The story Andreas Bali (60) tells me a the voting station contains a metaphor for his sense of democratic participation: you have to struggle and engage to make what are often painful social changes, but the benefits, when they do come, are vastly worth the burdens.
At about five o'clock in the morning, on April 14, Bali or Bapa Ande as he is nicknamed puts on his uniform. It is the same green uniform all the troops wear. He carries with him his security tool and his ID. The yellow clothe on his left arm indicates he is the guard for voting station number 7, in the centre of the village. This election might have been a tired story for Bapa Ande. But old age has not diminished either his optimism or appetite for hard work. By six am, the sixty year old is on his way to his new job.
His first profession is farming. On the normal day, Bapa Ande works in his garden. He tends the corn and vegetables, he collects stone and sand to sell to contractors in the village. He works also as a craftsman. If a local resident needs something they will go to him. They ask Bapa Ande to build the cages for the hog, repair a piece of furniture in the house, mend the roof, the list is endless. On his own 10 x 25 meter field is the house Baba Ande built, where he lives with his wife, Mesa Ujan and their only daughter, Nesti.
Bapa Ande does all kind of jobs just to fulfill the basic needs of his family. The certificate he earned at the Sekolah Rakyat (Democracy School), he says was already an amazing accomplishment for him. And now being Linmas he feels an equal honor - although at times, he acknowledges, a dangerous one. At the voting station, Bapa Ande told me a story about the time he was attacked by young drunk in Waikomo. He was badly beaten up after asking a group of youths to be quiet and stop disturbing people who were praying nearby in the Church of St.Antonius Padua. The story contains a metaphor for his sense of civic participation and the functioning of democracy: you have to struggle and engage in order make often painful social changes, but the benefits, when they do come, are worth the burdens.
This election has been a dream for Bapa Ande and his vision of public service. Being employed as a security guard in the voting station is a promotion for him. He will have to stand by for more than 24 hours until the counting process in the voting station winds up. Although this happens at around 1.pm, Bapa Ande's job is far from over. He eventually stays in the voting station until 5.am the next morning. The last thing he does is motorbike with the chief of the voting station the 10 bumpy kilometers to the headquarter of the district electoral committee (PPK), to deliver the ballot papers.
Red eyed and very tired Bapa Ande gets home about 9.am. He is looking forward to at least two days rest after his election exploits. He hopes the legislature the people elected last night will be able to change Waikomo. "The most important things are clean water, continuous electricity, and asphalt road as we can see the holes in the street," he says, before finally turning in for bed.
For now, Bapa Ande has done more than his part to make the election in the village fair and secure. Paid a Rp.200 thousands (US$ 20), he thanks God for the money. When he arrived home he gave it to his wife. It will pay the household costs for the next weeks. A man like Bapa Ande knows the meaning of hard work. Will the new legislatures be men and women like him? We can only wait - and hope for that. (Alexander Taum, Lembata)