IDEP Foundation

Classroom Activities Can Be Created: Teachers’ Initiatives Amid the Eruption of Mount Lewotobi Laki-laki

One of the parents of the students asked, “Will there be school on Monday or not?”

Sesilia Witin was puzzled by such a question. “Let’s check the weather in the morning first,” she replied.

The woman, familiarly called Meti, was a teacher in one of the villages in the Wulanggitang District, East Flores. Since 2009, this was the first time the dynamics of teaching and learning had changed somewhat. Not only were the students evacuated, but she, along with her husband and mother, went west, towards another district. The aim was to stay away from the eruption-affected area. At that time, her mother wasn’t feeling well, so their decision to stay in the evacuation area seemed to be the best choice.

Meti and her family tried to breathe in more comfortable air, free from volcanic ash. Three days later, they returned to Wulanggitang to participate in the Tuba Ile traditional ritual. This sacred ritual served as an expression of apology for all the mistakes made to Mount Lewotobi Laki-laki, which was believed to be angry. The indigenous community of the local village considered Ile Bele (the big mountain), Ile Wae (the female mountain), and Ile Lake (the male mountain) as ancestors who provided them with a place to live and nurture life until now.

The eruption of Mount Lewotobi Laki-laki, located in East Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, occurred on December 23, 2023. On that day, the mountain’s activity level was set at Level II (Alert), and it quickly rose to Level III (Watch) on January 1, 2024. Not only affecting the daily activities of the community, but the teaching and learning activities in schools, which were supposed to start on January 4, 2024, also had to be halted. This situation persisted until mid-February.

Having served as a teacher in one of the Kindergartens (TK) for 15 years, the eruption of Mount Lewotobi yesterday made her worried about the future of the children in her village.

“How can children continue to learn in a disaster situation?” Meti wondered.

Sesilia Witin, is currently playing and learning together with children in psychosocial support activities

She then took the initiative to utilize a WhatsApp Group consisting of the parents of her students. Her goal was to monitor and ensure that her students could still receive learning materials. Day by day passed, and Meti felt something was missing. She said she wasn’t satisfied just staying at home.

This feeling prompted her to search for the whereabouts of the school children in various evacuation locations. Longing could not be restrained. So was the feeling of a teacher who wanted to meet her students.

Similar feelings were experienced by several other teachers who were part of the Teacher Work Group (KKG), a professional activity group for teachers within one cluster/district. Collectively, they provided assistance and shared teaching activities in one of the kindergartens used as a gathering place for several school-aged children affected by the eruption.

At that time, the status of Mount Lewotobi Laki-laki had dropped to Alert Level III, rose again to Alert Level IV, before dropping again to Level III for the following month and until now. But this does not mean that the eruption disaster can be considered over. If floods come, the right and left sides of the school in one of the kindergartens at the foot of the mountain become paths for cold lava floods when the rain is very heavy.

In one of the villages around the foot of the mountain, floods from Mount Lewotobi flowed onto the footpaths, even entering the yards of residents’ homes. The height reached about 30 centimeters. This incident was also experienced by residents in neighboring villages. Thick mud mixed with gravel easily overflowed from residents’ gardens to residential areas. Spreading again to the main road. Therefore, these two villages are still included in the disaster-prone areas (KRB). Located about less than 5 kilometers from Mount Lewotobi, the potential danger of eruptions and cold lava floods is still significant. The safety of the local residents still needs to be the main concern.



To support the recovery from the eruption of Mount Lewotobi, several cross-regional organizations collaborated to distribute basic needs aid and psychosocial support activities for 474 families from two affected villages. The collaborative action held for a week in early February 2024 aimed to ensure the fulfillment of the basic needs of the affected residents who had just been returned by the government after more than a month of occupying evacuation posts since the beginning of the eruption.

The organizations involved included the IDEP Foundation from Bali, Yayasan Pengkajian dan Pengembangan Sosial (YPPS) from East Flores, and Circle of Imagine Society (CIS) Timor from Kupang. hey were supported by Save the Children Indonesia, Octa, and Give2Asia.

The process of distributing Family Bucket Packages to communities affected by the eruption

In addition to targeting families in general, children received special attention in this cross-organizational collaborative action. When family representatives received Family Bucket Packages, children were involved in a number of psychosocial support activities. In these activities, children from Learning Groups and Kindergartens in the two aforementioned villages were invited to play while learning about Clean and Healthy Living Behaviors (PHBS). The goal was to encourage children to increase awareness of cleanliness and health in their own environments and themselves.


Astini, a teacher at a kindergarten whose location was also affected by the eruption, had a similar experience to Meti. Teaching activities didn’t know when they could be resumed. However, she remained optimistic about cleaning up the classrooms that were usually used and wanted to use them again with her students. This series of psychosocial support activities also became a bridge of longing for teachers and students who, for more than a month, had not started teaching activities in classrooms.

“Mom, can you carry me for a moment,”  requested one of the children to Rufina Sape, one of the teachers who accompanied them in the activities.

Kindergarten students in one of the eruption-affected villages are watching educational disaster videos together

On February 23, 2024, almost two weeks after the psychosocial support activities in the two eruption-affected villages, this cross-organizational collaboration visited one of the kindergartens there. The aim was to ensure that the classrooms that had been tried to restart teaching activities were safe and comfortable for the children’s learning space. This collaboration also sought to increase interest in learning by providing supporting learning facilities such as an LCD projector to enhance learning experiences through more attractive audio-visuals.

Although community activities had begun to return to normal, the sense of anxiety still lingered until now. The mountain’s activity level still remained at Level III. Being aware of the dangerous situation and living in disaster-prone areas is crucial, especially if started early.

“My hope is that the situation in our village returns to calmness, the mountain doesn’t get angry again, doesn’t erupt again. So that teaching and learning activities can proceed as usual,” concluded Meti at the end of the conversation.

Article & Photo: Nicolaus Sulistyo © IDEP Foundation