Asia West Pacific – July 2018

Violin, Conservation, and Peace Building

Peace Place Pati, Central Java, Indonesia 

Out-of-School Children Learn Carpentry 
Poverty is always in line with the world of violence. In 1993, a small community of Mennonite churches in Gembong village sent school dropouts to learn to carpentry in Sukodono Village, Jepara in attempt to care for out-of-school children. The aim was to reduce unemployment and the potential for violence among adolescents.

Ngatmin, a courageous and spirited 16-years-old, independently followed in the footsteps of one of the apprentices, who happened to be a neighbor and friend. With his basic craftsmanship, Ngatmin had no trouble developing and improving his skills in carving and learning to improve the quality of his skills in Sukodono, Jepara.

With his experience, in 2009, Ngatmin went to work in Bogor to become a craftsman. There he met musicians who also pursued the furniture business. Upon their meeting, Ngatmin developed his skills and devoted himself specifically to making violins. In 2012, he returned to his village for family reasons.

Bamboo Violins
Since the 2000s, Ngatmin was anxious when he saw many bamboo trees around his village that were cut down because they disturbed and covered coffee plants. The bamboo is considered by the community as a useless plant because it has no selling value, though its roots are able to protect the slopes of Muria. People in Japan Village only take the young bamboo to sell to the town as a vegetable, or material to build a house, cage, or kitchen.

Ngatmin made the first bamboo violin in 2012. His goal was for bamboo to be valued by the community and not carelessly cut down. For him, bamboo plays a big role in guarding the slopes of Muria so that it would not be easily susceptible to landslides or floods. Bamboo also creates a distinctive, loud sound that makes it suitable as a violin material. He also thinks that producing violins can motivate village youth to be innovative and create new jobs. Currently, with three friends, they are able to produce six bamboo violins in one month.

As an effort to support Peace Place Pati’s peace building movement, Ngatmin will donate 35% of every sale of Bamboo Violin done by Peace Place Pati for IDR 3,000,000 or $ 214 (2018).

Ngatmin and Petrus in the machine shop for making violins Japan, Kudus, Central Java, July 2018. Taken by Tito.

Several types of violins of Ngatmin Production (Mbah Min), July 2018. Photographer Petrus.