Tuesday, October 24, 2017


The 4th Asia Pacific Life Matters Course (LMC) Indonesia

Bogor, 12th – 20th August, 2017


The Life Matters Course (LMC) is a residential course for young adults to shape a path and purpose for living. The courses have run continuously since 1995. LMC was originally initiated by Initiatives of Change (IofC) Australia and the 4th Asia Pacific-LMC was held in Bogor, Indonesia. This year’s course brought together 33 participants from seven countries and from various backgrounds. The theme was finding a path and purpose in life.


In the opening ceremony, Irna Yugaswatie, the president of IofC Indonesia delivered her opening speech to welcome all participants and to thank faculty members for their hard work and support. She also thanked all donors for their contributions to make this course happen. Umam, a former participant of LMC shared his experience while attending the LMC in Australia. “We are sometimes too busy to think about other people, till we forget to think of ourselves.” Umam realized that he had a family conflict which he used to ignore. After joining the LMC, he reflected and wanted to connect more with his family.

In his welcoming remarks Rob Wood, the main facilitator of LMC invited the participants to think deeply about their readiness to be change makers in society. “May LMC be a space for us to reflect on our path and life purpose and make friends for life”. At the end of the opening ceremony, students of Jagat Arsy boarding school, a partner of IofC Indonesia performed a dance. At last, we were ready to learn and experience the course.

During the community building day, the participants visited the Hope Learning Center (HLC), a center for refugees located in Cisarua. Mustofa, from Afghanistan was inspired by the children and he loved to see children smiling. “The children struggle to continue their life and I see it as hope.” HLC is a symbol of commitment of people working together. They may struggle with their financial situation as well but they learn to face their difficulties. The community gives hope and embraces the refugees as part of the world.

Dr. Agus Mulyana, a speaker in a panel sharing session, said that we should create peace through the values of religion and respect other religious beliefs. Family problems will never end. He runs some classes for children and adults to learn about the Al Qur’an at his mosque. “We should create peace and share goodness to fellow humans. It is good to see people concerned enough to want to create a peaceful life so that we can all feel secure.” The participants learnt to love, be sincere, and respect one to another. Everyone can be community builders wherever we are by starting conversation and building relationships. “Acceptance is the key and understanding one another makes everything possible.”

Each morning there was time for quiet reflection after some input was given on a topic such as: the standards we aim to live by: apology and forgiveness: gratitude. Saying sorry is a commitment because when we say sorry, we commit not to repeat the mistake. When an apology is given and responsibility is accepted, we may find ourselves feeling free. When we forgive, it doesn’t automatically make things right but it can take us a step forward.  

We all need a spark of inspiration and at times are given ideas which can make things possible if we pursue them. Wendi Wijarwadi shared from his experience as part of IofC Indonesia since 2006. “As an auditor in a government office, I was challenged to apply honesty, a value which I learnt from IofC. “Commitment is the most important aspect. I commit to work professionally and honestly in my work place, moreover I have to deal with the corruption issue. When I continued my master’s degree in the United States, I realize how my involvement in IofC has a big influence in my life.”

During life story sharing session, Nenden from Indonesia shared her life story - how her parents treated her, how she found happiness, and finally, how she discovered her inner voice. “I used to be alone when something bad happened to me, but after I knew the power of sharing, it relieved me it really helped me. Since then sharing is very important to me”. It is okay to cry, it’s a part of body-healing, the body can express the pain inside by crying.

The participants were divided into groups, they reflected on some questions and then shared within the group. The questions were -  What qualities do I have that are important to be a change maker?;  What is a first step towards being a change maker that you can take right now?; and What challenges do I see in the journey?  The challenges always exist such as financial issues and human resources. Anne, from Indonesia said that everyone could be a change maker as long as we have a willingness to make a positive change.

All participants gave a presentation about their culture and their country so that everyone could learn about each other’s cultures. As Rob Wood said, “We only have to understand each other’s cultures so that we can respect them. Be open to the world, respect each other, and peace will come out of it”.

The participants learnt to change ourselves, engage others, create answers, and give hope to humanity. The participants took a pause and reflected on the journey they had been through. They thought about the issues they were concerned about and what actions they were going to take. At the conclusion of Life Matters, we made commitments for our own lives and surroundings to find purposes in life and to create a better world.


Reported by Yofrina Octika Gultom