‘Come as a guest, leave as family’

Ferdinandus “Nando” Watu

Ferdinandus “Nando” Watu

Co-founder, RMC Detusoko

RMC Detusoko is a collective developing new opportunities to promote Lio heritage and agriculture. Through their travel venture, Decotourism, travellers can immerse themselves in the daily lives of the Lio community.

“Decotourism is about ‘travelling with purpose.’ It means minimal ecological footprint, substantial economic impact to the communities visited, and the mutual exchange of knowledge and culture. You come as a guest, and leave as family.

Our Lio identity can be summed up as lika, iné and oné: we are a people of one hearth, one mother and one house. We invite travellers to experience this through daily activities such as tending the garden, picking coffee, feeding pigs, or planting rice. Meanwhile, we also visit ancient villages, megalithic gravesites and hot springs.

Lio daily life is based on five relationships. The first is with God, which we call Du’a Gheta Lulu Wula, Ngga’e Ghale Wena Tana—Heavenly Father and Mother Earth. The others are relationships with the ancestors, nature, fellow humankind and the self.

Inspired by Joko Widodo’s 2013 presidential campaign,  the idea [for RMC Detusoko] popped one evening with friends around the bonfire, and started off as a literacy movement facilitating book donations from Java to local schools here. Over time, this developed into Remaja Mandiri Community (RMC, or Bahasa Indonesia for “self-sufficient youth community”)

I spent 2014 to 2015 studying Ecotourism Management in the US, and 2016 to 2017 in Ende working as a facilitator for Swisscontact’s rural community-based tourism and solid waste management projects. During that time, I remained active with RMC, and eventually moved back to Detusoko in 2018.  

My partner Eka Rajakopo and I started an English course, which children paid for by depositing recyclables in our waste bank. We had no donors, so Eka and I allocated part of our incomes to provide for RMC operations. That’s when we realised we needed a clearer direction. Hence we defined our four programmes: informal education, sustainable agriculture, social enterprise and Decotourism.

In five to ten years, I see RMC as a full-fledged training centre for local youth, and a business catering to international markets. Underlying this is the hope for our youth to return to the village and farm. Farmers are our future. It’s time for our youth to develop our own value-added products and services, and let our work do the talking.”

Read more about Decotourism

  •  Grace Tan-Johannes 
  •  Andra Fembriarto 

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