Travel Note: Experiences from Community Service Study as Relawan Hutan Merdeka

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One of participants of Relawan Hutan Merdeka Community Service Study KPM) with the community of Konda District, South Sorong.  In the KPM, students provide various trainings for commodity value improvement with the locals. (EcoNusa/Arfan Sulaiman)

I am Nurmas Jihad Fahrurrozi, the English Department student of the University of Pendidikan Muhammadiyah (Unimuda) Sorong. When I wrote this piece, I am on the Relawan Hutan Merdeka Community Service Study (KPM) in collaboration with EcoNusa from 12 September to 26 October 2021.

I was located at Wamargege, Konda District, South Sorong Regency, West Papua, with nine colleague. I am the group leader. I want to tell a bit about my experience during the community service study.

Initially, representative of KPM team and I and field assistant lecturer had conducted initial survey to figure out the KPM location. We thought we would be deployed on the location. But on the D-day, we were not deployed as it was the first visit. Fortunately, my team and I felt comfortable at the new place.

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Two days after deployment, we and the lecturer conducted socialization to the villagers in Konda and Wamargege at South Sorong coastal areas. Both villages are attractive. They are neighbors but it is hard to unite them. Feeling shame is one of the reasons. As to the locals, when there is meeting involving both villages, the meeting would be only dominated by those with good public speaking. Some others who felt inferior would leave the meeting.

However, they are good and has collaborative spirit. When we create fence in front of our post, Wamargege villagers would voluntarily help us is it was the case when we made planting media. They seemed to revive from being behind and ignorance.

Similar thing also happened at Konda Village. When my team and I searched for soil and wood to create planting media, both young and old peoples helped us get soil from the garden of Konda Village Head. We also made a planting media from maleo bird nest. When we searched wood, mangrove fruit and coconut in the island, the locals helped show the location.

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There was unforgettable moment when we tried to search coconut in one of the islands. The sea was on low tide at the time. Our boat could not move as it was trapped on the mud. We eventually walked but our feet were buried deeply into the mud. We could hardly move from the knee-high mud. We were trapped.

But we did not give up. We made every effort to escape from mangrove mud. Slowly we walked while pushing out the boat. We finally made it after pushing the boat 100 meters away. It was unbelievable experience to us.

Few weeks before, the team and I were invited to a traditional event, Pondok Daun, from Yaben Tribe in Wamargege Village. The host served us very well with sago-made food. The cutleries were all made of nature. They used sago leave as plate or bowl, bamboo as glass or water bucket. There were many more cutleries from nature on that event.

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The event was held every year as the expression of gratitude to God for the crop bestowed to the community of Yaben. The culture of Yaben Tribe at Wamargege is remarkable.

With the KPM, we hope our junior would continue the KPM here with more innovative and creative ideas. The students are expected to improve the community in sustainable way while promoting good program and team. 

This is my experience during KPM that I want to share, hoping it could be better in the future.

Editor: Leo Wahyudi

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