Supporting a local school



On my last trip to Japara in Central Java, Indonesia, I had the great privilege of visiting  a local elementary school and meeting all the wonderful children and staff there. Months earlier, I asked my teak supplier, with whom I have done business for many years, what I can do to help the local community and more specifically the great people he had working at his facility. I had gotten to know many of his employees and their families over the years and have always appreciated their dedication and work ethic. I wanted to give back in some way. His immediate response was – education! He told me the best way the help the local community was to encourage education by supporting the local schools. Most children in the area do have access to public schools but the schools are not well funded. When I visited I was immediately greeted by all the children and staff with great warmth and hospitality. Although they did not have much in the way of supplies or services (no lights were on at the school), the children were very happy and appreciative of the opportunity. Coming from the U.S. it was very refreshing to see children excited about attending school!  I also noticed that the majority of children were girls, an encouraging sign in this Muslim nation of 240 million people, the largest Muslim nation in the world. They understood that the best way to lift a population out of poverty was to educate its girls.

After we left, I asked my supplier to set up a bank account for the school and told him that I would be periodically wiring money for school supplies throughout the year.  I committed to sending 1% of our net profits to this fund. This means that a portion of every purchase that a customer makes goes to support this school.

I look forward to visiting the school again in December and seeing first-hand the difference that the contributions of our customers is making.

Thank you for your support!

Mike & Julie


One of my greatest joys in this business is to travel to Indonesia. I usually go for a couple of weeks each year in December, our slowest time. The most direct way is to fly into Bali…OK, if I must :-). Since it is halfway around the world and I’m spending 22 hours on a plane, it doesn’t make sense to miss the sites and experiences of Indonesia while I’m conducting business, right? Having two small children, it’s not practical for my wife to join me; so I’m usually solo on these trips. I’ve learned to really enjoy this. I can do exactly what I want, when I want. Since I travel off-season and only make one hotel reservation – the night I arrive – if not enjoying a particular place, I pick up and leave. I carry only a backpack, and just grab a scooter or taxi to go anywhere my guide book or fellow travelers recommend. This has allowed me to explore the islands of Bali, Java, and Lombok extensively.

This past year I chose to spend some time on Lombok. It’s a 20 min flight or a three to eight hour boat ride (depending on how much money you want to spend and if you mind riding with chickens and goats) from Bali. Lombok is like Bali 30 years ago; very green, laid back, and delightfully uncrowded. After dropping my bags at an inexpensive hotel ($40 for a bungalow on the beach) I rented a brand new scooter for $5 and was off. Just driving along palm tree lined streets from village to village is liberating. I had no agenda and didn’t even bring my watch. I stopped for lunch and snacks at local shops and enjoyed the day. I was out for hours until I returned to my bungalow with a cold Bintang to watch the sunset. Not a bad way to start a business trip…

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