Our first visit to Manokwari, Irian Jaya.


We first visited Manokwari, Irian Jaya September 19-26, 1999 for MCC Indonesia annual planning meetings. It was our chance to meet the Irian Jaya Mennonite Central Committee team. We took the train to Jakarta.

We were accompanied on the trip from Jakarta by Clair Brenneman (co-program director of MCC Indonesia) and Laura Meitzner (from the Irian Jaya team). We flew from Jakarta to Ujung Pandang in south Sulawesi, then on to Kendari in East Sulawesi, then to Sorong, Irian Jaya. The Sorong airport is on a small island which you reach by a 30 minute ride in what amounts to a dugout canoe. After that boat ride we embarked on the inter-island ferry KM Ciremai at Sorong for a trip around the bird's head to Manokwari. The ship left after a long loading process at 9 P.M. We managed to get a 2d class cabin and slept well, being awakened by the last call to breakfast at 7:30 the next morning. The ship had something like 4,000 passengers on it (more than originally planned, I'd say). People slept everywhere on the deck, surrounded by their belongings.

When we docked we were greeted by this banner which has the illegal Free Papua flag and says: "Kami masyarakat Papua di Kota Manokwari menolak pengungsi dari Ambon dan Tim Tim." Translated: We the community of Papua in the city of Manokwari reject refugees from Ambon and East Timor. On the dock a large group of locals forcibly checked the identification cards of anyone they suspected of being a refugee and wouldn't let them land. They let us through.

We were met by Jim Dontje, Jeff Yoder, and the Dontje Lindell children Isaac, Audrey and Halla. All in all the unloading process was much more orderly than the loading had been.

We stayed at Laura Meitzner's house, which is a wood Manado style house on tall stilts. Here you see Tati Srihartono, Laura M's counterpart, staffer Meri Harewan, pembantus Lena Waropen and Domi Rumbruren on Laura M's steps with the Dontje Lindell girls.

Most of the MCC Irian Jaya team (adults only) plus Clair Brenneman and Clare Ann. Expats sort of clockwise from the left: Laura Lindell, Laura Meitzner, Clair Brenneman, Jim Dontje, Clare Ann, and Jeff Yoder. National staff sort of clockwise from the left: Since Aidore (community development worker), M. Marisan (water technician), Wempi Woof (driver), Nico Windesy (Jeff's counterpart, involved in both community development and water projects), Meri Harewan (community development worker), and Tati Srihartono (Laura M's counterpart). Ruddy Karubaba missed the picture. He does administrative work.

Pineapple growing in the yard.

The Dontje/Lindell house from Laura M's porch. The street is on the other side of the house. Jeff lives the other direction a short distance.

Ambon variety bananas getting ready in the yard.

Laura M in her kitchen.

The tree house/slide and chicken coop live together under this tree.

Our planning meetings went from Monday through Friday noon. Friday afternoon the three of us from Java went to the beach with the Dontje/Lindell family. We drove past the harbor just as another ferry was docking. Things didn't look right and we realized there was a heavy police presence and lots fewer people than when we arrived. When the ship docked the group trying to reject refugees were confronted by the police and an ugly clash began. It spiraled out of control and the police began shooting into the air. We were back home when the shooting began and could hear it from about 2 km away. Shooting into the air didn't end it and by nightfall three people had been shot, one killed. We didn't know this and went into town to eat supper. Crowds everywhere. Trash and rocks in the streets. We finally went home and ate leftovers. The MCC houses are above the town. The next morning crowds began going by the house headed up the hill carrying rocks. They burned the police station about 100 yards from the house. Several homes and businesses owned by police were also burned on either side of the MCC houses. The crowd went back down the hill and the burning of government buildings continued. There were also more people injured by shooting. This picture was taken after things in our neighborhood calmed down some. I am standing in the street in front of the Dontje/Lindell house looking up the hill. Banana trees were cut to block the street. Where people are standing at the top of the picture is opposite the burned police station.

This is looking down the hill. The large rocks were also road blocks.

We were scheduled to fly out Sunday morning. There was much speculation that the plane wouldn't come, but it did.

The airport was guarded by a small group of soldiers. The soldiers had come out late on Saturday and order seemed to return.

Clair Brenneman and Jim Dontje.

The plane actually came early. We had been called at home to be early, and left before the scheduled departure time. Laura M. went with us on the first leg of her trip home to Pennsylvania for home leave.

The Twin Otter was just as cozy as it looked.

Back in Ujung Pandang a hermit crab scuttled past my foot as I sat inside the terminal. We flew all the way this time. First east to the island of Biak, then to Ujung Pandang, then to Surabaya on Java and home to Yogyakarta. We were home for supper. We plan to spend three weeks in Irian Jaya in January.


Prepared by Duane Ruth-Heffelbower. Last modified September 28, 1999.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] visitors since September 27, 1999.

Back to main Indonesia images page.