He’s already built two classrooms to provide free English lessons to the children near his village in Indonesia, now Koroit’s Alex Hutabarat is bringing everyone together for a kids’ festival.
Mr Hutabarat will fly to Pagarsinondi in North Sumatra on Tuesday with his wife and two-year-old daughter to host Friday’s festival which is expected to attract 500 children and their parents from four surrounding villages.
The couple, who own Alexo Pizza and Bistro in Port Fairy, will cook pizzas for the children and hand out the chocolates they are taking with them – a rare treat for the children.
There will also be plenty of singing, dancing and music from a local band.
Friends have also donated pencils and books for them to take and give to the children.
Inspired by Warrnambool’s recent Fun4kids Festival, he is hoping to make it an annual event with more activities for the children.
Mr Hutabarat remembers the first time he took chocolates back to his village 10 years ago. “I can’t be like Santa Claus all the time,” he said and decided to give something much better – education.
So seven years ago he began offering free English lessons to the children in the villages that surround his parents’ house.
At first they were held in government school classrooms, but four years ago he built a classroom outside his parents’ house and two years later a second one near another village with the help of volunteers from the Warrnambool district.
Mr Hutabarat said students from a university about an hour away run the free English lessons in those classrooms on Fridays, Saturdays and sometimes Sundays.
The classrooms are also open everyday so children can use the facility which is also filled with library books.
About 500 children aged between 7 and 12 access the English lessons.
“I hope, if we have enough funding next year, we are going to put another classroom in another village because sometimes the kids have to walk 30 minutes, and it’s not really safe,” he said.
Mr Hutabarat said one of the English teachers became concerned when a couple of children who had heard about the free lessons walked an hour along the river to get there.
He said his dream was to do even more to help.
“I see the impact of what we did,” he said.
“Before I die I’m going to have 100 businesses and for every business I’m going to have a school, so before I die we will have 100 schools.”
The region, which was settled by Lutheran missionaries in the 1800s, is filled with coffee and rice farms.