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Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 8. Monday, July 1, 1963

Inventive Kiwis In Indonesia

Inventive Kiwis In Indonesia

Volunteer service abroad is an escape route for those who want less than they get from the Welfare State. Ron and Anne Kilgour assured Salient that New Zealanders are ideal for adapting to conditions in Indonesia.

Faced with a new problem the New Zealander doesn't scream for Mammy, or call on his old Public School code, he simply rubs two figurative sticks together, and more often than not he sparks something off.

Versatility, our pioneer heritage, is really more valuable to the Indonesians than a few tons of American machinery and expertise. Ron Kilgour Illustrated this point with an example of work, begun by Volunteers, but now taken over entirely by Indonesians.

The Indonesians, it seems, kept sheep purely as pets and playthings for the children. In the hot weather the wool would be clipped and thrown away. A Volunteer observed this, and starting with one case, explained the possibilities of using the wool. He searched around and found an old spinning wheel left from the Japanese occupation, and the project was started. An expert was brought from New Zealand, advice was given, and a new cottage industry was born.

It is in this ability to exploit whatever possibilities he finds, as well as in the teaching on specialist work he is trained for, that the Volunteer contributes to the growth of an underdeveloped country.

The material rewards are meagre, but the chance of learning a new language, absorbing an exotic way of life, and gaining professional experience is a rare one.

The best proof Ron and Anne Kilgour gave of their satisfaction with the work they have done was in their plans for the future. They want to go back to Indonesia.

"Tell the people of New Zealand this is the golden age for volunteers," Ron Kilgour was told while in Indonesia.

Passing: the message on, Kilgour spoke to students about the trials and rewards of life as a member of the Indonesian civil service under the auspices of the New Zealand Council for Volunteer Service Abroad. As part of the Volunteer Graduate Scheme, Kilgour, his wife and five other New Zealanders have served or are serving, terms of two to four years in Indonesia.

During this time they have worked at such diverse tasks as hospital administration and catching tax evaders. They have lived on the local diet ranging from rice to fried frogs legs and picked up such local customs as avoiding use of the left or "impolite" hand in company.

Although among "the most polite and friendly people in the world." Indonesians have some unusual ideas, said Kilgour. One is that students should be free from all manual tasks. Some grow their fingernails long to emphasise this. "New Zealanders make ideal volunteers." Kilgour commented. "Americans think in terms of what they can get from home. New] Zealanders know they can't get help anyway, so they just go ahead with the job."