After I left Sulawesi in 2007 and returned to the US, my bond with a little village of Poopoh (coconut) not butt) was now a part of my life. For the 260 families, a tiny simple school was the only chance for kids to enter into a chance of education and out of poverty. It bothered me for years that there was no working sanitation available, and I promised I would come back and build that most needed facility: a toilet for the school in PooPoh, Indonesia. The reef out front of this village is one of the world’s most spectacular scuba dive destinations!

October is that month in my life that brings me to the cusp of melancholy. I find myself cautiously tapping through the days, paying great attention to not become involved with conflicts, voiding quarrels and debacles; such interferences tends to afflict me more during the fall period. The harvest time of the year, when mind and body are required to concentrate on canning, preserving, and storing fuel for the winter. Our spirits work the same ways.

Psychologically this is a time to clear postponed dilemmas, solve delayed burdens, and free the mind for a peaceful hibernating ahead. As a gregarious character surrounded by souls in need of help – I tend to have a heap of unsolved battles and a mind full of shackled ideas. I’m not a procrastinator; easy reject taking on more duties than I can process. The Toilet for the school concept at this point was ten years in “storage.”

That postponed project bounced back last October and became my New Years Resolution – I’d be quick to proclaim a January 1st deadline to be silly…

Another project on my back-burner is the TCM cooking show, a concept I long designed and pitched to networks; without success. Maybe, if I pay forward, building this toilet between the North Sulawesi Jungle and Andaman sea – this good intention will be rewarded with a deed benefiting me?

I managed throughout the year to keep my humble home to myself. Right now, a friend is a houseguest until he gets back on his feet. Young kids take life for granted; some are lazy slackers, unmotivated peeps with an overly inflated attitude, and the courtesy of pigeons clinging to a gutter… The world owes you nothing – but kindness is always rewarded. The ALC (AIDS lifecycle fundraiser from San Francisco to Los Angeles) bike ride to raise money for the CA and SF AIDS foundation is lurking. Conditional training must start soon. Yup, my calendar looks full.

My stepmom’s phone calls are odd – after her second husband died this year, she called a few times without having anything to share: I don’t think she is sad about her partner passing but angered for being left alone. Without having someone to care for, her space and activities are silent; as much as they quarreled, now she is bored. Her renters in her second house clearly take advantage of this situation. I don’t get involved. My perspectives would only cause a ruckus!

My TCM schoolbook is ready for printing, and I experience writer-fears: What if I want to change something after I sign off the proof-of-print? Daily I change something in the manuscript,  driving the graphic designer crazy. As it is late summer – I need to let go and accept that the current version is good and clear. I will never be satisfied: That’s what editions are for! All I need now is a sponsor to publish the darn thing…

After I paid for a new roof over my God children’s house in PooPoh and bought a motorbike for their dad. Next, the most needed, first toilet for the school in PooPoh where 86 children have no access to a latrine! During the late summer monsoon, teachers, kids, and visitors go to the beachfront to do their business… It’s simply too simple!

I’m dreaming of combining it with a dive vacation. Time spent for me. I will not bring my computer,  not watch CNN and restrain myself from wondering if anyone out there can cope without me. I will let the last week of October slip past me, quietly, undisturbed, and sheepishly cheat myself a week of living on the corner of a speck on this globe, without a toilet…

toilet for the school in Poopoh, sulawesi
School kids are helping to build the septic tank for the new school toilet… Completed in 2016

If I set up a fundraiser page, maybe we can build an extra schoolroom…?

Chef Raphael


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