I absolutely love eating food. Any kind of food. Most of the time when I’m eating I’m already thinking about my next meal. And on most days my last thought before I fall asleep is what I should eat for breakfast tomorrow. But what I love even more than eating food is eating food in the company of great people.

Before the 5th of August we all lived together as one big family on the premises of Villa Nangka. Because the earthquake destroyed our house, the head office of our beloved Gili Shark Conservation Project and our villa’s we needed to find new headquarters for our research team, new accommodation for the volunteers and a new house for my Sunshine and me. We all ended up on different sides of the island and we went from seeing each other every day to seeing each other hardly at all.

I miss having my family around

I miss having the research team around, I miss their smiles, I miss their energy, I miss their stories, and I miss living together as one family. Missing them is a lonely journey, one that finds me constantly looking back to those sweet moments, those moments that made us into what we are.

To make sure we stay connected with each other, I started organizing family diners. Once every 10 days I cook for everyone and we eat all together in Villa Nangka. I’m definitely not a chef and I have to admit cooking for 20 people in an improvised kitchen is quite a challenge but I do it with pleasure. I cherish the moments where we’re all at the table. Together again as one family. Exchanging stories, asking each other for advice, making jokes, singing songs and laughing, a lot of laughing.

A very special birthday 

Last week it was Herman his birthday, we all pretended that we forgot and didn’t say anything all day. But as soon as everyone finished their diner, I sneaked out to get Herman his birthday cake. I light the candles and signal to Puja that he can start playing the guitar.

I walk slowly towards Herman in the hope the wind doesn’t blow out the candles. And in this magical moment my eyes find his eyes and I can see a few tears running down his cheeks. He looks confused, surprised, happy, overwhelmed and every emotion in between. For a moment it’s just him and me standing in front of each other while everyone in the background starts singing the Indonesian version of happy birthday. “No one ever bought me a birthday cake sayang” he says. With tears in my eyes I say “You can make a wish”. He closes his eyes, is silent for a few seconds and blows out the candles.

I’m not surprised by his confession he never had a cake before. All my boys told me when they got their first cake for their birthday they never had a real birthday cake before. But it still moves me every time when I see their emotions when blowing out the candles. Again a big big thank you to everyone who donated to our campaign. Because of you we can still have family dinners and Herman got his first birthday cake in his life when he became 24.

Love Rose

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