An Indonesian priest is honored by a local government in Argentina in appreciation of his missionary work.
Father Amans Laka from the province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Indonesia, received an honor from the government of Puerto Esperanza, Misiones Province, Argentina, South America.
The appreciation of his missionary work was memorialized by naming one of the streets in the city in his name. The length of the road that uses his name is approximately four kilometers.
Father Laka belongs to the Society of the Divine Word (Societas Verbi Divini - SVD). He was born in Tanah Putih, Kefamenanu, NTT, on May 14, 1967. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Paulus Ledalero Seminary, Maumere, NTT (1987-1995).
After being ordained a priest on September 20, 1995, he was assigned to northern Argentina, at Esperanza City, Misiones Province. He was there for 20 years (1996 - 2016).
In recognition of this humanitarian work, the Puerto Esperanza City government gave the name "Amans Laka" on one of the streets in the city. The road's naming was inaugurated in December 2007, penakatolika.com reported.
The name of Amans Laka Street was given to Pastor Laka's dedication in Argentina. He established two Farmer Family Schools in the local language called Escuela Familia Agricola (EFA) of St. Arnold Jansen, the founder of SVD, and St. Josef Freinademetz SVD, the first SVD missionary in China.
Father Laka developed hectares of land for agriculture and animal husbandry to support the schools.
He educates and empowers the youth of farming families. These agricultural products are marketed in collaboration with various Argentine government agencies and private companies and with foreign countries such as Germany and Indonesia.
"I gather young people, especially from villages, so that they can avail education so that they do not fall into drugs and marijuana," the priest said.
Besides, they do not leave their villages or gardens because after finishing their studies, they can cultivate in their land, he added.
In his mission, he encourages and directs students at EFA to learn and love agriculture. Hence, they would not look down on the farmers and are ready to cultivate their extensive family-owned farmland.
In 2011, Father Laka, with the support of the Indonesian Embassy in Argentina, founded the Schools of the Republic of Indonesia in Argentina.
"The school was named that way because the Indonesian became their 'foster parents' of its students," he said.
His initiative to collaborate with the Indonesian Embassy in Buenos Aires received a positive response from Mrs. Dr. Nurmala Kartini Pandjaitan Sjahrir, the then ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
Dr. Kartini is the wife of a famous Indonesian economist, the late Dr. Sjarir. She is the sister of the retired general Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, M.P.A, the coordinating minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Indonesia Cabinet for the 2019–2024 period.
"I feel grateful and proud to have received support and a lot of help from her. Without her, the school would not exist," Father Laka explained.
"Great support," he continued, "also came from the next Indonesian Ambassador, Jonny Sinaga. Without his support, the school could not develop."
"Schools of the Republic of Indonesia cover the Kindergarten to the University level. There are no teachers and students from Indonesia yet. All of them are Argentinians," the priest said.
After 20 years of serving the people and youth in Poerto Esparanza, Father Laka returned to Indonesia.
Niniek Kun Niryati, present Indonesian Ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, presented a letter of appreciation to Father Laka on September 20, 2021.
In the letter, Mrs. Niryati explained that Pastor Laka had contributed significantly to establishing the Schools of the Republic of Indonesia in Argentina.
After waiting almost two years, Father Laka obtained a visa from the Cuban Embassy. Currently, he devotes his life as an Indonesian missionary in Cuba.