It happens almost every day. Dozens of blaring motorcycle horns signal that another funeral procession is making its way up our hill on its way to the local cemetery.
My house helper E shakes her head as she watches the procession and declares, “Orang Papua suka mati.” Literally: Papuans like to die. What she means is: many Papuans seem to die unnecessarily.
She should know. Several years ago, her husband, a soldier, was up for a promotion. Then, mysteriously, he was found dead, presumably murdered by a man who was being passed up for the promotion.
There was no justice. No investigation. She got a small payout and was expected to move on with her life.
E’s story is one of many heartbreaking stories I’ve heard since moving to Papua three years ago. Young adults dying from AIDS. Teenage boys going on fatal drinking binges. A young girl succumbing to malnutrition.
It’s easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed by the complexity of the issues facing Papuans.
With MAF, we are able to offer a small ray of hope to help mitigate “orang Papua suka mati.” Just last week, a friend texted me: “We need a medevac out of our village – who do we call?”
I was able to direct her to the right people, and the next day, an MAF pilot picked up Mika, a young boy who fell out of a tree and was impaled by a piece of wood, which had punctured his intestines. He needed surgery at a city hospital to survive, which he was able to get thanks to MAF. A week later, my husband David flew him home.
“Thank a sovereign God who is in control of the details of our lives,” my friend wrote in an email to MAF staff. “His plan was not to take Mika’s life and he used you to play a part in that.”