Ironic Survival

Alex Mahuze is a Malind tribesman and a sago farmer in Merauke. His clan has lived in harmony with nature for generations. The arrival of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) program has forced him to earn money through other means, which ironically harms the environment. He lost his lands and his culture is threatened, but Alex fights on.

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Jerry Can Coconuts

The Malind tribe in Merauke is proud of its ecological traditions – each clan in the tribe is responsible for protecting a natural element. The Moiwend clan is responsible for the coconut trees and their fruit. However, in recent times Malind youth have started using coconut plants to make alcohol. The home-made drinks – which are much cheaper to buy than beer and spirits – have added to the town’s problems. Now, some Malind elders are calling for the reinstatement of customary laws that would punish those who make use of coconuts in this way in order to save their tradition and their community.

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What Mama Kasmira Wants

A Papuan cocoa farmer from the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border region had to leave her farm to work for a palm plantation when the village elders made a deal with a Rajawali Group company to sell her land. Every day Kasmira works hard under the boiling hot sun, clearing bushes for the plantation. However, she has great hopes for her three children.

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Left To Survive

Dominikus Mesas lives in the Keerom District, near the northern border of West Papua and Papua New Guinea. While other villagers succumbed to selling their lands to palm plantation companies, he is resilient in keeping his own lands and urges others to do the same.

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The Last Hunter

In 1990 the Wasur National Park in Merauke was made to protect the biodiversity and empower the local inhabitants. In 2012 there are very few animals left in the park. Leo Wambitman, a hunter who lives in the Yanggandur village, is on the verge of giving up his bow and arrow to sell timber instead.

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Awin Meke

Papuan women traders struggle to sell their goods in modern Jayapura. In their first fight, the women won a space to set up shop. However, local city administrators backed out of their promise to support them by opening a competing market, run by non-Papuans, which sells the same goods. ‘Awin’ is ‘mother’ in the Biak language, and ‘meke’ means ‘belonging’ in the Wamena language, so the mamas refer to ‘awin meke’ as ‘what belongs to us’.

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