Irfan Nugroho
It was Thursday, December 8th, 2011 when I was appointed to be a liaison officer for the Indonesian athletic athletes who were going to take part in the Sixth ASEAN Para Games (APG) 2011.

Officially, all the LOs of the APG 2011 would start working on December 12th, 2011.

However, on December 11th, the head of liaison officer ordered all the LOs to standby since 11 am for an info saying that delegates and athletes from certain countries would come to the athlete village at the Embarkasi Haji Donohudan (Pilgrim Dormitory Donohudan).

Guess what?! The above mentioned were the delegates and athletes from Indonesia!

Oh God..! I thought I would start working for the APG 2011 on December 12th hence I could spare some times with my dearest one before leaving her for about 10 days ahead.

I had no choice, and that was the reality. It’s just like what the head of liaison officer said, “Everything in the APG 2011 is ‘fluctuant’.”

It was said on schedule that the Indonesian contingents would be at the athlete village at around 3 PM, thus I spent a few minutes meeting her and treating her ice cream as a small ‘farewell’ party.

Precisely at 2:30 PM, I arrived at the athlete village and found that the entrance gate to the athlete village was guarded by a number of police officers holding AK-47.

Front Yard of Pilgrim Dormitory Donohudan, Boyolali,Central Java – Indonesia
Front Yard of Pilgrim Dormitory Donohudan, Boyolali,Central Java – Indonesia

Stuck! I could not go inside because of less coordination between my boss and the management of the athlete village. What a fortunate, 30 minutes waiting outside under a shinny hot sunshine, I was allowed to get in.

That was my first time to go to Embarkasi Haji Donohudan. In 2001, my parents were already there before leaving Indonesia to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. Indeed, this area has its main function as Pilgrim Dormitory; but for the sake of APG 2011, this site was used as the athlete village.

It is wide and…. hot! Indeed, this area was totally hot at that time. Trees are rare, and the climate is high because it is situated on the slope of Mount Merapi – the most active volcano on earth.

Front Yard of Pilgrim Dormitory Donohudan, Boyolali,Central Java – Indonesia

Leading to a building called “Mekkah” (Mecca), I found there were hundreds of people unloaded luggage from cars and busses. Was I late?! What a lucky, I didn’t come late because the Indonesian athletic contingents came few minutes after me.

A placard says, “Mekkah”

Then, I saw about 68 people wearing red-white jacket – typically Indonesian sportsmen – came closer. Noticing their red bag, I read ‘atletik’ indicating that they are Indonesian athletic contingents.

Three team’s officials – who were also working as coach assistants – were busy to get their people into their rooms. For its big contingents, all the rooms at block D of Mekkah’s first floor turned into “athletic village” for about 10 days ahead.

This was when all the athletes and officials gathered for a briefing.

There my wonderful memories began. I introduced myself to all the athletes while taking them to their rooms. Likewise, they warmly welcomed me and accept me as their liaison officer.

Walking back and forth at the building, helping them bringing their luggage and assisting wheelchair users were only few activities I grappled at the first day of working at the APG 2011.

My heart was totally touched to see an Indonesian athlete, Mr Rudiyanto. What an amazing?! That my first time to see a strong person like him who keeps struggling for feeding his family even though his two hands are amputated.

Mr Rudi in action. Got his first gold medal in all-Indonesian final.

Coming from Cirebon – West Java, Mr Rudi is an easy going person. Spending some minutes with him having dinner, I know the reason behind his amputation.

Dated back to 2001, Mr Rudi was working at his home. He was fixing a TV tower, and all of sudden it fell down with its peak touching a cable of mega-electricity tower. He forgot to release his hands off the TV tower.

Mr Rudi was on my right wearing red hat near the bus window. See his happy smile,right?

Mr Rudi alone has a number of special moments in Solo – Central Java. In this city, he got his first ‘artificial hand’ that resembles a hook worn by sea pirates in some Western movies.

Just could not shed my tear when I saw him eating. Using his ‘hook,’ Mr Rudi feels nothing going wrong with the way he eats. He just kept smiling and continued his story.

Yes, Mr Rudi is the one wearing Blangkon, Traditional Javanese Hat.

From this, I should now send more gratitude to Allah for still giving me complete body parts with two hands, two legs, two eyes, two ears, mouth, and nose.

Truly, I accomplished one of my goals in taking part in the APG 2011. At the interview test of becoming a liaison officer, I was asked, “What’s your motivation?”

“I want to send more gratitude to Allah by getting closer to people with physical disabilities,” I said.

Thanks to Allah for giving me chance to learn more about patience and the values of gratitude by taking part in the ASEAN Para Games 2011 in Surakarta, Central Java – Indonesia.

I just remember the Prophet Muhammad said, “If someone sees a person with disabilities; then he says (without being spotted by that person), ‘All praise is to Allah who saves me from what is being tested to that person and (Allah also) gives me more perfection upon many of His creatures,’ then he would not get such a test from Allah in any condition,” (Recorded by Imam Abu Dawud). 02 Shafar 1433 H.