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Synopsis

A People in Crisis . . . A Young Woman’s Adventure . . . A School for Life The Orang Rimba (People of the Forest) are nomadic tribes living in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia as hunter-gatherers. Today, the outside world has arrived at their doorstep. From illegal loggers chain-sawing the jungle to government-sponsored transmigrants working in palm oil plantations, the outsiders are encroaching upon the rainforest. While they have the skills needed to preserve their jungle, the Orang Rimba are ill prepared to deal with land contracts or sale of rainforest products. What can be done to help them? Butet Manurung shares the journal she kept during her first year in the jungle. She tells of her adventures with stinging bees, prowling bears, and motorbikes. Most touchingly, she describes how her relationship with the Orang Rimba develops as she transforms from an outsider to a trusted teacher within the community. Her trials and errors are familiar to anyone who has ever been a teacher, even though her students often wear loincloths and trap animals for lunch. Will learning to read and write be enough to help the Orang Rimba save their rainforest? Butet tells the story of her journey from anthropologist to educator to activist. She explains how and why she founded SOKOLA to bring literacy to indigenous people in areas too remote to access education. The work of this foundation and its adventurous volunteers is an excellent example of how a small number of individuals can effect change.

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