Monthly Archives: May 2011

TNI chief supports literacy program in Papua hinterland

“The eradication of illiteracy program in Papua must be continued to help villagers be able to read and write”

Chief of the National Defense Forces (TNI) Admiral Agus Suhartono has fully supported the involvement of the Military Regional Command (Kodam) XVII/Cenderawasih in the literacy program in the hinterland of Papua.

The eradication of illiteracy program in Papua must be continued to help villagers be able to read and write, Admiral Agus Suhartono said here Saturday.

“The program has been implemented since few months ago by Kodam Cenderawasih, and it`s still going on. I fully support the program to help the local people,” he said.

The program could be implemented by mobilizing `smart house`, `smart car`, and `smart motorcycle` by involving TNI personnel in the region.

In Papua, where the geographical condition is very hard with mountains, hills, and valleys, a connectivity of inter-regions is very much needed, he said.

The development of inter-region connectivity is crucial to boost the economic activities in Papua, he added.

TNI has equipped its personnel being assigned in the remote areas of Papua with transportation and communication facilities such as helicopters and phones.

In addition to the literacy program, TNI also supports other programs such as the family planning in Papua, according to Admiral Agus.

The TNI chief and National Police Chief General Timur Pradopo are on a working visit in Timika for three days, from Friday (May 13) to Sunday (May 15).

On the first day, they visited PT Freeport Indonesia and Grasberg Tembagapura open mining area.

In the evening, they held a dialog with local officials and prominent figures in Timika.

On Sunday, they went to Merauke and met TNI officers guarding the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. From Merauke, they will go to Jayapura, the capital of Papua, Indonesia`s eastern most province.

Source: Antara News

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Keeping Kamoro Art Alive

“Carving is a big part of the tribe’s traditional culture.”

When the woodcarvers of Papua’s Kamoro tribe look at a piece of timber, they see more than just a block of wood. They see a potential work of art.

“When I see a piece of wood, I always try to imagine what my wemame [statue] is going to look like,” said Vincent Maopeyauta.

The 43-year-old and two of his fellow tribesmen, Leo Wawkateyaw and Yohanes Matameka, were in Jakarta for the opening of the Jakarta Kamoro Art Gallery in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

The three men are members of the semi-nomadic Kamoro tribe, which lives in a 200-kilometer stretch along the south coast of West Papua, in the lowlands surrounding the snow-capped mountains and glaciers of the Jayawijaya range.

The entire tribe consists of around 18,000 people, spread out among villages of 2,000 to 5,000 residents. The Kamoro are hunters and gatherers who depend on the seashore, mangrove swamps and tropical rainforests for their livelihoods.

Carving, which most Kamoro boys learn at a very young age, is a big part of the tribe’s traditional culture.

“Without woodcarving, I wouldn’t know what to do with my life,” said 48-year-old Leo.

While he believes that the best woodcarvers are born, not made, Leo said he learned the craft from his father.

“If he’s good, a boy can make good wood pieces immediately, just by watching his elders,” said Leo as he put the final touches on a carving of a man and a cockatoo — a piece he completed in less than a day.

According to Kalman Muller, a Hungarian-born American who has lived with the Kamoro tribe for more than 15 years, woodcarving is an important aspect of the tribe’s culture, especially for men.

Muller said learning to create ceremonial sculptures out of wood was a symbol of initiation into adulthood for Kamoro boys. It help them transition from the world of femininity, where they are reliant on their mothers, to the adult world of maturity and responsibility.

Muller, who works for the mining giant Freeport Indonesia, is committed to helping the Kamoro people distribute and sell their artwork to a wider market so the tribesmen can earn some extra money.

Aside from the cash the carvings can generate for Kamoro communities, Muller said he hoped to encourage the carvers to be proud of their cultural heritage.

All Kamoro men are able to produce carvings of various sizes and functions. Almost all of their villages feature mbitoro totem poles, used for initiation ceremonies. Other typical carvings include yamate shields, otekapa walking sticks and wemawe human figures, usually made to represent their ancestors.

The tribesmen’s designs are mostly inspired by nature. In addition to humans, they often depict birds and crocodiles. Many of the carvings symbolically represent stories from Kamoro history and folklore.

One such piece on display at the Jakarta Kamoro Art Gallery is a yamate shield, created by Yohanes, which tells the story of the time when his village was appointed the capital city of Mimika district. The design consists of a chain, symbolizing Kamoro kinship, a bird flying with an eme drum in its beak and three human figures dancing by the village’s entrance gate to celebrate its connection to the outside world.

In the spirit of openness, Vincent, Leo and Yohanes shared some of the customs of their village with visitors at the gallery’s opening last week.

Dressed in sago-bark skirts and cassowary-feather headdresses and decorated with white chalk, the trio performed a traditional dance and demonstrated their carving skills.

Speaking at the event, Muller said woodcarving used to be an integral part of the traditional religion for the Kamoro people, but many of their indigenous beliefs and practices were lost due to the influence of the Catholic church.

Muller wants to help preserve the remaining practices of the tribe, not just by creating a market for their woodcraft, but also by encouraging formal education.

“At first, their woodcraft did not have good selling points,” Muller said, adding that it took some time to develop a market for the art.

Under his supervision, about 300 woodcarvers are now producing pieces designed to have broader appeal.

Even during their visit to Jakarta, the woodcarvers remained totally committed to their craft. Vincent said he never went a day without working on a sculpture.

Muller said most Kamoro people were content with their lives and were not interested in chasing “success” the way people do in big cities.

“Sure, you get jealous when your neighbor gets a TV a few inches bigger than yours, but that is not a big deal [for the Kamoro],” he said.

While outsiders may think the Kamoro live in poverty, Muller said members of the tribe themselves believe they live a good life. They appreciate family ties as an eternal bond that helps them throughout life. They define luxury as extra money to buy flashlights, batteries or fuel. Most of the time, they just eat the fish they catch and the fruits and vegetables they plant.

As for Leo and friends, they are happy enough to know their woodcarving skills are appreciated by the people who are buying their creations.

Source: Jakarta Globe

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Australia supports efforts in developing Papua and West Papua provinces

Australia’s commitment to supporting the development in Papua and West Papua provinces was further strengthened this week by visiting Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr. Greg Moriarty.

Mr Moriarty witnessed a signing, between Papua Governor, Mr. Barnabas Suebu, and West Papua Governor, Mr. Abraham O. Atururi, for a new Australian government-funded program to improve health, education and infrastructure in the two provinces.

“This new program shows Australia’s continued commitment to support the development in the most-eastern Indonesia’s provinces,” said Mr. Moriarty. “We are working with the Indonesian Government, the provincial governments and local governments to achieve lasting development in both the Papua and West Papua provinces,” said Mr. Moriarty.

The Ambassador visited Yowari hospital and a nearby health centre, where the Australian Government is working to improve care and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS.

“HIV prevention and adequate healthcare for those living with HIV/AIDS in Papua and West Papua provinces has become a key focus for Australia as reported cases in the region are above the national Indonesian average,” said Mr. Moriarty.

The Ambassador also met teachers and students at Maripi Primary School, which is now providing a quality education as a result of Australia’s development assistance.

“There are many challenges to improving education quality in Papua and West Papua provinces, including diverse geography, low population density and the remoteness of villages,” said Mr. Moriarty.

“Australia is pleased to be working with UNICEF to support education in Papua and West Papua provinces. This education program gives children in some of the poorest and most remote areas the opportunity to receive quality schooling,” said Mr Moriarty.

The Ambassador also visited rural communities to view the work of local facilitators supported by Australian Government assistance through the PNPM RESPEK program. These facilitators help communities identify priority issues and build basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges and wells. Australia will provide an estimated A$17 million in development assistance to the provinces in 2010-11.(wpnn)

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Australia supports Indonesia integrity over Papua

Besides the Netherlands, the support for the Republic of Indonesia integrity in Papua comes from Australia. Australia strongly opposes all forms of separatism movements in Indonesia.

“As part of Indonesia, Papua is final and cannot be separated.” Australian Defense Attaché for Indonesia Colonel John Gould told the press on Tuesday, when visiting Indonesia Military Regional Command or known as KodamXVII/Cendrawasih in Jayapura.

The purpose of the visit is to increase military and security cooperation between two countries.(wpnn)

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Govt to focus childhood education program in Papua

“Not only to teach children how to read and write, but also instill them with national ideology”

The Education Ministry and the Indonesian army signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday an early childhood education program to remote areas.

Education Minister Muhammad Nuh said the collaboration was crucial in erasing illiteracy among children in the country’s remote areas.

“The purpose of sending the army is not only to teach children how to read and write, but also instill them with national ideology,” he said, adding that this was important in the fight against rising radicalism in the country.

The program will be conducted from June 1 to 21 in 61 districts and towns, 71 subdistricts and 112 villages across the country. The program will be carried out by 61 different task groups, each consisting of 150 army personnel.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Toisutta said the army would focus their activities in the border areas of Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara and Papua provinces.

“Not only are border areas dangerous, but they do not have enough human resources to educate their children,” he said.

Source: Jakarta Globe

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