Asia West Pacific

The Blanket Game: Children Get To Know Each Other in the Nduga Armed Conflict

Sekum village, Muliama District, Jayawijaya, West Papua

~ narrated by Dorthea Rumere, Jayapura, recorded by Petrus


On January 7, 2019, Thea and a team from LEKAT (Institute for Capacity Building and Strengthening) in Jayapura visited conflict refugee children from Nduga district. They live in the Sekum Village, Muliama Sub-District of the Jayawijaya Regency. Entering the refugee territory is difficult and requires a special government permit. We understand their feelings of isolation. Arriving at the location we met with the priest, our contact person, and community members. We came with 500 thick blankets, 100 kg of rice and snacks for the children.

There were around 45,000 refugees displaced by the conflict in Nduga from eight sub-districts namely Mapenduma, Kagayam, Mugi, Mom, Yall, Jirkuri, Yigi and Mbua. They spread to Lanny Jaya, Jayawijaya, Mimika, Asmat and Jayapura (CNN Indonesia, July 31,2019).

After giving an explanation to several officials, we were welcomed to do activities with the children. There were around 31 children and several parents who participated in the activities. We started by sitting in a circle and stopping, introducing our names, and playing the blanket game, then closing. Language becomes one of the difficulties in the activities with children, since Papua has hundreds of local languages. The atmosphere still felt stiff because this was the first visit. The children were silent when asked questions. But they would play with the four balls we distributed. They were very fond of playing soccer. The team thought of building a 1000 ball movement for Nduga conflict refugee children.

We hope to be able to reach out to the Papuan people, especially the children, as they face some of the worst, most isolated violence in the world. Besides all the other barriers, it is expensive reaching to Papua. We offer our time, if some of you would offer the funds to make it possible to bring them life-changing visits, contact with the world, and skills to work for peace and justice. Please learn about West Papua, share their story, and donate if you can to: Friends Peace Teams-AWP, 1001 Park Ave, St Louis, MO 63104.