I often write about the people living and working with me on the island and call them my «Pef Family». You may start to think that this is just a word I use because I miss my real family in Switzerland. Or because I am trying to explain the feeling of togetherness we share here. And you may start to wonder if I’m not exaggerating a little.
They say, a crisis like this one, brings out the best and the worst in people. In our case, I think it’s the best. What does it really mean to be a «family» now? Is it just an empty phrase? In our case, I don’t think it is.
It all starts with Maya’s basic philosophy: treat your employees well and they will give it all back to you. Our staff all have good salaries for local standards, have a paid health insurance and pension fund and get a very generous holiday allowance. Their accommodation is simple, but clean and well maintained and the food is ample and delicious – which, I heard, is not always the case in other resorts in the area. And even now, during the biggest crisis this resort has know in its history, Maya refuses to let people go for financial reasons and continues to pay their insurances. On top of this, she cares about our staff’s families, which is why we started our «Raja4Rice» project.
On the other hand, all employees, including management, currently have to put up with salary cuts of up to 30%, depending on their salary level. And they do that without hesitation and a lot of understanding. Because they know that being able to keep their job in times like this is not for granted. Especially the ones from modest backgrounds are very grateful for working here. But even employees with university degrees and more senior positions keep thanking Maya for continuing to employ them, as sometimes they are the only one of their family who still has a job and who currently has to support them all financially.
It’s now that we realize: we really are a «family», caring for each other, accepting personal losses so that the resort will hopefully be able to survive financially and continue to employ us all. We are all pulling in the same direction. We try to do this in normal times too, but now even more so. Some of our employees don’t have much education but they understand that they are being treated very well here and that this is something they should not give up easily.
I have worked in many different companies during my career so far. Some were great employers, some much less. But I have never had an owner or a management that cared so much about their employees as here. I felt this from the moment I set foot on the island, and it was the main reason I wanted to work here. I think our guests feel it too, this is one of the reasons why many of them keep coming back to our resort instead of trying out another resort in the area.
It’s easy to be a good team when everything is running smoothly. But it takes a crisis to show you what your team is really worth.
Do you remember life without internet? Or do you sometimes wonder what life would be like if we didn’t have internet? Especially in a situation like this with a big part of the world currently working from home? No WhatsApp to communicate with your friends and family. No news apps, news sites or newsletters of any kind. No email let alone Skype or other video conferencing tools. And no social media feed to scroll through!
The latter would probably be a blessing, even though it’s also a way for us to see how and what our friends are doing in times of lockdowns. But life without social media would spare me some incredibly stupid threads of comments to certain posts that I promised myself not to read anymore, but still cannot help noticing and reading occasionally.
Living in a remote place like ours and running a business, the internet is vital for us. Especially, since we don’t have a phone connection on the island. So, WhatsApp and email are our main means of communication with the rest of the world. Even though our satellite internet is VERY slow because we all share a limited bandwidth, we could not function without it.
How do you keep informed about what’s going on in the world? I’m guessing it’s a combination of TV, maybe radio, newspapers, newsletters, as well as news apps and social media. All of these currently give us a daily flood of different info on Covid-19 and how to deal with it. Do you still know what to believe? I get really confused with so many experts presenting conflicting theories. Did our governments do the right thing or act too late? Could we have avoided the big disaster by looking at how China handled it? Was the lockdown necessary? Can masks help protect others or are they useless, as some claim? There are millions of answers to these and many more questions somewhere on the internet. But they don’t help me understand the situation much better. It’s too much information for me to process and form my own opinion. And it keeps changing every day as there are new studies and scientific findings, which doesn’t really help…
Information travels very fast with internet, and this is a blessing and a curse. Of course, we are all free to decide how much of this info we chose to consume. I do appreciate the fact that I have a lot of sources to choose from. And sometimes, it’s really interesting to read comments and follow online discussions on certain topics, I wouldn’t want to miss that. But in situations like the one we are facing right now it can also be stressful to let yourself be influenced by too much information. Panic attacks seem to be a problem at the moment, especially for people who have be staying home for a while now. My health insurance evens sends out newsletters with tips on how to calm yourself down and advising to stop consuming too much negative news.
I’m not the type of person to think we would be better off without internet. Those times are over, there’s no going back. And I love the possibilities of communication it offers, especially with me living on Pulau Pef now. But sometimes I wish, I wasn’t overwhelmed by so much information, so I decided to choose more carefully what to read. Wish me luck!
I'm sorry, this is not an Easter post. Today's text was inspired by a person close to me that told me he couldn’t stay in touch anymore with all that was going on right now in the world. It left me very confused and I decided to write down my thoughts about one of the side effects that the current Corona crisis may have on some of us.
When scrolling through my news and social media feed, reading newsletters or or even texting with my friends and family, there is one dominant topic at the moment – the Corona crisis. It’s normal because it affects everybody’s lives so dramatically. I often sense an atmosphere of fear in everything: fear of catching the virus, fear of dying, fear of losing money, fear of losing our jobs or even our whole existence and mainly fear that the world as we know it will never be the same.
This fear is very real, no doubt about that. But I refuse to give up hope. Ever. What would life be without hope? This may be the biggest crisis humanity has gone through for a very long time, but we will come out of it. We always have! Yes, the world will change. We don’t know how, but it will change. But does it have to be for the worse? Could it not be for the better? Who says, we will all be worse off than before?
It’s always people that make the change. Every single one of us can contribute to making our world a better one. If we give up our hope in people, we will despair. We will allow the negative headlines to pull us down. And we will give up believing in a future.
Now, more than ever, it’s relationships that count in our lives. People. Love. Family. Friends. I believe, these are the only things worth fighting for. It’s challenging at the moment to stay close to our loved ones if we’re not allowed to see them in person. But it doesn’t mean that we should lose contact. Our friends and family need us more than ever and so do we. Our modern world makes it easy to stay in touch via phone, internet or even good old mail. It’s a little more challenging for us on this island, as there is no phone connection and our internet is very slow, but it’s still possible. And far as I know, we are all in regular contact with our people.
I do sometimes fear that we will not make it, that Raja4Divers may go bankrupt and that we may have to give up this beautiful little paradise. But most of the times, I believe that we will manage. We have to, for the people. So many employees and their families depend on us. They are wonderful people who put their trust in us, hoping that we will help them survive. They are like a family to us, we cannot disappoint them.
I refuse to give up hope. Because this would mean to stop believing in love and friendship. And I will not do that.
I wish you a very happy Easter. Stay in touch!
It has only been a good week that our last guests left, but I have the feeling that nature is already claiming back her territory by land and by sea.
All day long, I seem to hear more birds singing than ever. There are new voices that I think I have never noticed before. And they feel louder than before too. I’m no bird expert at all, but just yesterday, two other colleagues mentioned the louder bird singing as well. So, there must be something in it, I guess.
Our monitor lizards (Soa Soa in the local language) are normally very shy and disappear immediately in the bushes or up a palm tree as soon as someone approaches them. Now, you can see them crawling more or less nonchalantly about the entire resort, even around the usually busy restaurant and bar area. It seems as though they feel less stressed by the employees that are still walking around everywhere as we are all busy working, cleaning and renovating the resort. I guess they appreciate the quieter and more relaxed atmosphere and venture out more often.
Lately, it has been raining a little almost every night, so the bushes and trees also seem greener than ever since I came here. It is starting to look like the lush tropical jungle again that makes the island of Pef so beautiful. Before the rain, the leaves were yellow, and many trees were losing their foliage day by day. It was far too dry for a long time, but now even the weather gods seem to have had a heart for us and sent us some rain.
Whenever the sea is not too wavy, I try to go snorkelling at our house reef after work. Even after 8 months on Pulau Pef, it still amazes me how incredibly beautiful the house reef is and how many corals as well as fishes and other animals live in it. Now, it seems as if the schools of fish have grown even bigger and I think there are more juveniles than before. As there are no dive boats nor liveaboards passing by our island now, marine life is much less disturbed than during normal times. I am not sure if fish can hear noises, but they must feel the turbulence of a passing boat. And the divers – even if they are very careful (which most of them are) – are an alien element to marine life. I believe a break from this intrusion will do these animals good.
This little virus is wreaking havoc around the world, killing so many people and making even more lose their jobs or their entire existence. And there may be many more consequences we don’t even know of yet. I would by no means want to insinuate that this isn’t the worst tragedy that has happened to us for decades. But maybe, by forcing us to take a break from our fast-paced modern life, COVID-19 may at least have a positive effect on nature. It would definitely be the only one, but a wonderful side effect of these difficult times we are currently going through.
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…