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2019 - A Year in Retrospect


We are very keen to invite qualified and experienced English teachers (or teacher assistants) to stay in home style accommodation and teach English classes (volunteer) in selected Dayak communities in West Kalimantan (island of Borneo) in 2020 and beyond.

The head of programme is Dessy Plorinthina, who is from the Dayak Simpang tribe.

David Metcalf and Stephanie Brookes are assisting Dessy and have a strong connection with these communities and the children, the families and the teachers. The whole community are so excited to welcome volunteer teachers and teacher assistants. Thank you for taking an interest in this programme and we hope you join. 

Our aim is to improve the English speaking skills of the children and help to guide the local Indonesian teachers who currently work in a well-established literacy/cultural education programme (Sekolah Adat) and are very open to learn about child-centered learning and effective teaching methods and expand their knowledge and learn from you, more about the art of teaching.

Accommodation:  Your home-stay host will charge a very minimal housing cost and provide you with a room. You will become part of the family. Food will be at local prices. Room and board costs will be approx 70,000 rupiah per day (AUD 7.00) 

Transport:  Local transport to the village with meet and greet once you arrive in Kalimantan. Pontianak, West Kalimantan will be the gateway city you arrive in. Connections via Jakarta or Bali or other major cities. The transfer to the village will be provided at a very reasonable cost.  All these costings will be provided up front so you know the total cost.

Airfare:  You need to cover your own airfare.  Your destination city is either Pontianak (major city) or Putussibau (local regional town), West Kalimantan, Indonesia. 

A Warm Welcome:  As an English teaching volunteer, you will be warmly welcomed into the community with open arms. You will gain a wonderful insight into Dayak culture become part of the daily way of life. We feel this will be a life changing experience.

Time: Minimum 2 week programme.

  Maximum 3-6 months.

Teaching Hours:
   2 hours 4 x a week at Sekolah Adat Traditional School.  Total teaching hours 8 hours a week. This is a  private cultural traditional school program, which runs after school and links the elders with the children. There will also be time some time (around 4 hours a week) spent working with the teachers to help improve their teaching skills. This sharing will be invaluable to the teachers.


Let’s get teaching.  Let’s have fun.

Ages:  5 years to 13 years

Location No 1.  Tahak Village, Ketapang Regency located 4 hrs from Pontianak City, West Kalimantan

Location No 2:   Sungai Uluk, Kapuas Hulu Regency located 1 hour from Putussibau, West Kalimantan 

Location No 3:  Sungai Utik, Kapuas Hulu Regency located 2 hours from Putussibau, West Kalimantan

Free time:  suggested activities include bathing in the river every afternoon with the villagers, trekking in the beautiful forest with the elders and teachers and the children, participating in Dayak ceremonies by invitation, cooking classes in the kitchen with grandma and the family, sharing and learning basket weaving and sharing any craft you wish to bring to the village, participate in daily village life including foraging for food in the forest for forest fruits and plant medicine.

Does it sound like you?  Do you want to volunteer teach in a small village in Kalimantan?

Head of Programme/Teacher: Dessy Plorinthina (Dayak Simpang) Tahak

What’s App +62 822 5654 22396 Dessy

Please email any questions to Dave or Steph on:


Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you to our village for sharing, teaching, friendship and the gift of education to local villagers in Kalimantan.


I believe empowering the indigenous communities and supporting the woman in the villages and rural areas is critical to solving the problems of deforestation and cultural destruction.

The forests contain significant economic value and will produce forever if they are cared for and managed sustainably.

Nobody knows how to do this better than the indigenous people, the Guardians of the forest who have managed the forests sustainably for thousands of years .

Accordingly I am a great fan and supporter of this project started by a very intelligent and self empowered Dayak man from Central Kalimantan.

I met Randi a few years ago and I was immediately impressed with his vision and determination to support his people who have been subject to exploitation by mining , gold and palm oil companies in the area where he grew up.
Randi gained a scholarship to study in Melbourne, Australia and graduated in 2018 and started this project with other young Dayak people and has built a strong and determined team.

I encourage you to support them in anyway you can, at the very least by purchasing some of their beautiful products.

Link to Website for more information  


Handep Haruei is an agriculture-based social enterprise dedicated to produce, preserve and create added value for locally-grown and forest-based produce – such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. We specialize in growing local and organic fruits and vegetables and producing processed forest-based produce, including herbs, and spices. We also provide capacity building processes for local farmers, all based on sustainable agriculture practices.
Central to our work is collaborating with the local community through capacity building and creating added value for forest-based produce to ensure its attractiveness amidst an increasingly-modernizing society. We operate by the Dayak wisdom, which is complemented by sustainability science as we acknowledge that the complexity of our changing environment resulting from human activities cannot be addressed with indigenous and local knowledge alone. Thus, integrating both forms of knowledge has become our core approach.
The phrase “Handep Haruei” is borrowed from the Dayak Ngaju dialect. Handep is a culture of working together and helping each other within the community, while Haruei means family. Handep Haruei therefore collectively means the spirit of working together and helping each other as a family.


Strengthening local agriculture and creating added value to Kalimantan forest-based produce to help enhance local food security, re-value and preserve forests, and support economic development.

Our Specialties

• Organic fruits and vegetables; • Processed forest-based produce; • Processed herbs and spices for cooking; • Capacity building for sustainable agriculture.

Why Are We Important?

We aim to create locally-sensitive economic development opportunities and practices that embrace indigenous and local knowledge and halt future deforestation and biodiversity loss. In that, our work embodies a place-based sustainable development that draws upon a bottom-up approach.


• Working together with local and indigenous communities on sustainable agriculture projects; • Preserving local traditions and cultures; • Enhancing social and economic capital; • Establishing local food security; • Ensuring fair trade across the supply chain; • Creating added value with Kalimantan forest-based products for economic development; • Encouraging the preservation of forests and biodiversity; • Serving as an incubator for agriculture enterprises.


This project is the brainchild of Sanne Van Oort a dutch woman who is passionate about capturing and preserving the wisdom and stories of indigenous woman.
This is achieved through producing short documentary films, mostly filmed by indigenous film makers themselves, and organising programs to bring educators together to explore ways to create a sustainable future.
By utilising modern technology and combining this with ancient wisdom Mother Jungle aims to raise the voice of indigenous people, and use this knowledge as a guide to lead us to create a better future for the communities and the environment. 
The Mother Jungle films have been featured at my indigenous film festivals and the Bali International Film Festival in 2018.
More information here

Support Intergenerational Communication

Preserving the traditions of our past yet framing them in a modern idiom. “Tell me the stories of your grandparents. Use anything you want: a telephone, a recording device, or video camera – whatever.”
The elders say that storytellers are the wisdom people. How we see the world is how we tell our story. When an elder dies, a library is burned, and with it wisdom and knowledge are lost. For centuries, cultures throughout the world have used indigenous technologies to navigate life’s complexities. Vast sums of knowledge are available but in modern society we forget to recognize it. Mother Jungle aims to make elder wisdom compelling to the next generation. We speak to young people in a language they’re using by giving them a platform to tell the stories that are meaningful to them. We respect the potential of integrating new technologies to support this intergenerational exchange.

SEKOLAH ADAT : Indigenous Cultural Preservation

This is a great example of youth leadership and young woman in the communities determined to preserve their culture and bringing the elders together with the youth to keep the rituals and beliefs alive.
There are now 36 customary schools in Indonesia including 18 in West Kalimantan.
I support the ones in West Kalimantan and we hope this program will spread to hundreds of communities over the next few years.

Sekolah Adat is conducted in informal environments, sometimes in the forests and bring elders together to teach the children about the history, stories, and other aspects of the culture such as weaving, tattooing,traditional music, dance, the medicinal benefits of plants and trees from the forest.

Here is a story I wrote after a visit to one of the villages and an interview with the founder Modesta Wisa .

Two short documentaries about Seko

A percentage of my photo tours supports Sekolah Adat and we are raising funds to support spreading this program throughout Kalimantan.


I think it is very important to bring indigenous people together from around the world to learn from each other, give the indigenous people the stage, and help raise their voice in a spirit of Unity, Collaboration, Sharing, Inspiration and Celebration through art.

Below is a list of these gatherings

  • 2014 Organised for Kevin Locke , Lakota cultural ambassador , flute player, hoop dancer to travel with six dayak elders and a film crew to an isolated area in North Kalimantan.
  • 2016 Introduced Dayak dancers and music to Bali Spirit festival for the first time
  • 2017 Organised for Kevin Locke, Doug Good Feather ( Lakota ) and Happy Frejo ( pawnee/seminole) to collaborate with Dayak dancers from North Kalimantan in Jakarta and Bali, and then were honoured guests at the traditional Gawai rice harvest ceremony in West Kalimantan. Introduced Dayak writers and speakers to the Ubud Writers Festival for the first time
  • 2018 Jan – Indigenous Film Festival Bali (1st ever in Bali) – Organised with Emmanuela Shinta – Dayak youth from Central Kalimantan to present the first indigenous film festival in Bali, bringing 15 film makers together over 3 days .
  • 2018 May – Indigenous Celebration Bali (1st ever in Bali to host 180 tribal participants) – Organised with Shinta and the Ranu Welum team to present an Indigenous Celebration, bringing together 180 indigenous dancers, musicians, artists from overseas and Indonesia in a spirit of dance , music and story telling at the Arma resort in Bali.
  • 2018 May – Gawai Dayak Celebration Pontianak, West Kalimantan – Arranged for the first ever group of Aboriginal performers to dance on the opening of the Gawai Dayak celebration in Pontianack , West Kalimantan .
  • 2019 May – Indigenous Film Festival Bali (2nd in Bali) Held the second international indigenous film festival in Bali, this time with 35 film makers, directors, activists over three days and showed 52 documentaries.
  • 2019 July – Indigenous Film Festival Kuching (1st ever) Helped organise the first indigenous film festival in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia Borneo as part of the Rainforest Fringe Festival
  • 2019 July – World Rainforest Music Festival (23,000 audience) Worked with the organisers of the World Rainforest Music Festival in Kuching to bring Naga and Dayak Iban tribes together for the first time, and the Spirit of the hornbills dance academy from Kalimantan to perform at this major festival.
  • 2019 December – Woodford Folk Festival (160,000 audience) The Spirit of the Hornbill dance academy has been invited to perform at Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland, Australia


I thought I would give you a summary of our year at David Metcalf Photography, some of the highlights and plans moving forward into 2020.


I have been taking small groups of people into indigenous communities over the past 7 years to North, West and Central Kalimantan, Java, Bali, Myanmar, North Vietnam, India , Nagaland, Montana ( USA ), Alaska.
A percentage of these journeys goes to support some of the programs featured here.
I also have specific tourism programs operating in three communities , Kapuas Hulu area in West Kalimantan, Setulang Village in North Kalimantan and Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan
I believe this form of responsible tourism can benefit the communities economically ( about 80% of the income goes directly to the communities ) , bring more awareness to the participants, it establishes and reinforces cultural identity, provides alternative income to jobs in industries that destroy the environment, and can help protect sacred sites and the environment.
It also creates opportunities for friendships to be formed and a greater understanding of each others beliefs and values.
However it must come from the communities with the intention to benefit the Indigenous people, not from a position of only making money.
There are the Larrakia principles of indigenous tourism that should be followed and can serve as an example to others, especially in Indonesia which is the early stages of responsible tourism.
Please refer to
In recognizing that tourism provides the ability to restore, protect and promote Indigenous cultures. Improperly developed, it also has the potential to diminish and destroy those same cultures. The Larrakia Declaration (2012) sets out six principles to inspire equal partnerships between the tourism industry and indigenous peoples that support community empowerment and the well-being of the local economy, environment, and culture.

Facebook – Bali Indigenous Film Festival
Instagram –
I believe documentary film is a very powerful tool to empower the indigenous communities to tell their stories and raise their voice. It also enables non indigenous to reflect and see the world through the eyes of indigenous people and helps de colonise .
I decided to organise the first Bali International Indigenous film festival with Emmanuela Shinta from Ranu Welum in 2018 and invited Surya Shanker a film maker from Odisha in India and show some of his films on the opening night. We also invited Indigenous Film Makers and makers of films about indigenous communities and quite a variety of participants for our first festival.
After Bali, Shinta organised the first indigenous film fest in her home town of Palangkaraya in Central Borneo, and after this 5 day event we took films into the communities in West Kalimantan for a few days. Surya joined us on this journey and then went back to India and organised the first Intl Indigenous film fest in India in Feb 2019.
We then had the second one in Bali in May which was much bigger with 35 film makers, directors, activist including many young Indonesian Indigenous film makers and was a great success. 

Then in July in Kuching Shinta and I are curators for the first Indigenous film festival in Sarawak which brings many Dayak film makers together for discussions, talks and movie presentations.
The objective moving forward is to see Indigenous film festivals happening all over Indonesia and the Asia region. These will provide a springboard to support and train indigenous film makers, enable opportunities for film makers to work together and raise their voice, and there is a project underway to take films into the communities by training teachers, educators and film makers through educational screening kits.
We believe arming the less educated communities with the education through film it can help protect the forests and lands on which they live.


Borneo’s forests and culture is fast disappearing. One way to raise awareness is through Cultural expression and Dance and communicating to people the Importance of developing this art form.
Based in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, this dance academy promotes traditional Dayak dancing. Local dancer and teacher, Ibu Siti Habibah, runs the academy. Siti and her partner Yadi provide traditional dance and music instruction to young Dayak children. Plans are to expand this program to the more remote villages as a way for the children to express their culture and keep the Dayak dance tradition alive.
The Hornbills have won many awards and have a reputation as one of the best dance academy in Palangkaraya, which is quite an achievement as there are more than 50 in this city of 250,000.
They have performed in Jakarta on three occasions and in Bali at Ubud Writers Festival, Bali Spirit Festival, Indigenous Celebration and other events
We plan to take Dayak dancers to travel overseas and introduce their dance and cultural beliefs to an international audience.

Future Plans

The Hornbills will perform for the first time in Sarawak, Malaysia Borneo in July 2019 at the Rainforest World Music Festival. They have been invited to perform at the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland , Australia in December 2019, which draws a audience of 120,00 over the 6 days. Dance and music academy centre to be built in Palangkaraya Future dance collaboration opportunities with Indigenous dance groups. This happened with an Aboriginal group in May 2019 Ongoing programs to record Dayak music & dance Provide dance teaching to children in remote villages in Central Kalimantan Collaborate and teach Dayak dancers from other parts of Kalimantan

Financial needs:

Funding needed to train more teachers and ongoing running costs of the Dance Studio. Traditional music instruments for the villages Dance Uniforms (handmade) Dayak accessories to demonstrate and express their culture. To learn more about this project, please visit Spirit of The Hornbill website at Some of their amazing performances can be seen here

Short Term goal

Expanding health and environmental classes twice a week in each village. Providing teacher training, increasing the graduation number of village teenagers from Senior High School. Promoting healthy food choices by building organic farming plots and sustainable farming methods.

Long term goal

Spreading the program to more villages, developing learning centers in each village, encouraging sustainable economic alternatives. Ransel Buku has been working for almost 6 years now in the river-side villages in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, to help facilitate the children from these poor communities to get access to books.

RANU WELUM : Indigenous Youth Movement

In the words of Shinta – For a long time Dayak people have been put into a frame by mainstream media. It causes stigma that later lead into discrimination, negative understanding, even bullying toward indigenous people of Kalimantan. We dream to change the way world see us by bringing you the stories from the heart of the island, which are amazing, inspiring and showing who we truly are.”
Ranu Welum is a organisation established in Palangkaraya by Emmanuela Shinta , a young activist and film maker from the Dayak Maanyan tribe. Established in 2017 at first they focussed on film and video making to raise the voices of Dayak people in Kalimantan. Working together with NGOs and youth communities in Palangkaraya, they hold events and workshops to train young people how to use media as a tool to express the aspirations, culture and life of the Dayak in Kalimantan.

In 2016 they joined the anti-haze movement as an act to help people during the destructive forest fires that engulfed the area. They visited local villages in Central Kalimantan to distribute masks, medicine and nutrition to people who were unable to afford it. The volunteers also travelled on motorbikes, in the middle of dense smog to distribute masks to the villagers.
Working together with local doctors and health workers they conducted health service and medical check-up to the villagers, educating them about the haze and how to maintain their health during and after the haze.
There is a village, Gunung Karasik, it is about 8 hour from Palangkaraya. This village is very isolated, the villagers did not receive any help during the haze. Most villagers only eat once a day. They went there and distributed supplies, nutrition, conducted medical check up and health service. There were so many people that needed help and these brave and committed young Dayak people were the only ones to help them.

For more information about the wonderful work that these young activists do, please refer to www.



Ransel Buku is an educational project that brings environmental education through books, reading and providing educational games to children in villages in Central Kalimantan. They also provide traditional dance and music teaching and environmental education.
One village is on the Rungan River called Petuk Katimpun and the other village is called Marang. 500 children directly benefit NOW from this program, and we have seen tremendous progress in literacy levels and overall academic performance. It serves as a great example of what can be achieved with no government support, just the determination of teachers to provide good quality education for the children. Ransel Buku is supported by village elders, parents, fellow volunteers, professional photographer David Metcalf, donors and others who believe that it is the responsibility of everybody to support access to education for better future. Three teachers are employed full-time and we wish to hire more. Volunteer teachers are currently required.
Three of the Dayak teachers were trained in Bali as part of an internship program at Pelangi and Green School. We set up a floating library in 2016 which takes books and a teacher by boat to more remote villages once a week.