Indonesian man walking backwards from East Java to Jakarta to save forests

Medi Bastoni walks 20 to 30 km backwards every day under the scorching sun, with a rear-view mirror attached to his backpack to avoid bumping into objects.
Medi Bastoni walks 20 to 30 km backwards every day under the scorching sun, with a rear-view mirror attached to his backpack to avoid bumping into objects.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MEDI BASTONI/AFP
Medi Bastoni walks 20 to 30 km backwards every day under the scorching sun, with a rear-view mirror attached to his backpack to avoid bumping into objects.
Medi Bastoni walks 20 to 30 km backwards every day under the scorching sun, with a rear-view mirror attached to his backpack to avoid bumping into objects.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MEDI BASTONI/AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - An Indonesian man is walking 700km from his home on a volcano in East Java to Jakarta in the hope of drawing attention to the archipelago's quickly shrinking forests - and he is doing it backwards.

Mr Medi Bastoni, a 43-year-old father of four, set out on his arduous, in-reverse journey in mid-July, with the goal of reaching the capital by Aug 16, a day before the South-east Asian nation's independence day anniversary.

"Of course I'm exhausted, but I'm willing to do this to fight for the next generation," Mr Medi told AFP.

"(My home) is losing all of its trees so I have to do something. I can take the pain and fatigue."

When he arrives in Jakarta, Mr Medi said he hopes to meet President Joko Widodo and highlight deforestation across the archipelago, including at his home on Mount Wilis, a dormant volcano.

Indonesia suffers from one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, according to Greenpeace.

Mr Medi walks 20km to 30km backwards every day under the scorching sun, with a rear-view mirror attached to his backpack to avoid bumping into objects.

Along the way, supporters cheer him on, offer him meals or a place to stay overnight. But he always leaves at dawn to stay on schedule.

 

Walking backwards is meant as a signal to Indonesians to reflect on the past and remember how national heroes fought for the good of the country, he said.