- Komen Yuk!
What is there beyond the kindness and persistence of Moana?
If people ask me what my favourite movie genre is, my answer will be animated movies. Yes, I am an animation lover, especially Walt Disney movies, ever since I was a kid. Even after becoming a dentist, I still love them and thank God, it also helps me to keep a conversation going with my young patients. I believe almost every child loves animated movies, including musicals, because they are always entertaining. The songs are mostly enjoyable and easy to sing. The characters are cute and adorable. The messages teaches children to be good. However now, as I have grown older, I found that they have deeper messages.
The last movie created by Disney was Moana. It was released in Indonesia on November 25th, 2016. A lot of kids watched it, especially girls, because Moana was the new Disney princess. In this movie she was the daughter of Motunui’s Tribe Chief and became the first Polynesian princess. Different to the line of girly-classy-cute Disney princess’ like Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, and Elsa, Moana shows up as a brave princess, more like Pocahontas, Mulan, and Merida. The story line is exciting and like other Disney princess movies, it teaches children to be brave and kind, to be who you really are and to not easily give up in any circumstances. But there is another message beyond that.
If you have not already watched the movie, I am sorry for the upcoming spoilers. In the beginning of the movie, Moana’s grandma tells a story about Te Fiti, the goddess with the power to create life. Desirable to many, one day a demigod called Maui succeeded in stealing the gem heart of Te Fiti. But Te Ka, a devil, wanted the heart for herself and put Maui down. Moana was then sent by the ocean spirits to find Maui and together, they must restore the heart of Te Fiti for the good of the Earth. In the end, she finds that Te Ka is Te Fiti without her heart.
That is the summary of the story. Now what is there beyond the kindness and persistence of Moana?
The deeper message from the movie was about our Earth.
First, lots of people want to steal Te Fiti’s heart. It illustrates that humans are greedy and selfish, always wants more and more wealth, such as building more properties and malls without thinking about flooding that will happen due to lack of water absorption area. Other examples include deforestation, forest burning, the use of emissions that has caused global warming, garbage pollution, etc.
Indonesia has a lot of forests but the fact is that the rate of deforestation and forest burning is very high. When volunteering as a dentist for Yayasan Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) in Sukadana Village, near Gunung Palung National Park, West Borneo, I've come to understand that there was a lot of deforestation there. However, I also understood that sometimes villagers don’t have a choice. They need to feed their families, so what else can they do except deforestation? They have unsuitable skills for other occupations, thus seeing forests as a rich resource. The trees can be sold for wood generating income for the family. In another case in 2014, I visited Tanjung Puting National Park, where orangutans and other animals still live in nature. I realized that the forest is a habitat for lots of creatures, not only orangutans. In the event of deforestation, can you imagine if your house was burned or destroyed?
Secondly, Moana’s grandmother said that if no one puts Te Fiti’s heart back as soon as possible, island by island could be destroyed. In the movie you will see the villagers tell Moana’s Dad that coconuts were suddenly turning black and there were no more fish in the ocean. Thirdly, as I found out that Te Ka is actually Te Fiti without the heart, I realized that it really illustrates the anger of our Earth. It meant that the Earth is just like humans, it can be good or bad reacting to what is applied upon it. Earth can create life, just like Te Fiti, if we treat it right. However, once we destroy it, Earth will be “angry” and in the end it will return the favour to the human race.
Yes, a lot of similar things happen nowadays. Climate change has caused abnormal harvest. Sometimes dry season seems like forever and sometimes rain falls down too much causing widespread flooding. Sometimes fishermen cannot find fish because waves are becoming unpredictable. The smoke from forest burning causes illness and deforestation destroys trees that restore the oxygen for humans like what usually happened in Riau, Pontianak, or Palangkaraya. The children cannot go to school because of the smoke and lots of them suffered from respiratory track infection.
But not everybody is a demigod, stealing Te Fiti's heart. Some are actually restoring it, putting much effort into environmental issues. One of them is ASRI, an NGO that has unique concept in combining health and environment aspects.With the tagline “Saving Rain Forest With A Stethoscope” ASRI will help the villagers by providing proper and affordable health services and in exchange for an improving report card on decreasing illegal-logging activities. Every 6 months the ASRI team conducted a survey to monitor the illegal logging. The more they reduce illegal logging, the less they had to pay for health treatment.
As a volunteer dentist, I helped people treat the toothache and educate them about oral health, giving education about brushing teeth to the children by reading them stories. If the villagers don’t have enough money to pay the treatment they could pay with cow feces, egg shell, or another ingredients to make fertilizer, by helping ASRI team to clean the clinic, or by giving plant seeds. ASRI also enables villagers with other skills like farming (they have their own organic garden) and engage them to be involved in ASRI team in the efforts of taking care of the forest, and helping them understand the purpose of the forest.
Coming back in 2017, I saw a change. The village is growing but consequently I saw more vehicles which, I’m pretty sure, made changed the air quality; it's starting to get polluted. But some areas, fortunately, remain intact. During hiking in Lubuk Baji, we reach the top called Batu Bulan. The view was wonderful, we saw Sukadana Village from the top. The forest ecosystem was still good. On the way to the top, we played in waterfall with a little wooden house if you want to spend a night there. I also had the chance to visit one of the deforestation area, which involved submerging in order to cross the river. Oh, how hard life is the middle of the forest! After we reach the deforestation area, we were so glad to know that the forest is in the process of becoming green again.
It's nice to know that people are restoring Te Fiti's heart together. I know there are lots of NGO out there who are also focused on the environment. I hope that there are more people –especially young generations– that will be involved in these activities. If volunteering in an NGO is too much, one can try small steps, such as reducing energy and plastic use, reducing garbage, planting trees, or at least pay some attention to what is happening with our environment.
Thank you Moana for the beautiful message. Let’s save the Earth!
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