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Community Conversations Ignited Hopes for Papua

Updated: Mar 6

Di sana pulauku

Yang kupuja s’lalu

Tanah Papua pulau indah

Hutan dan lautmu

Yang membisu s’lalu

Cendrawasih burung emas

©Yudha Bhismaya/PVI Documentation/TOF Namblong/2024

Walk to the corners of Papua, and you will hear the song “Tanah Papua” being sung. The melancholic melody also lightened up one of Photovoices International’s (PVI) Training of Facilitators sessions, that was held in Isyo Hills, Rhepang Muaif Village, Nimbokrang District, Jayapura Regency, on January 22-29, 2024.

Sung by the participants, that opening lyrics instantly take you to the beauty of the easternmost island of Indonesia. An island that is rich with its natural beauty and its diverse cultures, from the mountainous areas to the coastline, holding stories of humanity for centuries. This diversity is also reflected in the discussions with 19 participants from Jayapura and Manokwari.

The participants themselves are diverse, involving individuals aged 16 to 50s, representing seven non-profit and community-based organizations in Papua. The training was to introduce the Photovoices approach and how they would implement it in their community engagement and outreach within their working program.

Over the course of the 8-day training, they shared knowledge and experience. The seven organizations are Suara Grina, the Indigenous Women’s Organization (Organisasi Perempuan Adat/ORPA), Indigenous People’s Enterprise (Badan Usaha Milik Masyarakat Adat/BUMMA), Mitra BUMMA, Institute of Empowering Study for Women and Children Papua (Lembaga Pengkajian Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Anak Papua/LP3AP), Limited Associaton for Study and Empowerment of Indigenous Papuan Communities (Perkumpulan Terbatas untuk Pengkajian, Pemberdayaan Masyarakat Adat Papua (PTPPMA), and Bentara Papua. The sharing sessions were one of the most important phases to enrich their understanding and develop positions on issues they deemed important.

Group discussions. Mapping issues and group critical discussions are important phases in every Photovoices project. The community decides on the issues they deemed important to their lives, and through visual images and narratives, articulate their hopes and perspectives. ©Yudha Bhismaya/PVI

Based on the community perspective, they identified five categories of issues: gender equality, cultural preservation, environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and human resources empowerment. Divided into five groups, each group explored visual images and narratives to articulate their perspectives, detailed specifically with their hopes.

“I think this method is quite strategic. Typically, we use policy briefs to conduct campaigns or advocacy. With the concept of Photovoices International, we learn that through photos, we can inspire and influence policy makers to acknowledge issues that have yet to be heard directly from those who have experienced violence or those who are marginalized,” said Siti Akmianti, Director of LP3AP.

Targeted at facilitators, community organizers and community outreach persons, the training materials are designed to stimulate critical thinking among participants, many of whom are being exposed to new issues. Simon Alvin Yoshua, a participant from Suara Grina, for instance, admitted that this was the first time he acknowledged gender issues. 

Suara Grina, a community journalist group focused on cultural preservation in the Grime Nawa Valley, Jayapura Regency, will subsequently implement this Photovoices approach in collaboration with PVI in Imsar Village, Namblong District, Jayapura Regency.

Taking pictures. For some participants of the Photovoices Training of Facilitators in Namblong, Jayapura, it was the first time to hold a camera. During training, they learned photography techniques and camera features, and practiced taking photos in the surrounding area. ©Yudha Bhismaya/PVI

Having discussions, sharing hopes and dreams with the 19 participants in the beginning of 2024 is like igniting a new spirit. Surrounded by the harmonious sound of the chirping birds around Isyo Hills. A harmony that indicates the forest around it is still preserved. And it breathes an air of hope.


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