It has been about 30 years since Annet Bakker, donor of Hapin, traveled through Indonesia with a friend. Of course, a visit to Papua could not be missing. Even now, the connection with the island and its inhabitants remains. Around her neck, there hangs a matabia. Sometimes people ask questions about this. Then Annet likes to tell about her travels and the history of the Papuans.
Annet: “My father spent his military service in various places in Papua. He was soon the only one in his group to master the Indonesian language. This made it easy for him to make contact with the Papuans. Years later we traveled to Papua together. I saw other travelers handing out things to the Papuans. I found that difficult because it creates an unequal relationship. My father did this differently: he stood among the Papuan men, showed interest, and exchanged items that could be of use to them. I always remembered this. It is important that we treat the Papuans with respect and see them as our equals. It is remarkable to see how friendly the Papuans are, despite everything they are going through.
During my second visit to Papua, I was introduced to Asmat students who were committed to preserving their heritage. As a teacher I know how important education is for the development of young people. That is why I have been supporting Hapin’s scholarship program for quite some time now.
Although I have not traveled back since then, Papua has always kept my interest. Our voice in the Netherlands and internationally is small, that feels unfair. But above all I wish for the Papuans to have a place of their own without anyone telling them how to live their lives. They are a proud people with a special character, I hope that this will be preserved. ”