Angklung Performance and Workshop for refugees by the Indonesian Ladies Association

25 Feb 2016

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Messiaskerk in Wassenaar opens its doors for the many refugees that are located at the vacation camp Duinrell, awaiting their residence permit and/or further transportation. On these afternoons around 80-100 male refugees come to chat, have some drinks and snacks and play games like table football or make some music in a welcoming atmosphere.

With the help of many volunteers, the church in cooperation with the COA (Central Organization for Asylum seekers) offers the refugees a possibility to distract their minds of their worries; their longing for their families and to escape the boredom in the refugee camp. It is a striking view when one sees youngsters from Syria, Irak and Eritrea enthusiastically play the old Dutch ‘sjoelbak’ (shuffleboard) game.


But the Thursday of the 25th was a special event, organized by the Indonesia Nederland Society in cooperation with the church and COA. The Indonesia Ladies Association presented an angklung concert and workshop, dedicated to the refugees. Indonesia caring for Syria in the Netherlands. It sounds just right.

The angklung is a traditional Indonesian instrument made of bamboo. It only produces one note when shaken sideways. That means that to voice a melody, the angklung has to be played in a group of people and exactly this social aspect is a distinctive characteristic of Indonesians.

Combined with their professional recital, the Indonesian ladies offered the refugees their Indonesian charm, warmth and spontaneity. That empathy was reflected in the enthusiastic participation of the refugees in the workshop. The refugees – by trial and error, encouraged by the audience and with much laughter – followed the instructions of the lady conductor and quickly learned to play the angklung.

The performers really touched the heart of all present. One could see that in the eyes of the refugees: did some of them have a kind of inward look when the entered, one could notice their vivid and cheerful eyes when they left.


To our great joy the Ambassador of Indonesia H.E. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja and his wife Ibu Rusdijana Puja as well as the mayor of Wassenaar, Mr. Hoekema, joined as well – and this afternoon all present, Dutch, Indonesian, the Middle Eastern, European, American and African people became One World.

Just like the song performed by the Ladies Anklung Orchestra: ‘We are the world, We are the children, We are the ones to make a brighter day, So let’s start giving, There’s a choice we’re making, We’re saving our lives, It’s true we’ll make a better day, Just you and me.’


In his closing speech the Indonesian Ambassador put into words what we had all been thinking when listening to the song accompanied by the Anklung Orchestra: ‘Today here, Indonesia meets Syria in Wassenaar. And whilst in essence the playing of the anklung is the creation of harmony, it also means to strive for harmony on a wider scale’. The Ambassador left us with a heartily applauded message: ‘We have to create a caring world society’.


This thought was strongly underlined by Mrs. Joty ter Kulve, who presented the refugees her positive example. She once was a refugee if war herself when she at the age of 18 arrived in the Netherlands after having to leave the former Dutch Indies. Like the present refugees she then was penniless, dressed in hand-me-down clothes from the Red Cross and had to leave her family behind. But she managed by being creative and staying positive.

Mrs. Ter Kulve also praised Indonesia on its national motto ‘Unity through Diversity’ that should be an example of how to live in this torn and divided world.

Her message to ‘take courage, because in the end peace and harmony will be stronger than war and violence’ was applauded by the audience.