Toraja, Sulawesi: rice barns in classic Torajan architecture at Randanbatu

Not selected for Google Earth or Google Maps [?]

Comments (15)

Rafal Ociepka on August 21, 2008

Ian, what is your job? You explore beautiful countries, meet beautiful girls, take excellent shots

I want to do exactly the same thing! :-)


Ian Stehbens on August 21, 2008

Dear Rafal,

You are a wonderful friend - thank you for your interest.

Beautiful country - YES; Beautiful girls - Sri is now my Toraja daughter, and she is both a beautiful girl and a beautiful person!

I am a peacebuilder and specialise in training others to build peace, to negotiate the surrender of weapons or to choose the way of non-violence. I must visit many places where there is or has been conflict, and that means I must be very strategic in what I do. When working with people in this field there are some essentials such as creating networks of meaningful contacts at all levels of society; immersing myself in the cultures of the people so that I can help to contextualise the teaching and the strategies, or ask the right questions to draw out the fundamentals beliefs and values of a local society.

I have just returned from a strategic visit to eastern Indonesia, spending most of my time in Makassar and in Bali. Next week I have been called to a remote area in Solomon Islands, where there was a very damaging war, and where my trainees are bringing together former enemy combatants for the first time in reconciliation, public forgiveness and to make commitments to future dreams and visions. I will be a witness, and my presence will not only mean I make some contributions but advise those I have trained, learn from them and their courage, and watch community and national forgiveness unfolding. I will have to travel out to this remote coast by helicopter and will return in a small boat with a 40Hp motor a distance of 220kms in the open ocean. The helicopter I will enjoy, but I am very very ambivalent about the boat journey.

I look forward to next week's opportunities for photography for that is essential part of my task.



Rafal Ociepka on August 21, 2008

Ian, what can I say - respect! You take responsibility for human lifes, it has to be very hard and stressful, but if the results of negotiation are good, there is a great satisfaction of your job. I'm really happy I have met you here, have a safe trip to Solomon Islands, and remember - put on a life jacket during your way back home :-)

Gretings from northern hemisphere, take care.

Ian Stehbens on August 22, 2008

My dear friend, Rafal,

I have checked today. They do have life jackets and flares and other essential safety equipment! The boat belongs to World Vision and they are good corporate operators in the NGO Development sector.

So thanks very much, Rafal, for your interest and respect. I learnt so much deep within from my sense of Polish-German-Scottish roots, for the turbulent history suffered directly by my ancestors is written indelibly in my heart, and the more recent history that I have lived has certainly shaped the passion for forgiveness at personal, relational, corporate and particularly national levels.

Every society that I enter has its capacity and processes for reconciliation built into it, so it is tragic that sometimes this is not even last resort, but only used after tragic conflicts.

I will take care, but I must trust.

Thank you very much, Ian

Ed. Rodríguez Prati on August 23, 2008

You answered my question Ian, rice barns! They are beautiful and you were right tagging this one as art. I learned also about the existance of peacebuilders, never knew you exist, a great job! Your life must be very interesting but sometimes I supose you might be in great difficulties. Well, I'm plesantly surprised, what to say, keep on working my friend! My best wishes for you and your comitment, Edmundo

Ian Stehbens on August 23, 2008

Thanks Edmundo and Rafal for your interest in my activity as a peacebuilder. If you perused you will be able to glimpse a little of what I do, and under courses you will see what is about to consume my time and passion for the next couple of months.


Ian Stehbens on August 24, 2008

I have just learnt that Sri (pictured) is this week heading off to Samarinda in East Kalimantan to care for a community of Toraja people who live in that city.

Rafal Ociepka on August 24, 2008

I've explored a site from your link, I've learned a lot about your organisation. I think you do a splendid job, you bring those people hope of peace, when they are hopeless, you bring them understanding, when no one understand them. I'm impressed by your courage, Ian, you're a good man.

I've discovered a lot of your photos on Mr Lincluden gallery too :-)


Ian Stehbens on August 24, 2008

Dear Rafal,

Thank you very much for your affirmation Rafal. I am pleased that you have been able to learn more about the work in peacebuilding that we do. It is challenging but also rewarding.

Lincluden gallery is our site associated with our work in both Peacebuilders and at the College. We use Lincluden to upload the pictures of our students and of our work. Lincluden is the name of our street. It is true that I am the main photographer for work and therefore for "Lincluden".

Yours sincerely,


Rafal Ociepka on August 25, 2008

Ian, thank you for explanation, what Lincluden means.

I'll say it once more: take care of you!


Ian Stehbens on September 4, 2008

Hi again, Rafal.

I have returned from Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, safely. There were two 8hr trips in the open ocean by small boat (4M) and a lot of wet days so I was wet most of the time. I have returned with a chest infection, but that will pass. And few more sleeps and I should be fine again. But it was a dramatic time witnessing the work of our graduates as they organized the first meetings of people groups from both sides of the 1998-2003 war. A sheer privilege, indeed. I'll soon be uploading on both sites.

My best regards,


Rafal Ociepka on September 4, 2008

Hello there, Ian!

I'm glad you are back in one piece, you are right, in a short time infection will pass, and you will be ready for another trip.

I'm really looking forward your great pictures.

Get well soon, take care


Ian Stehbens on January 2, 2009

Happy New Year, Rafal and Edmundo!

I am ready for another trip, this year. In fact, my life will be changing for I will be finishing at the College soon, then we will move to Brisbane, leaving Sydney after 14 years here. As we semi-retire, there will be a semester of teaching in Tonga in the later half of this year. Hope that this semi-retirement also means some great opportunities for travel.

Best wishes for a peaceful and fulfilling 2009.


Rafal Ociepka on January 3, 2009

Happy New Year too, Ian!

New place to live - new challenges! :-) It has to be sad to leave such a beautiful town as Sydney after 14 yrs, but Brisbane is great too (I've seen photos). I'm sure you will be satisfied.

Have a great new time in your life


Ian Stehbens on January 3, 2009

And in the heart there is the hope that our semi-retiring will allow some treasured dreams of travel to be realised, Rafal.

Thank you for your encouragement,


Sign up to comment. Sign in if you already did it.

Photo taken in Bebo, North Sangalla, Tana Toraja Regency, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

Photo details

  • Uploaded on August 20, 2008
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens