Story by A. Ruwidrijarto
I was asked by Susan of Mace Papua during that radio program: what feelings that got to you while nokening in those communities?
I replied, “It was great to noken with Monique, Adriana, Yune, Ayub, Spikdion, Frengki, Urbanus, Celsius, Anton, Kanisya, and also Roki, Naomi, Neni, and Andre.” I then shared that I experienced the beauty and richness of forest, rivers, swamp, the delicious food of sago, tubers, fish, banana, and so many more, and most importantly the friendliness, the opennes, the welcoming, the joyful, the artfulness of and the singing and dancing Papuans communities.
In short, I could feel the frequency of Love.
And a lot of singing.
In Sekolah Alam Gudang Arang, the Paradise Kids sang “Here Happy, There Happy” and the likes. They learned about plants and then sang, they learned about sago and then sang. They learned about birds and then sang. They sang and, generally speaking, were being noisy.
We invited the kids to spend the night camping with us in the yard of Yune and Ayub parents which is the Sekolah Alam. It was the first time ever for those kids to be in a tent, camping. Being 6 to 12 years old, they kept talking and shouting, and moving around. They just don’t understand that we older persons need 9 hours of sleep starting no later than 10 pm, ideally, or at least 4 hours if you really push it, you know, the fun of the evening.
But, of course, everything is fine. While evaluating the night, we said to ourselves that hopefully, those kids experience a great camping night that they will forever remember.
And carry with them throughout their years of growing and learning, adapting and addressing the environmental and social changes, for better or worse, that continue to happen in their land and communities, Papua.
I am pretty sure we’ve found and tuned into the frequency of the Paradise Kids. We later found that in addition to occasional going to school, every other afternoon taking part in Sekolah Alam, running after each other, throwing stuff at various living and non-living beings, chasing fish and swimming in the stream, and zillion things that kids do, they now plant trees too.
“One Tree A Day Keeps The Drought Away”
(Frengki, volunteer of Sekolah Alam Paradise, 2021)
At the same frequency, we also got to meet with a group of teenagers who are planting and growing different kinds of seeds. Through dancing, painting, and singing these tenth and eleventh graders of Merauke State High School are tending and growing the cultural garden of Papua. Their art and culture club, Bala Bala Blitz, is joined by roughly a third of all students (another third joined sports clubs, not sure about the rest) which means that with the young generation like them, the cultural Papua will not fade away without a fierce fight.
I fought hard the urge to get myself body painted like them members of Bala Bala Blitz. I surrendered but in the end, didn’t get it because we had dances to do right away when the night’s still young. But at least I can share a collection of videos here (click on a timestamp to watch the videos):
…To be continued with stories from Yanggandur, Tambat, and Poo communities, wherewhich I again found a lot of singing, the same frequency of love.