living in papua

Posted by Pieter on October 04, 2008

When I was travelling in West-Papua (Indonesia) I visited the Baliem Valley. In that valley the Papuans live, a tribe/culture only discovered in the 1930's. Those people are completely different from Indonesians.

We went hiking there and for that we got ourself a guide for 5 days. We paid his fee in pieces, so after 2 days he got his first amount. The next day he showed up way too late and had red eyes. One of the carriers told us later he was having a hang over. That was weird to me, because alcohol is very expensive over there (it all has to be bought in by plane) and people are very poor. He showed me pictures of his wife, who lives deep deep in the valley in a straw hut and does the laundry in the river.

Later I learned he did this, because it doesn't matter how much money he brings back after his work. If he brings money the amount of money is shared over all the villagers. That is because everybody is taking care of eachother. So it was not very encouraging for him to bring money from work, because he wouldn't benefit too much himself from it.

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  • Ah, there we see how communism won't work, because people are selfish by nature.

    I heard similar stories from some friends who did projects in Central Africa. As soon as the workers got paid, they didn't come back. I really wonder whether it is a cultural thing (not to think ahead: not going to work means no next payment), or a wealth thing (I need this money now; what the situation will be like tomorrow, is unsure). I'd say the latter.

  • I did my nurse workexperience in a hospital at Samosir, Sumatra. I discovered the nurses were very lazy! After I while we knew why.

    Generally there are 2 groups in Sumatra. The pour and the rich. All the rich people have jobs in the government, all the pour people have a shop and grow foods. When you have a job in the government (like a nurse has), you will have a salary your whole life. Even if you get fired (they never do), you will still have an income. That's why the nurses are not motivated to work…
    This is my experience, ofcourse.

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