Our welcome to the port of Jayapura on Monday was one I will always treasure. I had expected Asian Indonesians to do us the honours of welcoming us to Papua and was rather shocked at realising that my Papuan colleagues had organised an indigenous dancing group instead.
As the beating of the kundu or tifa drums reached us, I let tears flow for although I had not met any of these people before, the familiar music made me think that some of my relatives might be in amongst the welcoming party. The dance as well was so familiar, I grabbed the kundu from the ship and joined in the drumming and, later, the dancing.
After the ceremony, one of the dancers introduced himself and told me he was from Skuo, saying that we were indeed related. He had heard my Papuan colleagues call my name and was so excited to meet me, as he had already met most of my other family members. My great grandmother was a Papuan from Skuo which is just a few miles from the Indonesian border with Papua New Guinea, and not far from Jayapura.
Meeting the indigenous dancers and relatives meant a lot to me in joining this campaign to save the forests of this island. As an environmental advocate and activist, there is no border and not time to waste.
It’s about saving this beautiful last frontier on earth, the world’s third largest rainforest. It’s called the paradise forests of the Asian Pacific. It’s my home, too.
posted by Dorothy, campaigner, on board the Esperanza