As mentioned in the previous post about Papua, there’s a lot to be dismayed about the current situation and possibly the future of the unique culture of the island. And yet beneath the surface there’s a lot of positive things to be optimistic about.
As we moved through the community of farmers in the greater Baliem Valley we found many of them with their children either already in attendance at university or recently graduated. Many of those same graduates had moved back to Papua with the desire to contribute to changing the community for the better.
We heard stories of sons and daughters working either as teachers, community activists with the HIV/AIDs epidemic, or looking at degrees in business. When the next generation of a people want to move back and contribute for the better that’s an incredibly positive for the community.
That’s the situation with our friend Pak Luther and his children. His family is a reflection of community involvement in both the agricultural arena and also in the greater Papuan community at large. My wife and I enjoyed both he and his family’s hospitality in taking us around Wamena where we met farmers and heard about their children and the continual transformation of the communities as modernity pushed forward into the valley.
His oldest son’s dedication at a local Papuan clinic to help curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region reminded us of how crucial it is for people familiar with their own communities and cultural norms to educate on how to stem the spread of the virus. With another son at university and a beautiful and bright daughter still in high school waiting for her time to attend university we came away with hope for a better future of the Papuan people in Wamena and the rest of the province.