Music and dance mark schoolchildren’s visit to UNIFIL frigate
The clear sky, the sunshine and the gentle breeze indicated that spring was arriving to the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The ebb and flow of the gentle sea waves in the country’s commercial hub, the Beirut Port, made the ambiance even more soothing. An Indonesian naval ship – docked in the port and operating under UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force (MTF) – was going to play host to unlikely guests.
Some 60 young schoolchildren, accompanied by eight of their teachers, boarded the ship, while UNIFIL’s Indonesian officers – dressed as Hindu Gods and Javanese mythological characters such as Hanuman, Bagong and Petruk – welcomed the guests.
The young tourists had a very simple mission: to learn about the operations of the ship and the peacekeeping work UNIFIL does to assist in securing the Lebanese territorial waters. The Indonesian cuisine and cultural performances were a bonus.
Yasmin Zaraket, a Grade 8 student at the American Community School (ACS) in Beirut, was excited about going around such a high-tech ship for the first time in her life. Another student, Emanuele Areola, a Filipino national, was excited about the cultural performances.
After the visit, Sara Siklawi from Deir Kanoun Ras Al Ain School in south Lebanon said the school tour was “very nice.” Commenting on the event organized by UNIFIL’s Civil Affairs Office in collaboration with the crew of the UN Mission’s Indonesian warship KRI Bung Tomo, she enthused, “We learned many new things, and it was like an adventure.”
An eighth grader at ACS, Lauran Armstrong, said she saw “control rooms, the captain quarters and just different things that go on in the ship; like how and why they take place.”
The Captain of the ship, Heri Triwibowo, said the main objective of the visit was to make the schoolchildren aware about the work UNIFIL does in the Lebanese waters.
A teacher from Deir Kanoun Ras Al Ain School, Wael Siklawi, said the young students saw first-hand how the naval ship works, learned from its captain and crew about their specific roles in the vessel, and learned also about how UNIFIL MTF assists the Lebanese Navy.
“I found that the children had positive response, and they are very happy,” said Mr. Siklawi. “And it was a nice weather too,” he added with a smile.
Established in October 2006, UNIFIL MTF currently has about 900 personnel and seven ships: two from Bangladesh and one each from Brazil, Germany, Greece, Indonesia and Turkey. The UN peacekeeping’s first and only maritime operation, the MTF works with the Lebanese Navy in creating a safer maritime environment in the Lebanese territorial waters.
UNIFIL’s Civil Affairs Officer Habib Aziz said the visit was one of several organized by his office in order to make the Lebanese population aware of the various aspects of the important work carried out by UNIFIL in support of the Lebanese people and the authorities.
During the 24 February visit to the 95-metre long vessel, UNIFIL’s Indonesian naval personnel had also planned a complete cultural show in order to entertain the young guests. Using traditional musical instruments (Kentongan, Anklung, Gendang and Gong) and with indigenous Indonesian dance performances (Balinese, Patung, Jaranan and Semar), the naval officers demonstrated their artistic talents – to the cheers of the young crowd.
One of the students, eighth-grader Gaëlle Óndrusek even rose from her seat and grabbed the microphone to sing “Made in Heaven…”. She was then joined by Indonesian peacekeepers.
“I did not know how the ship would be, I have never been in a naval ship and it looks rather small from outside; but it is really big, it has so many rooms; it’s really interesting,” said Ms. Óndrusek, before departing with her classmates and teachers.
Article: Tilak Pokharel
Camera: Mohamad Hamze
Editor: Suzane Badereddine, Mohamad Hamze
Stills: Pascual Goriz