To trace the journey for a a typical student from the interior of Papua, Indonesia, take a minute to orient yourself to the world map below. Focus your attention on South East Asia..
West Papua is on the furthest east island in the Indonesian archipelago. It is the most remote and resource-rich island in Indonesia and has remained largely undeveloped due to lack of infrastructure and extremely rigorous terrain. People living in the mountainous interior region have very little, if any, opportunity to pursue education. With the outside world rushing in at an alarming pace, many interior peoples are marganalized and unequipped to step in to leadership positions to guide their own village, people group, province, or nation. Sekolah Papua Harapan exists to empower the people of Papua, particularly those in the most remote contexts, to become leaders in their own communities, country, and world.
The only way to access remote interior villages is through missionary airplanes that can land on dirt and grass airstrips carved out of the side of limestone mountain peaks.
Families in many interior villages are desperate to find opportunities for their children to have access to education and are pleading for opportunities to send their children to Sekolah Papua Harapan. One of the greatest challenges for Sekolah Papua Harapan is determining which students it is possible to serve.
Most families living in the interior are subsistence farmers living in grass-roof homes. Sending their children to the coast for schooling is a dramatic change for the family, requiring significant sacrifices. Although parents can not afford tuition, they are asked to comit to visiting the coast once each year for one month to invest in the life of the school. In addition, they contribute toward the transportation costs of their children visiting their village during school breaks. The most significant sacrifice, however, is the separation that comes with sending their kids away to school. Papua Harapan is committed to working with families to help them stay connected and to provide excellent care to students as they are away from their loved ones.
Herson and five other children from the village of Silimo (3 boys and 3 girls) have been thriving at Papua Harapan since fall 2012. The trip from the village to the coastal campus of Papua Harapan brings many new experiences for these children: riding in cars for the first time, living with electricity, tasting ice cubes, learning of the concept of restaurants, seeing paved roads, two-story buildings, owning multiple pairs of clothes, sleeping on mattresses, tasting a diversity of food options (instead of the staple sweet potatoes and sweet potato greens).
When these children transition to life at Papua Harapan, they join other children who have come from similar remote village contexts as well as “day-school children” who live with their families in the coastal town of Sentani and commute each day.
It is a great responsibility and privilege for the staff at Sekolah Papua Harapan to care for each of these children and families.