After almost two months of insecurity, misery, and tragedy caused by the recent peak in the Covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia, it seems that the country is entering calmer waters. Unfortunately, not everywhere in Indonesia, since we see solid regional differences. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel, at least in several regions and cities, including Jakarta, classified as COVID-19 Green Zone last Monday.
Our Embassy staff who got stuck in the Netherlands (not allowed by HQ to return after summer holidays until the Covid-situation would improve) are now back in Jakarta or on their way back home. We see a careful, gradual return to post-emergency life, at the same time acknowledging that Covid-19 will not disappear soon.
While many among us are still mourning the loss or their beloved ones or struggling with the aftermath of the disease, I am also encouraged by the strength of those who don’t want to sit down and throw in the towel. I heard someone saying: “Malu makan perut lapar, malu berkayuh perahu tak laju” (if you don’t eat, you’ll get hungry, if you’re shy to row, the boat won’t go fast). Inspired by this mentality of courage and optimism, the Embassy has continued working, mostly from home, making the best of it.
Our consular section is working day and night to accommodate a tremendous amount of visa applications by Indonesian students who are going to study in the Netherlands, the e-rasmus huis is more active than ever, and we see continued interest by Dutch companies and organizations which want to visit Indonesia or who are eager to link virtually. In October, the Embassy and Nuffic/NESO, together with many Indonesian organizations, will organize the Week of Indonesian Netherlands Education and Research (WINNER). And at the end of the year Indonesia will take over the G20 Presidency from Italy, which will bring many delegations and missions to Indonesia.
On 15 August, we commemorated the end of WWII with wreath laying’s in Jakarta and Surabaya, and on 17 August, I (virtually) attended the national commemoration of 76 years of independence. Last week, a batch of 450.000 vaccines from the Netherlands arrived in Indonesia. This delivery is part of 3 million vaccines that the Netherlands has committed to donate to Indonesia.
For now, I hope the near future will bring us a world where our children can go back to school, where we can meet our colleagues at work, where we can visit our relatives and friends again, and see and hug each other.
Stay safe, stay healthy!