded in Abu Dhabi isn’t exactly what we signed up for, but it was totally worth it so far! We are grateful for Zulfikar and all he is done here, and grateful to be in Indonesia. The hard places are where we grow the most.

Emily Boshkoff-Johnson

Research and Training Coordinator 

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