Unsung heroes: Widi Astuti is making the most of life in the South West

Headshot of Breanna Redhead
Breanna RedheadSouth Western Times
Widi Astuti migrated to Bunbury from Indonesia in 2013.
Camera IconWidi Astuti migrated to Bunbury from Indonesia in 2013. Credit: Breanna Redhead

Although only living in Bunbury for a decade, the time has been a whirlwind for one passionate local who has “fallen in love” with the coastal city.

Widi Astuti is a compassionate and driven woman who has spent the last ten years giving back to the city she has come to call home, dedicating her time volunteering for a variety of organisations and encouraging others to do the same.

Arriving in Bunbury in 2013 with her then-husband, some may say it was a stroke of fate that brought them together in the stunning rainforests of Indonesia.

“I used to run a small business as a trip organiser and one day I took my clients to North Sumatra,” she recalled.

“My husband, who is from Bunbury, was also travelling there at the time and I met him at the visitor’s centre, he came up to me and we started chatting.

“That night at dinner I bumped into him again. Three times that day we bumped into each other, I don’t know if that’s what you call destiny.”

“He actually sent me a message that night. Unfortunately, I was too focused on my work and I didn’t have time to check my emails. I replied to his email five days later when I was in Surabaya, East Java.

“It didn’t matter because now here we are.”

After spending some time in a long-distance relationship, the pair married in Singapore in 2013 before moving to Bunbury a few months later.

Having spent a lot of time travelling for school and work, she said she is used to adapting to new environments.

“When I was in Bunbury for the first time, I just loved it,” she said.

“Of course, I missed my family, but it wasn’t really hard for me, because I’d been away from my family for school when I was growing up and later travelling for work and I had also moved to Jakarta to study at university a week after my high school graduation.”

“Bunbury is just such a beautiful part of the world. I love being by the beach, the beach is my happy place and the people here are just wonderful too.”

Tragically after just five years, Widi’s husband passed away leaving her heartbroken as she was left to face a new foreign country on her own.

She quickly turned to volunteering as a way to take her mind off things, admitting that getting out in the community is what “kept her alive.”

Initially she got involved with the Bunbury Multicultural group to meet other new migrants in the area, before later becoming involved in a number of community organisations including the Hudson Road Family Centre, The Harmony Day Event, MINT Playgroup, and Investing In Our Youth.

In addition, her contribution at the Dolphin Discovery Centre has been captured in the centre’s multi-lingual welcoming billboard.

Since 2018, she has also dedicated her services to the team at Volunteer South West where she is actively involved in placing other new migrants into volunteer roles in the local community.

Widi described this as a very rewarding experience.

“Every day I get to meet new, interesting people and hear their stories,” she said.

“I always encourage my friends who have just arrived from Indonesia and other nationalities to get involved and try something new.

“The best part about volunteering is that you meet so many people and you also build your skills to enable you to find work with local references to support you.”

While many migrants may be nervous about getting involved in the community due to their limited English skills, Widi has embraced the challenge because she is always eager to learn more.

Pursuing an English course at TAFE and the volunteering experience has helped grow her confidence.

“I’m not very good at English so I always make sure I’m up the front in the office where I can speak to people so I can learn and improve my skills,” she said.

“Otherwise, if you keep hiding, you may never improve and you’d never get to meet all the wonderful interesting people in our community.”

“Through my time at Volunteer South West, I feel like I have my confidence back, but I’m still learning every day.”

When she’s not volunteering, Widi also spends her time working at the OSH Club Leschenault where she enjoys the cultural exchange between herself and the students.

“Working with the children is great because we are both learning as we go,” she said.

“If I say something wrong, they teach me how to say it correctly.

“I get so much out of working with them. I love it.”

She also spends time in the classroom at the Leschenault Catholic Primary School assisting the teacher in the Indonesian class.

Widi enjoys offering students first-hand insights into the language and culture of her homeland.

“I like being able to share my culture and life with the students,” she said.

“It’s also a great chance to spread some of the Indonesian culture here in Bunbury.

“A lot of people think Indonesia is just Bali but there are so many other places . . . Indonesia consists of over 17,000 islands with more than 700 languages and more than 1300 ethnic groups.”

“I’m so proud to be from Lampung, Sumatra and to be able to share my culture with the Bunbury community through our food, music and traditions.”

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