Government helps stranded RI choir return home
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Representatives of the Indonesian government in the US have assisted a group of 49 Indonesian students, who have been stranded in Cincinnati for days, and are helping them return home as soon as possible, officials have said.
According to a Foreign Ministry press release, the Indonesian Consulate General in Chicago had looked after the “Gema Chandra Cendrawasih University” choir in Cincinnati soon after they heard the singers were stranded due to travel and financial issues.
“Indonesian envoys provided decent accommodation and meals for the choir in Cincinnati before they left for San Francisco on Tuesday [local time],” the ministry’s information and media director PLE Priatna said in the statement.
According to him, the Indonesian Embassy in Washington and the Consulate General in Chicago had agreed to provide bus transportation from Cincinnati to San Francisco for the choir.
The group of singers, who are students of the Cendrawasih University in Jayapura, Papua, are expected to fly home from San Francisco, the statement said.
“The Indonesian Consulate General in San Francisco has geared up to help smooth their return trip,” the statement said.
Indonesian ambassador for the US, Dino Patti Djalal, said he regretted the incident.
“This should be taken as a lesson for any Indonesians going overseas that having travel insurance is important. Insurance can help resolve this kind of incident,” he said after meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the State Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday evening.
The choir had expected to take part in the July 4-14 World Choir Games in Cincinnati but missed it because they arrived at the venue about a week after they were supposed to perform.
Raif Revassy, the choir leader, was quoted by the ministry’s statement saying that their late arrival was due to the delays in fund disbursement from their sponsors.
“Adding to the problems was the difficulty in getting Jakarta-San Francisco tickets,” he said.
Not wanting to miss the international event, they decided to collect money from various sources but were only able to cover about half of their travel expenses.
As a result, they arrived in the US without enough money to buy return tickets.
They were embraced by city residents, however, who were determined to open their hearts and wallets to get the singers to perform and then to return them home.
The efforts to help the choir involved impromptu performances, and thousands of dollars in donations were raised which the choir reportedly plans to use to catch a flight home.
Social media helped spread the word, and a few listeners grew to an audience of several hundred people.
The generosity extended to people’s wallets. The donations brought the singers to tears.
“I hope any future foreign trips by an Indonesian delegation will consult the Foreign Ministry beforehand,” Priatna said.