Travel Note: The Last Village of Tanah Papua before Halmahera

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Der Islands from above. (Doc. EcoNusa/Kei Miyamoto)

On  23 October 2020 morning, we arrived at Der Village in Kofiau islands, Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua. We travelled for 12 hours from Sorong. The village is far from globally reputable tourism site, Raja Ampat. It does not mean that Der Village and Kofiau Island are less charming than the other parts of Raja Ampat, but there is limited access to these spots. Kofiau Island has beauty as that of in Raja Ampat. Kofiau has even many uniqueness. I will not tell a tale of Kofiau beauty, but I would rather call you to come and see yourself with admiration.

Previously, we paid a short visit to Solol Village in Salawati Island, Sagawin Strait. The villagers here were very enthusiastically welcoming our arrival. I paid a visit to see the progress of Agriculture Station built by a local NGO, Bentara Papua, a sister organization of EcoNusa. I established the organization 8 years ago to promote young Papuan generations to play their roles in the society. The station was built last year. Despite the 30% progress of construction, it has engaged in some activities. It is expected to become a learning center to the community on sustainable food security and forest management while reaching other villages in Salawati and Batanta Islands. I have big expectations in this station.

Our all-night long travel through tranquil water eventually came to the destination. It was early morning at Der Village. We were busy preparing some stuffs for that day activity. Unlike the 9-5 orderly work hours, activity on board follows daily life routine that all should comply with the agreed rules and schedules. The team members woke up at 6 in the morning. Some even had woken up earlier to enjoy their morning coffee and daybreak ambience on board. 

Some other team members cleaned up the ship. Some enjoyed their fried rice breakfast prepared by the chef. Some other prepared speedboat for mobilizing the team heading the villages. Our ship did not anchor on the port to minimize contact with land in prevention of Covid-19 transmission. From morning, the team and medial team prepared all the stuffs such as medicines and health consultation that would be brought to the village. Meanwhile, our documentation team prepared their equipment. 

After briefing at 8 in the morning, the team has readied to head Der Village. We held health consultation including Covid-19, free medical check for the community with basic medication if needed. We documented the daily life of the community including their interaction with local sources of life.

At nine, the doctor and our team have been busy with the peoples to address general knowledge on health and Covid-19 including health check. The activities ran up to lunch time before distributing protective health equipment to health worker at the community health center. During the session, there was discussion on how people survive during the pandemic in the past seven months without access to downtown. Our team documented also on the community sago production to meet their daily need.

The bustle ended up in the afternoon after lunch with the community. The team was back on board to the next journey to Halmahera Island. The journey will take around 20 hours. Hopefully the weather sides with us.  

Bustar Maitar

CEO EcoNusa & Tim Leader Ekspedisi Maluku EcoNusa

Editor: Leo Wahyudi

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