Wati and the Kids of Kepa Island, Alor, East Nusa Tenggara

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A Facebook status of mine, telling the story of Wati.


If you are a friend of mine in Facebook and following my journey in #Deascovery2016, you probably will feel familiar with the name of “Wati.” I ever wrote a status about her. A 10 year old young girl that I met in Kepa island, Alor, East Nusa Tenggara.


She, her sister, Koli and some other kids always following us around. They loved to know what we are doing, since we pitch a tent in their island and it seems to be such a strange thing for them. Despite of the curiosity of local people in the island about what we were doing, those kids make me feel so happy and accepted in the area. They initiated to bring us to walk around the island together. I still remember the first time how we met. They came to our tent and teach me how to throw away pebbles to the ocean and make some jumping with it. Mostly I failed. But they were so good. Ardi, the older boy, can make pebbles jump until 3 or 4 times.

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At 6 am, they already came to the tent and ask me to follow them walking around the island.

One of the kid saw me bring smartphone and digital camera. So curiously, they wanted to know how to operate the camera. They also asked whether I have a game on my phone or not. Since I don’t like games on phone, I have none. They started to beg to play a game. I did install one game to make them happy. Later on, they hijacked my phone and camera to capture pictures and play game alternately.


Sometimes Wati, the younger one, will be tricked by Koli, her big sister. When Koli will play the games from 2-3 times, she only allowed to play one time. If that happened, Wati will scream to me… “Kakak… Koli didn’t allow me to play….” On and on again, so sometimes I need to reconciled them. Sometimes I just didn’t care and choose to enjoy the beautiful view in front of me.

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Koli, the one in front, is the bigger sister, she is the one who captured most of the photograph here.

Anyway, they weren’t bothering me at all. In the other way, they made me feel so comfortable in Kepa island. This island seemed to be a business-minded island, where people who visit here needs to stay in their resort, bungalows or homestay. Pitched a tent seem such as “a-strange-thing-to-do.” Their friendly approach to us changed my mind a bit about how commercial Kepa island is.


My precious moment with Wati was when she is sitting next to me and looking to my phone. I watched how she loves to giggle and think how beautiful she is. I told her about it and she didn’t believe it, until I asked her to open her hair and let her hair loose.

“But my hair is so curly! I am ugly, kakak!!” Wati told me shy and doubting to loosen her hair.

“Ohh NO WAY! You are so beautiful! Trust me. Let’s try to see how is it through picture,” I said to her while posing for a we-fie together.

I was so surprised with her statement. From who she does learn about what society judged as which one is ugly or not ugly, and from who, she does learn to believe that she is not pretty. In fact, she is one of the cutest girl I ever met. She is also so warm heart and lovely. Most of the time, especially when we were walking, she love to holds my fingers, as we already knew long time ago. As I am her other big sister. As an adult, we should really watch our mouth and mind, no one is ugly as all children are beautiful and divine gems. Stop labeling human about what the form of pretty is. Especially spreading that idea to children who still look this world in such a simple way.


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First time when I asked her to loosen her hair and she was still in doubt whether it is fit for her.
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Then, she was extremely happy to see her own face in the picture. Her hair is beautiful.

Then we started to make a selfie picture. First picture, she wasn’t so excited, but when I show it to here, her smile wider and she asked me to ask more picture. Then it was more, and more, and more, and more. I was smiling looking at her reaction.

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This photo of Wati, taken by Koli.
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Seem like a gangsta style.
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And how I love about this candid laughing.
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Such a perfect face.

Later on, when I checked to my camera and phone (that since morning I let the kids to use it), I found some pictures made by them. Some are nice. Some are so blurry. Some without any focus at any subject at all. But I was laughing to see how eager they captured the pictures and the result!

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Is it mean you want 3 bread, Ryan?
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Abang climbed the tree so faster!
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A beautiful capture of what we did that day.

Koli, the sister of Wati, told me, that someone from Jakarta will pay for her Junior High School later in Jakarta. I was so happy for her, but also sad, that she probably will not able to see such a beautiful ocean in front of her again everyday. But for sure, she will learn a lot in Jakarta. I hope that person really do their promise because Koli’s family was so excited of that news. I wish you the best Koli, and learn a lot, so you can develop your village and make it more beautiful.

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The beauty of Kepa, Alor, East Nusa Tenggara. Such a paradise…

I always love to be around children. Some adults are true easy to talk with. But some children can bring me to another dimension of life. To see life as how they see it. And it’s simple, pure and full of happiness.

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Me playing around with Kepa kids, including to climb the tree with them 😉

The meeting with the children of Kepa island, was one of highlight memories during my #Deascovery backpacking trip through East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

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She is a beauty. She is a gem. She is our child.

“Every children you encounter is a divine appointment.” – Wess Stafford


Dea Sihotang










  1. I am envy with those kids . How lucky them to feel free playing under the sunshine , laughing with the wind , playing with trees as the object , running barefoot , Innocence with no complaint .


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