ACTNews, LUWU – Thick white clouds were seen floating in the azure sky, looking very close to the ground. Houses of the locals looked like small dots compared to the gigantic hills that enclosed them. The mesmerizing scenery of Tabang Village reminds us humans that we are nothing but a tiny speck in the universe.
Not many people have heard about Tabang Village nor the high mountain on which it is located. Lying on the foot of Latimojong mountain, Sulawesi’s highest mountain, the village is isolated from the outside world. It took us three hours to get there from the nearest town of Belopa.
To reach Belopa, Global Qurban team South Sulawesi had to travel for nine hours from Makassar across seven regencies: Maros, Pangkep, Barru, Parepare, Pinrang, Sidrap and Siwa.
Upon our arrival in Belopa, Luwu Regency, we had to ride in a heavy vehicle like truck to conquer the steep, unlit dirt road that is prone to landslides. Officially, Tabang Village is a part of Luwu Regency, but it borders other regencies such as Enrekang and Tana Toraja.
There’s only one mobile network operator whose coverage reaches the village only for making phone calls and test messages. Along the road, we met the locals who were climbing to higher places to get enough signal to communicate with the outside world. No wonder that this village seemed untouched by the rapid development of modern world.
Happiness in isolation
Living in isolation, are they deprived of happiness? That’s not seemed to be the case. As our feet stepped on the soil of Tabang, we were welcomed by wide smiles of the children who were busy playing. They used the sloping hill as a slide and played with spare tires by rolling them on the ground.
“They all go to school. Alhamdulillah, there is an elementary school in each hamlet here; there is a secondary school in the village as well. To go to high school, we have to go to Belopa,” said Narli (29), a mother of five, offering drinks to us on the day after Eid-ul-Adha (8/23) on the porch of her house.
Apart from schools, Tabang village is also equipped with Community Health Clinic (Puskesmas), markets, and worshipping facilities. The village is powered by a hydropower plant. Despite living near water, clean water scarcity is still a problem they have to face.
“In dry season, there is no water left. At times we have to walk for three kilometers to take water from the spring,” said Hamalia (48).
Drought also drastically changed the life in Tabang Village. Hamalia recounted that cloves used to be the main commodity produced in the village apart from coffee and cacao. Since 2915, unfortunately, many clove trees died due to severe drought.
“Perhaps there are only five clove trees left. My husband used to cultivate cloves,” said Hamalia while introducing us to her husband Udding, now appointed as the village Imam.
Around 70% of the total population in Tabang are Muslims who live harmoniously with people of other faiths. Along the road, we saw that everyone seemed to know one another. Living in such a small community has strengthened their bond. They, 667 of Tabang villagers, have no one but each other.
“We are a small community. We rarely have a celebration, including Eid-ul-Adha,” said Hamalia.
The cow that Global Qurban South Sulawesi brought became a wonderful surprise that cheered the Tabang Villagers. After the sacrifice was performed, the meat distributed to the houses in Tabang became the first meat that they savored after two years without qurbani sacrifice. The cow was funded by the generosity of Indonesians who care about their fellow countrymen.
“On behalf of the villagers, I thank Global Qurban very much. Finally, we can eat meat again this year,” said Asdin (39), Tabang village chief, emotionally.
As per the Makassarese custom, the locals entertained us, their guests who came all the way from Makassar. On that day, on the stilted house, we sipped a cup of coffee, watching the sun sunk behind the peak of the mountain. Spending the afternoon with these humble villagers, praying that the unity of the people of Indonesia remains strong wherever they are, from the outer edge of each island to Tabang Village on the foot of mount Latimojong.