It is with great sadness that ACICIS announces the death on 11 October 2007 of our ACICIS Administrative Assistant in Jogjakarta, Ms Lestari Widyastuti.

Lestari had been in hospital for several weeks with pneumonia and respiratory complications. However, her health deteriorated suddenly and unexpectedly and she passed away in the early morning. After rituals at her family’s residential compound near the Jogjakarta palace, she was laid to rest later that day. The ACICIS Resident Director, Dr Philip King, attended on behalf of the consortium. ACICIS students and friends also paid their respects throughout the day.

This is clearly a very distressing time for the ACICIS ‘family’ and for all who knew Lestari. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family (particularly her two sisters) and friends in their grief. Lestari had many, many friends amongst the ‘keluarga besar ACICIS’ who will be greatly saddened by her passing. She worked unceasingly over more than a decade to help ACICIS students and staff, and contributed greatly to building precisely the kinds of ‘bridges’ that ACICIS was set up to encourage. As former Resident Director Associate Professor David Reeve has said, ‘we could not have had a more devoted person working for ACICIS’.

Lestari will be greatly missed by all. I have asked Dr King to pass on my personal condolences — and those of ACICIS as an organisation — to Lestari’s family at this very sad time.

Those wishing to record their condolences or thoughts on Lestari’s sad passing may do so below, by sending your thoughts to the ACICIS Secretariat. Any similar entries on the ACICIS group pages on Facebook and Friendster are also included here.

Professor David T. Hill
ACICIS Consortium Director
12 October 2007


Susan Cattermole I first met Lestari before ACICIS even existed. I was a student at Monash University, undertaking an intensive language course at UGM in the summer of 1990/91. Lestari was one of the UGM students assigned to accompany and assist us. I caught up with Lestari again in 1992 when I was a participant on the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program and again in 1995 when I was living in Jakarta. In all the years I knew her, Lestari remained warm, caring, funny and completely off her tree! She was one of the most genuine and generous people I have ever met.
Monique and Parto Van Der Harst Lestari was a beautiful person both inside and out and we can’t believe it’s been 100 days already. Yogyakarta lost a great personality when she passed. Kami meningatkan Lestari hari ini dan berdoa dapat tempat yang tenang di sisinya.
Aimee Cairns When I heard that Lestari had died, I was so shocked and emotional – her death is an undescribable loss to all that knew her and the ACICIS program. I tried to explain my sadness and how Lestari affected my life to a friend. I started telling stories and we both ended looking at photos and laughing hysterically at the silly things that Lestari, my friends and I had done during my stay in Yogyakarta. We all had a blast, I had the absolute time of my life and Lestari was such a huge part of it. Lestari taught me about compassion and understanding other cultures, even when they dont always understand you. I got myself into plenty of sticky situations during my stay, she was an unjudgemental and unconditional friend when I needed one. Always on hand with a smile and a beer. I will always be grateful for having known her.
Margaret Heather I first heard about Lestari, this Indonesian woman who assisted ACICIS students, from my son Scott and his friend Aaron when they studied in Jogja in 2000. The stories kept coming from other students, from Kasia who was there in 2001 and who is now about to marry my son. Scott and his friends continued to visit Jogja and always there was Lestari. Finally it was my turn to be an ACICIS student in Jogja and who was there to smooth the way, help when I felt down and to laugh with me – Lestari. It is extremely difficult to accept that she is no longer with us. Such a wonderful person, accessible to everyone. Lestari you are sadly missed. Our thoughts are with your family.
Matt Stephens As a member of the Jakarta Bintangs Australian Football Club I have been lucky enough to know Lestari since 2005 when the club initially hooked up with her and the ACICIS program. What stands out most in my memory of Lestari was her warmth, her smile and her ability to immediately put people at ease. Plus her love of a beer. Lestari came up to Jakarta a few times with some of the anak ACICIS and invariably led the way on the partying side. She was a truly wonderful person. Her passing leaves me profoundly sad.
Natalie Widdall I would like to say that: I don’t know how my ACICIS experience would have been like without Lestari. I cant imagine it being nearly as fantastic if she was not part of it. Lestari made my time in Jogja not only feel like home, but also extremely fun. My fondest memories are of the parties and events that Lestari organised and made sure we all attended. My condolences go out to Lestari’s family and the ACICIS community.
Rully Putra I really very shocked receiving message from my old friend at Yogya that Lestari passed away. I could not believe it! I knew her for a long time and I remember when she came to my birthday party with her Aussie friends. She was a lovely wonderful friend. Everybody knows her at Yogya. This morning, I picked up the Jakarta Post newspaper and there is article about Lestari ACICIS and I am sadness beyond belief!
Deb Hartlett I have just heard the news about Lestari’s passing, and am saddened beyond belief. She will be missed by all – she was such a good friend, who took us anak-anak ACICIS under her wing in Yogya back in 2000. I’ll never forget her huuge smile….taking us to eat lesehan….and of course sharing a Bintang/Arak or two! Mbak Lestari – you’ll be missed.
Gerry and Helene van Klinken (Resident Directors, 2000-2002) One of the nicest discoveries for our Australian students when they arrived in Yogyakarta was that their Javanese sister friend, Lestari, enjoyed a beer too; the end of their first misconception about Java! Many more were to follow (beers, friends and other discoveries). Thank you Lestari.
Russell Yule Ever since reading the news, I have had the memory of Lestari as she is in the photo at the top of the tribute page. That smile. Our group didn’t get to spend much time in Yogya, but Lestari made sure we enjoyed the time we did. I don’t think anyone can convey how much she contributed to ACICIS students on so many levels. Please pass on my condolences to the family.
Novera aduh mba…kapan lagi aku bisa ngasi dompet LV n Jco donuts pesanan mba ini yah???? I’ve told u I wud visit u in hospital soon as I arrived ..but I found u in another place to rest forever… Pasti mba sudah gak sakit lagi, sembuh as u told me that you would be home 2 days before Lebaran. lots of luv n hugs. Mbak Lestari. A great friend and sister…selamat Jalan semoga dilapangkan jalanmu menuju alam baru bersama Alloh Swt…I ll miss every single days we spent together..your laughs, gossip, and helps. Miss u HEAPS Mbak…HUGS
Emily Low Lestari- yogya just wont be the same without you. We will miss your friendship, advice and stories.. makasih Lestari utk semuanya.. you were the best!
Camille Beckingham It’s impossible to capture the entirety of a woman of such warmth and depth in a few words. Lestari was beauty and kindness. It’s such a testament to Lestari’s character that all who met her, even for a short period, feel like she was a dear friend, their kakak perempuan. Lestari had some funny stories of her partying ways- such a genuine heart with all- and man, she’s left her print on us!! Never expected my ride home from bintang on her motor in June to be the last. Selamat jalan mbak. My prayers go out for all those who are feeling the gap she has left in their life.
Ari Sulanjari I don’t know where to start but today early sunday morning in sydney I googled ACICIS to find Lestari’s email address so I can email her to find out her current mobile number.(I will be visiting Jogja in December and would like to catch up with her). What I found everybody was saying good bye to her. I thought she has gave up her job. Saya kenal Lestari sejak 1997 sampai 2003 saya harus pindah ke Australia. Saya sedih sekali.
Bec Duffy Well it’s been a long time since I checked my email, and to hear about Lestari… wow it’s incredibly sad. And reading Emma’s blog on the website did indeed make me cry. It’s brought back a whole bunch of memories of Lestari – always being there, smiling and laughing, and being so amazingly supportive and understanding! I guess because she did, in many ways, straddle the two cultures… My thoughts and best wishes to Lestari’s family, Phil, Wawan and ACICIS people in Yogya and elsewhere for whom she was a close friend. It won’t be the same going back and not seeing her…
John Psilopatis I was greatly saddened to read this news. Lestari was a kind and generous friend. My thoughts go back to my year in Indonesia, and her tireless efforts to support all the anak acicis. I can’t help but think how lost I would have been during my first few weeks in Jogja if it hadn’t had been for Lestari. My deepest sympathies go out to Lestari’s family.
Robin Bednall I’m writing on behalf of the Jakarta Bintangs Australian Rules Football Club, of whom Lestari was a valued member. A number of our players are current or former ACICIS students and many of the other players knew Lestari well from the work she did in supporting the Bintangs activities across Indonesia and SE Asia.
Lea Jellinek I was really saddened to hear of Lestari’s death. She was a truly devoted worker for ACICIS. Her heart was always in the right place. She cared so much for the students in her care in Yogya. She went out of her way to help each one of them. When they requested something of her, she always obliged, never said “no”, even if at times she had to go out of her way and was disadvantaged by having to do so. Ed and I both admired her kindness, caring and generosity so much. We wanted to encourage her to take up further study and look towards having a life after ACICIS because as far as we could see in 2004-2005 the ACICIS program and students were her life.
Max Stickel I couldn’t believe it when one of her sisters told me the bad news.met her first in 2004 and we spend a lot of time and bintang together(sometimes too much).I never met a girl who could drink that much.I will never forget that funny time.As I always said:The idiots on this planet get f…..g old and the good ones die too early.I will miss you. bye bye Lestari.
Kerry James It was such a shock to hear of Lestari’s illness and passing too young. She gave so much of herself and built bridges in the true spirit of ACICIS. In 2002 she supported so many, myself and my children, Shanti and Khadi included, through our Jogja journey. We all remember her smiling face, her love for a party and her commitment to ACICIS. Deepest condolences to her family. We celebrate that we have been so lucky to know this remarkable woman, Lestari.
Emma Monk I was so sad to hear about Lestari… will be so strange not seeing here when i go back to Indo. I am sure she will be missed by everyone, including her family.
Emily Williams Please pass on my condolences to Lestari’s family, friends and ACICIS staff. Lestari was a truly special woman who will be missed by all. To have known such a generous, kind and beautiful person such as Lestari is a privilege.
Sarah Williams I just heard the news and am shocked by the loss of ACICIS’s shining star Lestari. You lived life to the fullest and made such an impact on so many people. A great loss to the ACICIS family. I’ll have a Bintang for ya Mbak!
Elly Kent and Shane Bolitho My partner, Shane, and I spent 2001 and Yogyakarta while I was studied with ACICIS. The whole experience, especially those first few days and weeks, was so enriched by the understanding, compassionate, and always outrageous, Lestari. Always there to lend a helpful hand or a consoling ear, Lestari seemed to understand better than anyone what we ACICIS students (and our partners and families) needed. She did this both on an individual level as a good friend, and on a broader level, as a liaison with UGM and an organiser of amazing experiences – ranging from outstanding parties (Brown Sugar, yeah!) to trips to places we might not have found without her. She did it all with an enthusiasm I’ve rarely seen since. I’m attaching a photo we took of Lestari on one of these adventures. It’s a little bit blurry, but there she is, riding high and full of life. That’s how we’ll always remember her. Please pass our sincere condolences to her family – she was well loved, and loved well.
Ciaran Harman Please pass along my deepest condolences to Lestari’s family. I can scarcely believe she is gone. Lestari was a constant source of encouragement, advice and fun. She was so devoted to the students. She helped me find a place to live, she gossiped, she partied. She was just cool. Lestari, selamat jalan.
Deryn Mansell Lestari’s is the first name on the acknowledgments page of my Masters thesis. I couldn’t have done it without her.
Fran Mules Mbak Lestari was such a fun, warm, good natured person. Someone you could share a joke with, confide in or rely on in times of trouble. A terrific ambassador for Indonesia and a tremendous support for all the anak ACICIS over the past decade – myself included. It is hard to imagine that Lestari – who had such a wonderful appetite for life – is gone. We will all miss her very much. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.
Zahra Matthews Lestari was simply amazing- all the motorbike trips, the sakit issues, the kos/SIM/motor/Immigrasi negotiations… her warmth and devotion to making our experience as fantastic as it was will not be forgotten. Everyone in Jogja knew Mbak Les – she will be sadly missed.
Anthony Crowe Like everyone else I’m finding it hard to believe this, she was an institution of ACICIS and I’ll greatly miss her. My thoughts are with her family and everyone who loved her.
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Ray Webber Some of you may have heard through the grapevine already, but for those who haven’t, sadly our dear friend Lestari passed away last night. According to Phil, her lungs gave up on her after a battle with pneumonia. My condolences go out to her family and loved ones. She will be greatly missed.
Penny Coutas I too felt shock at the news of Lestari’s passing. I can relate to all of the messages already left here, and sorrow that I’ll never get a chance to share more adventures with Lestari. In reading the other messages, I notice that a lot of us feel the need to “melestarikan peringatan Lestari”. But I was thinking, rather than a scholarship (or perhaps in addition to a scholarship or the like?) we sponsor a “party” in her honour every semester to help “smooth the way” for the group of anak acicis. This wouldn’t be part of the official “orientation” but instead be held a little while later when everyone needs a chance to unwind, rant, rave, and be listened to (something Lestari helped us all with, not just me, I’m sure!). Lestari loved a good party, a good gathering, a good time… and like a big sister, she showed us all what a good time Yogya could be. So shouldn’t something done in her memory celebrate what we remember Lestari for the most? For me it wasn’t the formal study a scholarship would imply, but rather friendship, advice, laughter, and the sharing of some very good times (and bintang!).
Marion McQueen My thoughts are with all anak ACICIS at this sad time. Lestari introduced me to the family l lived with in Yogya. She organised the catering for a party we held. She was there for me during a personally sad time. We once drank coffee with Kaluah at 9am on the beach…only so it didn’t go to waste! Many times l walked along Jakal and she’d pull along-side to offer me a ride. The last time l saw Lestari she waved me off in a taxi; we’d been to the orphange to deliver the remains of my semester in Yogya… Always with enthusiasm and a warm smile… Nothing was ever too much trouble for Lestari, she was a wonderful ambassador for both Indonesia and ACICIS. Thank-you Lestari… will be sadly missed.
Orlando, Anna dan Carlos de Guzman Kami berduka cita atas wafatnya teman terbaik kami Lestari. Semoga almarhumah telah aman diterima Tuhan Yang Maha Kuasa, dan bagi kita yang ditinggalkan, semoga berkah dan cinta-Nya memberikan perkasa supaya kita dapat menghadapi saat ini yang amat sedih. Tidak ada kata-kata yang dapat mengekspresikan kesedihan kami saat kami menerima kabar bahwa Lestari telah berpulang.
Andrew Marshall I was very shocked and saddened to hear that Lestari is no longer with us. I am a British journalist, and I first met Lestari in May 2006 when she helped me research a story for National Geographic Magazine about Mt Merapi. She was much more than a translator. She was my patient and knowledgable guide to the complexities of Javanese culture. We met Mbah Marijan and spent time on Merapi together. We had a lot of fun, thanks to Lestari’s wonderful sense of humor and unfailing good cheer. (I never saw her in a bad mood.) Her passing is a tragedy. I will miss Lestari’s infectious high spirits and will struggle to understand why someone so kind and good is taken away from us so early. I was friends with her for only a short time, but it is a friendship I will always remember with great affection. I send my heartfelt condolences to Lestari’s family.
Lynda Godfrey Thank you for providing a forum in which to express our love for Lestari. Shock doesn’t describe it, it should not have happened, Lestari had such a heap of living to do. It was a privilege to know Lestari, someone who had the wonderful gift of empathising with so many different people, and who was so generous of her time, help and special brand of good fun. Who was a wonderful human being. Please let her family know how much she was loved.
Steve Wright Lestari, ever lasting, this definitely describes her. She will be an ever lasting memory for me as I’m sure she will be for all that knew her. When ever I think of ACICIS, Lestari is in the same thought. Looking for advice? see Lestari, looking for a shop? see Lestari, looking for a bike to rent or buy? see Lestari, looking for a license? see Lestari, looking for a friend to talk to? see Lestari, looking for a friend to go out with? see Lestari. I know ACICIS will survive with out Lestari but these are big shoes to fill. The ever lasting one will be ever lasting with me.
Amanda Linton I am very sorry indeed to hear of Lestari’s passing, she had a great sense of fun and was a joy to have known. Lestari will indeed be greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting her and becoming her friend.
Martha Grossman I am absolutely shocked to hear of the passing of Lestari. What an amazing conduit Lestari was, not only between Australians and Indonesians culturally but amongst a range of other nationalities that continue to have a strong presence in Yogyakarta. I can only hope that Lestari’s joy, enthusiasm and zest for life will never be forgotten. This must be such devastating news for Lestari’s family, especially during idul fitri, my deepest condolences.
Heather Stewart I was so sad to hear of Lestari passing away.. She was a rock, a fund of information, comfort during distressing periods and always there for all of us. She will be missed and a very hard act to follow.
Francesca Hart In her life cut short Lestari touched many people. I was in Yogya in 2000 and it is a reflection of the type of person Lestari was, to see that the Lestari I knew was still welcoming, comforting, “orientating” and partying with ACICIS students up until she got sick 7 years later. She will be sadly missed by many, but remembered very fondly – when I think of her I will always think of her big smile and get a smile myself.
Meg Owens My condolences go out to Lestari’s family and also the the ACICIS family, in this devastating time. As shock turns to grief, I realise how rare it is to meet a person who, as Lestari did, lived a lifestyle to cater to the needs of others, and did it so generously and selflessly. Whether it was taking students to imigrasi, accompanying people to doctors, taking people places on her motorbike, coming along to Bintang or just having a chat, laugh or asking how things were going, Lestari was always the first to come to the party to make the lives of others just that little bit easier, or in many cases so much easier. Jogja is full of Lestari’s memory.
Sally McDonald This is such shocking news. I met Lestari in 1999. Every time I’ve been back to Yogya since I’ve looked her up and she has always been the same wonderful, welcoming, supportive friend. I will miss her. Someone mentioned setting up a scholarship in her honour – I’d be very happy to contribute.
Claire Tatyzo I think everyone’s comments express how we are all feeling right now. Devastated. So I would just like to pass on my condolences to Lestari’s family and friends, and to the ACICIS family, especially to Phil and Wawan who i know will feel quite lost without her. Stay strong. She was always around to help us out, take us somewhere on her bike, with that little plastic helmet, or just be there as a friend. She loved being around people, and laughing. I will never forget that smile of hers. We will miss you Lestari. Good luck on your new journey. xx
Anne Dickson From orientation (August ’06) onwards, Lestari was a great friend to us ACICIS students. She cared about each of us and was committed to helping us as best she could. She patiently answered all the questions I asked her throughout the semester, even down to where to get a hair-cut, how much to pay for a kebaya and what one should bring as a gift when visiting a Javanese family. I fondly remember visiting Sayap Ibu orphanage with Lestari and the great conversation we had afterwards. My prayers are with Lestari’s family and ACICIS at this time.
Sunny Sanderson I met Lestari in 1999. My first thoughts of her are her smile and laughter. No matter what mad-capped ideas I’d tell her about for my future Indonesian plans she’d always just say; “Yes that’s great, you can do it!!!!!” Since ACICIS I have continued on to do primate research in Kalimantan, and when I wanted to find a counterpart from Fakultas Kehutanan, Lestari was again a wealth of information. Each time I have managed to get back to Yogya over the years, she was always keen to catch up, swap stories, and share lots of laughs. She had that special warmth you are drawn back to, and will be sadly missed.
Kate Louden My sincere condolences to Lestari’s family and friends in Yogya. The news was such a shock to me. Lestari is such a part of my memories of Yogya, that I can’t really imagine going back and not seeing her. I will always remember Lestari as one of the kindest and most giving people that I have ever met, and I feel so lucky to have known her. My heart goes out to the students in Yogya at the moment, to the ACICIS staff, and of course to Lestari’s family and friends.
Aidan Hoy My condolences to Lestari’s family and the ACICIS staff. While so many people move on from Jogja after your semester, Lestari was the one person you could always count on seeing again. She was a huge part of the ACICIS experience and returning to Jogja won’t be the same again. Lestari was a great friend and wonderful human being.
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Alistair Welsh I’m sorry to hear the bad news. Although I never met Lestari I had heard quite a bit about her over the years and it was a shock for me. I’m sure students and staff who had worked with her will be shaken by the sad news, not to mention her family. My condolences to those of you who knew Lestari.
Ele Williams It is just awful news about Lestari- she was such a generous and incredible friend to everyone.
David Armstrong In every end of semester student survey Lestari was always rated the highest of anyone at ACICIS. Always. She touched so many with her unselfish friendship.
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Kate Weatherley If you haven’t already heard, I have some sad news that Lestari has passed away in Yogya, but I don’t have any details. She was so helpful to all anak ACICIS, and I am sure she will be sadly missed. What sad news to start Lebaran with.