People are now gradually starting to lift their heads and start to think about their futures after having everything torn away from them by the flash floods. It is very hard to imagine having everything you have built up and everything that you depend on to live day to day torn away from you in a matter of minutes.
Together with our partner Yapelin we were able to fund a Trauma Healing workshop in June 2019 where people were able to share stories of loss and understand the cycle of grief that comes with loosing people close to us, losing our life security, experiencing abuse or betrayals.
Since the floods hit, together with YAPELIN and YASUMAT we have been able to help over 1500 people with emergency physical needs such as food, water, shelter and space to mourn.
Net bag making
The next stage was to start help people put their lives back together and rebuild for the future. Initially YAPELIN has been able to set up 7 savings groups with men and women refugees to start saving money safely. They have provided small initial gifts to the groups with threads for making netbags that can then be sold. And the women have been very busy!! (see photo). The women have produced so many bags that Yapelin opened a shop to provide a location to sell them. There has also been bread and cake making workshops at the request of the various groups to enable them to earn cash on a daily basis.
Zera was sitting in her house at the foot of the mountain with her two daughters when the rains started to become heavier and heavier. She heard deafening and terrifying noises up the mountain and the sound of a river.
The lights went out and they were left in darkness. Within the space of 30 minutes their house was being engulfed in water and they escaped with barely on the clothes on their back. After struggling so find a safe place for several hours they finally made their way to safety at the gym of the nearby international school. She had lost all her livelihood, her pigs and two fish ponds as well as absolutely everything she owned. Together with about 500 others Zera and her daughters stayed almost a week in the gym and then moved to another location where they were for about 2 weeks.
In this space Zera started help organise the refugees into groups, represented them and started to help us with logistics. She was instrumental in starting the net bag groups and motivating people to move to new locations. As time has gone on she has increasingly become instrumental in making sure we respond according to peoples real needs and dreams.
So many others have been able to start to get to grips with their new reality and take steps to build their lives again because of Zera and others like her who found incredible courage amidst their own pain and loss.
Now Zera is working for our partner YAPELIN and continues to bring great new vision and energy to our team in Papua!
Since the floods Papua Partners , has been able to directly help over 1500 people and
indirectly help at least 4000 more. How was this possible?
Much of this was to do with the way we work with our partner Yapelin. We drew on our longstanding model of working directly with the local church leaders as well as involving the refugees themselves in identifying the key needs and equipped and empowered them in leading the response rather than we, or our partners deciding what was needed for them.
This meant that help quickly got to those who needed it and we were able to identify those who are vulnerable or who would often be forgotten, such as women, older people and those who were stuck in remoter locations.
Our partner Yapelin had good systems and passionate people in place who worked day and night to make sure people were fed, clothed and in a safe environment with things to do to keep them busy such as building, cleaning or sewing and cooking. All of this has helped the healing process.
Trauma healing workshop