door Kathrin Pape
I joined the SDSP Volunteer Program from May 2013 till October 2013 and never regret my decision. I was given the opportunity to be involved with projects in a hands-on manner, which was very educational and I was touched by the warm hearts and kindness of the Papuan people. The lush rainforests, rivers, beaches, islands and remote villages were the best setting which I could imagine for my Volunteering position and the local languages and cultures of the different areas in West Papua could be explored during my regular project visits in the inland.
Through volunteering in Papua, in the most underprivileged places you may ever be exposed to, will definitely give you the maturity, integrity, motivation and passion you need to become successful in any future job positions. I had the possibility to work independently on my own, or from the SDSP given, projects together with the local community. This sometimes came along with cultural or language misunderstandings, but there was always someone from the SDSP available to contact if I had any issues. Every day I had to practice my Indonesian language which improved a lot during these 5 months of daily practice.
In the beginning I had some doubts about going to Papua alone, but as I lived together with a teacher and on the compound from the boarding house and the Susteran, my concerns got washed away really fast. I enjoyed living together with the high school girls and they took their chance to ask a lot about the daily life in Europe. But it’s not just them who got an insight into another culture, I as well learned a lot during these months and I as always lived together with families in the inland I got an deep insight into the daily live, culture and problems a family has to face when living in Papua.
I also learned a lot about myself, developing important skills that will be invaluable to me in my future career. Most importantly, I improved my research, public speaking, and organisational skills under difficult circumstances. I learned to manage independently with limited resources in a sometimes unstructured environment as well as having always a „Plan B“ if things don’t work out as they were planned (flight delays because of bad weather conditions, closed roads; just two name two of the many things that could happen in Papua 🙂
When you are used to western living conditions and a structured and well organised surrounding you will sometimes have to struggle in Papua – anyway it will be an experience you will grow with and as soon as you let go from the feeling that you have to control the situation you can enjoy the daily life of the local people and get experiences you will still tell your grandchildren. For me it will be hard to leave West Papua which besides the many problems this area has to face is such a lovely place with wilderness, a spectacular bird and marine life, lived traditions and last but not least these amazing people who make West Papua such a special place on the earth.
If you have any questions or if you would like to get more information about being a Volunteer with the SDSP – don’t hesitate to contact me via email : firstname.lastname@example.org