Some people still think that Indonesians are colonizers to their fellow West Papuans. They keep accusing Indonesians of discrediting West Papuans. Even worse, they say that Indonesians are slow-genociding their West Papuans family. Good news is Indonesians never buy those baseless accusations.
Many Indonesians choose to refute those negative thoughts about them by taking real actions. There have been enormous number of young Indonesians that come to help build West Papua voluntarily.
They become teachers, health practitioners, and other social workers that help better West Papuans social conditions. They admit that Papua is still far from perfect. But they admit that Papua never stops developing and they want to be part of it!
Instead of spreading baseless accusations and negative thoughts like what some Kiwis keep doing, they choose to take real actions to help Papuans.
Here is a little story of Sigit Arifian. He tought young Kids in Pegunungan Bintang district in West Papua for more than 15 months. Hi finished teaching there last February.
Our team feels urged to spread this message to end the spread of negative and baseless accusation about Papua. We want to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.
Here you go:
“I’ve lived in the remote area of Papua (or West Papua as some West and NZ media refer) for a year, lived together with native papuan people there, so let me give you all a little picture of the real conditions in the remote area of West Papua.
One of the current problems is bad nutrition in Asmat area.
I am not a health issue person but I believe that malnutrition is not just a matter of lack of health workers or practitioners but it is the effects of poverty and low education.
Why is the problem of poverty and the low quality of education still not resolved until now? What are the challenges?
The first obstacle in Papua is the heavy terrain and difficult geographical conditions.
To reach people in the remote villages is very difficult, which we must pass through the mountains, across the sea, rivers and even swamps.
So the current government is recently trying to build infrastructure in order to open accessto difficult areas, like building and enlarging airports and harbors, initiating standardized fuel prices (the policy has already been in place but I admit there is ‘some things’ hindering the implementation).
First, the immediate thing I can tell is how I was witnessing the development in the district where I was teaching, which is at the border of Papua New Guinea. There is now new infrastructure built (by the government) like Puskesmas (Pusat Kesehatan Masyarakat – like PHO in NZ), a telecommunication tower, although not yet in operation and in the process of survey for solar power plants.
But it is all empty buildings without human resources to run, so the second constraint is that HR issue. West Papua lacks human resources ranging from health workers, engineers, teachers.
In my opinion, serving in West Papua is difficult if not you are not whole-hearted and just chasing money. For medical and health workers, serving in remote areas of Papua, they have to travel long distances, have to walk for hours and hours carrying necessary drugs and other medical supplies.
For teachers who teach in the the remote areas, they have to live with the lack of phone signal access, without electricity, transportation to the city is difficult, cost of living is expensive because the fuel can be 5 to 7 times more expensive than the normal price.
So do not be surprised in the remote areas of West Papua, the smallest currency is 5 thousand IDR, access to clean water is difficult because in some areas only rely on rainwater, people cannot bathe for days during the dry season, even in some areas, I can tell that both workers and native Papuans’ lives are consistently at stakes.
So many workers who do not feel comfortable to work here in West Papua and choose to quickly go home as soon as possible.”
Sigit can be contacted through his Instagram @sigit.arifian
Sigit’s story received outpouring of positive comments and support for him. Sigit himself is actually not a graduate of education, but a graduate of economics.
His work teaching in the remote area of West Papua, precisely in Pegunungan Bintang District, which is also close to Asmat, is under the program of Indonesia Mengajar.
Sigit left his professional career in order to explore and help youth and kids of West Papua and transfer knowledge to the children in Primary Elementary School of Pepera.
Currently, Sigit plans to publish a book about his teaching experience so that many people understand the conditions of West Papua and are moved to go help develop that area instead of spreading the baseless blame and accusations. (*)