During the recent International SALT visit in Indonesia, we started the session by asking this question: Are we human? What doesn't mean to be human?"

Well, needless to say, it was very easy to answer the question. Words like patient, listening, compassion, forgiving, etc...etc... were being offered.

The next day after our visit to the Transgender community, I went back to my room and started to ponder about what is really the question. I felt the question probably is " are we relating as human? What does it mean to relate as human?" The difference here is the word "relating". This question has been staying with me since then till now and I am still figuring it out!

Anyway, I felt challenged to the very core of what it means to relate as human during the recent visits to the 3 different communities (transgender, MSM and female sex workers), In particular the visit to the transgender community gave me, by far, one of the greatest gift of witnessing the demonstration of "relating as human" in action. When a member of the community was asked about how they get their funds to sustain the place - paying rental, buying food and the necessities to care for the the sick members of the community - she responded by saying: "Ms. A somehow always have money in her pocket." Naturally everyone turned to look at Ms. A for a response. Smiling, Ms A (who is probably in her late 40s) responded, "Well, I go out and "sell service" once a week to ensure that we have money to provide for our members, especially those who are sick and are in need of food and medicine". There was total silence in the room while Ms A continued to smile, probably wondering what that silence meant. Probably to her, that is the most normal thing to do to a fellow human being. Interestingly, as I heard this story, I was thinkin: "gosh! there's so much I - who belong to the 'normal' society- have to learn from the generally perceived 'abnormal' community.

Very often, I find myself going to distant places seeking for the real meaning of life. However, through a few SALT visits to communities, in particular to the different so-called "abnormal, non-mainstream, socially marginalised" communities, time and again, i have discovered that in there lies the true and pure demonstration of "what it means to relate as human".

As I left Jogjakarta today, I am very thankful and I felt blessed and priviledged to have met these extraordinary people. The countless hours and years of religious studies on the meaning of love is nothing compared to the few hours I spent with the communities.

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Comment by Dewi Rahmadania on February 23, 2012 at 8:39am

Mbak Rully send warmest regard to you and Beyond friends in Singapore.,

Loves your story,tenkiuuuuu...!

#Tepuk Semangaaaaaat #

Comment by Sirinate Piyajitpirat on February 22, 2012 at 3:19pm

Thanks very much for sharing this beautiful story, Gloria. I love your ending....

Comment by Olivia Munoru on February 21, 2012 at 9:00pm

Oh Gloria - I see now that you are Singapore based. Fantastic! I will be there in April... perhaps we can meet to share our SALT experience!

Comment by Olivia Munoru on February 21, 2012 at 8:59pm

"The countless hours and years of religious studies on the meaning of love is nothing compared to the few hours I spent with the communities."...


Gloria! What a beautiful reflection! You know, you have said so articulately what I used to feel every day when I lived in Indonesia and spent time with my TG friends. Humanity is that kind of love - the kind that comes so naturally, one doesn't even see what the big deal is (like Ms. A).....

My dream was for others to see what I saw when I lived in Indonesia, so reading your blog today is like watching my dream come true. 

I have always struggled to articulate the kind of magic I feel when SALT is in the room. But you do it so beautifully. May I ask.... if you were going to invite some of your most skeptical friends or aquaintances along to a SALT visit, to experience what you experienced, how would you convince them to come along?

Nice to meet you,

Olivia

Comment by wiwin winarni on February 21, 2012 at 3:46pm
Thanks a lot Dear Gloria;
I felt also the humanity spirit and atmosphere in the silent as you and other visiting team responded to Ms.A' asnwer to the question. I learned , during the visit, from other transgender friend, at community members are lifelong connected by common need and vision. There no working contact could unite people within community. The only contract thay can bring us together at community is human relation. The relation that made us noble and respected.
Cab't wait to learn from you and communities at singapore dear sister. Salam buat semua teman!love
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on February 21, 2012 at 2:27pm

Thanks Gloria for sharing your reflection on are we human. Community conversations can be very powerful when we relate as fellow human beings both for the SALT team as well as the community. Last week I did a home visit to a village which is very prone to floods. We shared and talked. When we finished the couple from the house came to see me back to the boat which I was to take to return to the city. why did you come all the way to see me off, I asked the couple. Your being with us was a gift, we felt recognised. you and us are so different yet we felt connected answered the husband.

Comment by Milka on February 21, 2012 at 2:24pm

Thank you so much for this post. This is one more reminding for us, people, who are busy with their own lives, tha we should not judge, but be be open hearted and try to do oyr best for helping others.
Yours heartly,

Milka

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