In a world that seems to be getting
angrier by the day, two oil company geologists did something good
and literally walked into the hearts of hundreds of Javanese.
On a lark, AAPG member Keith Maynard and co-worker
Jon Elliott, both with ConocoPhillips, decided to walk coast-to-coast
across Java after getting their co-workers and friends to back them
with donations to aid the children of Indonesia.
"The idea was to come up with a project or stunt
that would be significant enough to attract people's imagination
and attention — and when their defenses were down get them to pledge
lots of money to children's based charity projects across Indonesia,"
said Maynard, a geophysical advisor with ConocoPhillips Indonesia.
The geologists figured that while oil companies spend
billions of dollars in aid to countries all over the world bringing
everything from education, medical care and clean drinking water
to people in need, sometimes it's the smaller, more personal outreach
that profoundly touches the local population.
"After living in Burma and Indonesia and traveling
the world pursuing my career in the oil business, I have always
been troubled by the contrast between local poverty and expatriate
wealth," Maynard said. "Our lives in Indonesia are sheltered and
it is easy to live here and not see the extreme poverty and difficulties
of the local people.
"So, about a year ago I thought it would be good
to try and do something beyond the 'normal' levels of charity donations
we typically undertake."
After traveling coast to coast in Java for family
holidays, Maynard realized a person could walk across Java. The
idea was born — and then he enlisted the help of colleague Jon
Elliott, a consultant operations geologist based in Perth, Australia,
for ConocoPhillips Indonesia.
Both men said this walk was a more personal effort
to help the local population, particularly children. Elliott has
sponsored students and funded cleft palate operations for children
during his time in Indonesia. Maynard made similar contributions
"All you have to do is look at the picture of a little
girl who has had the cleft palate operation and realize for just
a few hundred dollars you can change the life of a child," Elliott
said. "That's what motivated us."
The pair initially planned to just e-mail friends
and colleagues to sponsor their walk, but the response was phenomenal
and the project quickly grew into something much bigger. Maynard
and Elliott raised over $40,000 — primarily from individuals and
companies from the oil business.
"Many saw this as an opportunity to make a donation
and actually see where that money goes," Maynard said. "We were
able to assure people that 100 percent of the money would go to
specific causes — for instance, the doctor who would perform cleft
"We actually see the children who are helped, and
contributors get something back for their aid," he added. "Before
and after pictures of children who have received cleft palate operations
are provided and those who donate to sponsor students get three
progress reports annually."
In addition to individuals, several companies sponsored
the project. ConocoPhillips topped the list of corporate contributors.
The distribution of funds was coordinated by a volunteer
charitable organization, which identified the most urgent needs.
The charities that will receive funds cover a broad spectrum, but
all will impact children.
- A deep water well will be dug at Batu Ceper,
Tangerang, to provide clean water. Toilets, showers and laundry
facilities for 500 hundred people in West Jakarta also will be
constructed. This project will cost $8,500 to $9,000 (US).
- Harelip and cleft palate operations will
be funded through local doctors at a cost of just $330 (US) for
- Tuberculosis cures, which provide six months
of medication for one child at a cost of $30 (US).
- Yayasan Balita Sehat clinic in South Jakarta
to combat malnutrition through health, education and hygiene.
The funds will provide essential supplies such as milk, de-worming
syrup and vitamins as well as a teacher's salary.
- East Bali Project: Moringa Tree Project.
This program offers sustainable organic farming for the poverty-stricken
people of the infertile mountain slopes of East Bali at a cost
of $3,300 (US).
- Student sponsorship for high school students
at a cost of about $72 (US) per year per student.
- A three-month supply of milk for 30 children
in a nutrition program in the extremely poor area of Kamal Muara.
The cost is $111 (US).
Ready, Fire, Aim
Of course, a great deal of planning must go into a
200-kilometer walk for charity, right?
Not for these guys.
"We did next to no planning for this trip — we are
two very irresponsible individuals," Elliott laughed.
The two did have the foresight to plan for guides
the last four days of the trip when they would be traversing miles
of rain forest — but otherwise they walked by the seat of their
pants, with no support vehicles or other help.
"One of ConocoPhillip's contractors was kind enough
to donate our first night's lodging, and we found out the day we
left that we had secured our second night's accommodations," Elliott
said. "Beyond that, we weren't sure where we would be staying along
The trip was so "free spirited" that the pair picked
up a third participant who was in it just for the adventure.
"Chris Pazera, my old mate from the Adelaide Hills
area, called just a couple of weeks before we were to start the
walk to let me know he would be in Java on holiday that same week,"
Elliott said. "When I told him I wouldn't be around because we were
doing this walk, he wanted to know if he could come along. It must
have been a good experience, because a couple of weeks after we
got back he e-mailed me to ask what we were doing next year."
Elliott said as expatriates living in Jakarta there
is little opportunity to see the natural beauty of Java.
"Indeed, at the ConocoPhillips office it is hard
to focus on anything other than the 16 lanes of smoke-belching traffic
on Jalan Gatot Subroto and the appalling smog that hangs over the
city on all but a few mornings of the wet season," he said. "While
the walk was primarily a publicity stunt to raise money, Keith and
I were both aware that there might just be some beautiful country
out there only a short distance from our office. Rumors that tigers
still survive in the Halimun National Park suggested that there
was some pristine rain forest remaining in central Java.
"We planned the trek to take in as much of this country
as logistically possible," he added. "The walk ended up covering
220-kilometers, as we made no attempt to take any short route between
the north and south coasts.
"In fact, we took a highly torturous route to negotiate
the most beautiful part of the quickly disappearing rain forest."
Day By Day
Java is a mountainous island 800 kilometers long and
an average of 100 kilometers wide. While it is considerably smaller
than many of the other Indonesian Islands such as West Papua, Kalimantan,
Sulawesi and Sumatra, Java is home to over half of Indonesia's population
of over 200 million. The reason for this staggering population density
is the fertility of the new volcanic soils on the island.
Unfortunately much of the great rain forests that
once covered the island have been destroyed to provide farmland
for the people.
"After extensive training in which I did two, four-kilometer
walks around the streets of south Jakarta — on the assumption that
the first four kilometers would likely be the worst and the other
196 would be no problem — and Jon managed a pub crawl on two successive
Fridays in a very shady part of the city, the coast-to-coast walk
finally got under way Sunday, September 29," said Maynard.
The threesome never left Jakarta the first day —
they spent the night at the staff house of an oilfield services
company near the Jakarta Zoo. However, on the second day the walkers
left the polluted streets of Jakarta behind them and were greeted
by smiles and encouragement along the quiet back lanes.
Both Maynard and Elliott said the trip will always
be a highlight of their lives.
the highlight of the trip for me was walking north to south across
Java for eight days and never coming across anyone who wasn't pleased
to see us and willing to help," Maynard said. "Indonesia has the
largest Muslim population of any country in the world and there
was never a hint of tension between their culture and us. The Indonesian
people have left an indelible impression on me."
He also said the opportunity to experience the beautiful
countryside was wonderful.
"There was a real trust on both sides everywhere
we went," he said. "None of these people knew we were coming and
these three sweaty, dirty westerners were welcomed everywhere —
even as the guests of honor at a wedding. "
Both men count the experience an enormous success.
"What started as an irrational idea when we were
both a bit tipsy is certain to be one of the highlights of my life
— it was a tremendous experience," Elliott said. "And the icing
on the cake is that we were able to demonstrate that one person
can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
"How can you not step up and help when it takes so
little to do so much in a country such as this?"