Travel Note: Earth Needs Crew, Not Just Passengers

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Maluku Expedition EcoNusa team are distributing supports for villagers in Maluku Islands. (Doc. EcoNusa)

Since last 22 October, EcoNusa team of 13 members has started a 2020 EcoNusa Maluku Expedition rolling. This is the second expedition following the one in September 2020 with the 15-day expedition of EcoNusa Covid-19 Response Raja Ampat visiting coastal villages and islands in Sorong and Raja Ampat.

This time, the team got to some remote villages across the coastal lines and small islets in West Papua, North Maluku and Maluku. The expedition brought its mission to provide backups and spirit to the remote Covid-19-affected communities in Maluku Island. The pandemic impact does not simply deal with the viral transmission threat. But, it also concerns with the other impacts to economy and food resilience.

The second mission focused on North Maluku and Maluku with their islets. Some of villages in Maluku Island are isolated areas. Perhaps some of them have forests that are on degradation risks due to large scale plantation and mining expansion. Perhaps, those far-off villages have minimum or even do not have health facilities at all.

EcoNusa Maluku Expedition team departed from Sorong, West Papua, with a proper boat and facilities for the mission. The team consisted of 2 medical doctors, 2 nurses, 4 agriculturists, 4 documentary persons, 8 logisticians and  2 administrators with 11 professional ship crews.

Read also: EcoNusa Maluku Expedition 2020, Solidarity for Maluku Islands

The guts of young volunteers on both expeditions are worthy to get credit. When others are busy at home with domestic activities, these youngsters were brave to touch the ground with high risk of Covid-19 transmission.

The volunteers considered that there so many communities that cried for assistance out there as they are isolated from health and other facilities. Despite the faraway spot from the virus epicentral, the lack of health facilities will make them vulnerable. Even the whole village will be susceptible to the pandemic when there is one with Covid-19 infection. 

One of the volunteers said that Covid-19 was no longer risk but fact of life to embrace. The virus will remain with human in a prolonging period or even for good. Covid-19 should not have halted us to lend a hand to each other, particularly the community that has no ‘superior’ facilities as that of urban life. However, immunity and rigid health protocol might serve as the weapon to stay productive. 

Health protocol was also strictly applied by all of the expedition team, particularly during the interaction with the local community. Viral transmission remains open. But, with the team sensible awareness with rigid health protocol will at least minimize the risk.

The expedition brought around 8 tons of stuffs consisting of farming equipment, medicine, masks mostly produced by women in Maluku and. Papua, health protective gear for medical worker to the community health centers, Covid-19 socialization materials and rapid test tools. The supports were donated by public and organization at national or international levels. 

In addition to the community support, EcoNusa also supported the local food resilience and economic recovery to the community. The activities also cover monitoring of forest, beach cleanup and documentation of local wisdom of the community living with natural forests and ocean in harmony. 

For 27 days, the EcoNusa Maluku Expedition planned to visit 25 villages in 7 regencies in 3 provinces, namely West Papua, North Maluku and Maluku. The expedition will travel through around 2,000 kilometers by sea. 

Hopefully the universe bestows its blessing through a good weather so the social support for coastal and forest communities in Maluku Island run well. May the earth will always be safeguarded, and the coastal and forest communities are protected from Covid-19. If earth is like a ship, human would have been the crew, not simply passenger. Passenger only waits for rescue. But, crew does the rescue. The earth in which we dwell needs the crews, not passengers. 

Bustar Maitar

CEO EcoNusa and Team Leader EcoNusa Maluku Expedition

Editor: Leo Wahyudi & V. Arnila Wulandani

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