By Lydia Sturton, Halimah’s daughter
My parents met at an art school in London called the Slade, were married in 1949 and opened in the early 1960s in the Canterbury group in UK, then we quite quickly moved to Australia where my paternal grandfather had spent his early years before moving to England. In Australia we lived for a long time in Melbourne. Dad went to the Tokyo World Congress as the Melbourne delegate and got “lost” in Jakarta on the way home for a month or more, and so by the time the Cilandak World Congress rolled around, it was clearly Mum’s turn.
I have two older brothers and one younger, who is the only one of us four kids born in Australia. In 1974 we two younger siblings accompanied our parents to Cilandak for a two week stay just before Ramadan. Dad (Sofyan) was an art teacher, my brother Stephen was still at school and I was halfway through teacher college so we went in the school holidays. Mum at that time was working an office job but quite soon after that began to train as a potter which she really took a liking to, setting up her own pottery in their Melbourne home and again in Brisbane, Queensland, where they moved in 1985. The move north was prompted by his retirement from teaching and Dad’s desire to work with challenging teens in the early days of Morningside Care, but that did not last very long.
During our short stay in 1974 I remember Mum talking to Hasijah Rosefeld about her newly formed shoeshine boys enterprise and there was a day trip to Cipanas to see the fish farm and children’s village that was in its early days at that time; I think Wilbert Verheyen [founding member of Yayasan Usaha Mulia (YUM)] was also around, someone my parents were very interested to meet and whom Mum greatly admired.
Around this time Halimah was the Australian SBIF chair (as SDIA was then called) and managed through sheer persistence to get local reps in every single group in Australia, all raising money for the various projects we were supporting. She had her own SBIF committee which consisted of herself, Melissa Rolls – one of the very first Subud Melbourne members – and me, who she also roped in, although I was never particularly sure what I was doing.
The Vietnam war was coming to an end and our main fundraising effort during that time was the sponsorship of a Vietnamese Subud family who eventually moved to USA. Another of our fundraising drives was to create a cook book we called the yum-my cook book because it was for the YUM project in Indonesia, recipes collected on scraps of paper and typed by Halimah on her portable Olivetti typewriter, with the cover designed by Dad. I wish I still had a copy but we moved in 2017 after 30 years in the same house and it was one of the casualties.
By then, Mum was 90 and moved in with us to a house by the river in northern New South Wales. We prepared the granny flat, moved her furniture from Canberra where she had been living since my father’s death in 2005, but 10 days after she moved in, we had a flood of epic proportions, the like of which had not seen for over 100 years. Her filing cabinet and many other things were only fit for the
dump after that – otherwise I am sure I would have found much more detail of her involvement with SDI and her time as SBIF chair as well,
including the name of the family we sponsored. I remember Mum and the family corresponded for several years. I have tried but cannot find the corner of my mind where their name is lodged, which is a pity. I would love to know if any of them are connected to Subud USA. For years my parents supported Susila Dharma International, with the dollar a day club mainly, and this was continued until Halimah died last September.
She was 92 when she died and had led an interesting and varied life from joining up at the end of World War II to being evicted from her home by a flood in 2017, which I might say she took on the chin, living in a luxury caravan on our front lawn for several months until the repairs had been done. At the time of her death she had 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.