The people of Papua were colonized by the Dutch, who retained control after WWII by arguing that the Papuans were a separate ethnic group from the Indonesians. Since 1963 when Indonesia took control of Papua, a strong independence movement has persisted in Papua. West Papua has suffered long-standing violence, resource exploitation, and discrimination by the Indonesian government, supported by the U.S. and Australian governments. Persistent injustice, execution of leadership, and disruption of development pose cruel challenges for the people to meet the demands of their society and their dignity. Learning the skills and tools of peace and nonviolence invests in development while maintaining demands for justice, which peace requires.
Over half a century of violence touches the heart of anyone who gets to know the Papuans and their suffering. In 2015, Australian Friends offered scholarships to Papuan peace workers, who began attending the International Peace Training at Peace Place.
Rory began attending the International Peace Training at Peace Place in 2017, and Thea joined her in 2018 and 2019. They practiced skills to support the movement of nonviolence through the church in Jayapura. They connect the skills of peace and nonviolence to scripture study with a focus on nonviolence in the family, peace education among children, in the family, and the church, with a campaign for justice for women and children in Papua.
The Power of Goodness
Power of Goodness collects stories from the lives of real people that depict instructional moments in how to rely on the power of goodness in stressful situations and the amazing results of doing so. It aims to inspire readers, listeners, viewers, and participants to act with courage and bring goodness into their lives. The events are much shorter and can cater to a larger number of participants. The lead facilitator, who has participated in the Cultures of Peace Workshop (AVP series) and in the Power of Goodness orientation training, effectively runs these short events with a team.
Dorothea “Thea” Rumere shared with us that the training they had in Pati changed them a lot. Thea emphasized that they commit to share the tools learned in Pati with their community. In 2018, Thea and Rory also did the Power of Goodness orientation training with Nadine and the North Caucasus team in Pati, Indonesia.
In Yoboi, Thea introduced peace tools like stopping and good listening to the children. She witnessed how they changed and settled in themselves. This experience also gave them motivation to continue the practice and share it with their family and friends.
Beginning of 2020, the West Papuan team started communicating more often with Friends Peace Teams. They were asking for support in terms of crafting agendas for mini-workshops. Thea also registered for the Online Cultures of Peace Facilitators’ Training held every two weeks. However, lack of internet access and lockdown restrictions deterred her from continuing.
As a way forward, Kins held consultation chats with her over WhatsApp and virtually when possible. They decided to support Thea to work with children. Thea wanted to do Power of Goodness events in two places: Yoboi, a rural area where she had already introduced the peace tools; and Jayapura, an urban area in Rory’s neighborhood.
To move forward, we decided to treat the Power of Goodness events as an experiment to explore ways to work together more closely. We will help Thea secure a good internet connection so we can communicate more reliably. She needs support in adapting the Power of Goodness agendas to the situation of the pandemic. Kins and Thea have a support call weekly, every Tuesday at 1 pm Jayapura time. We initially agreed that she and the team would organize six Power of Goodness events. Friends Peace Teams will provide a small stipend to her for organizing.