Quietly hiding behind the dynamic scene of PTFI’s massive mining and milling operation, exists a different kind of operation. Its community investment program. PTFI is strongly committed toward preserving the unique culture of Papua’s indigenous people, while, at the same time, investing a substantial amount of time, money, resources, and man-power to promote more sustainable communities.
Last month, I was given the incredible opportunity of visiting one of the company’s community investment sites in Aroanop, a native Amungme village. Strikingly nestled in a remote area of the Sudirman mountain range, the village is only accessible by foot and helicopter. Five other women and I were escorted to the small village by Geoff Hocking, PTFI’s Senior Manager for Community Infrastructure and Development.
PTFI is continually working with the Amungme people to empower their coffee farmers and expand their coffee cultivation program (established in 1998). The fertile and nutrient-rich soil in the highlands provides excellent conditions for coffee plantations, but the rugged terrain and limited transportation makes it difficult for the farmers to deliver their harvested crops. Fortunately, Aroanop’s geographic location provides an ideal setting for an airstrip. Millions of dollars have already been spent flying equipment and supplies into the village, allowing for the necessary excavation and preparation of the site. When the airstrip is complete, it will be flanked by a plantation of 20,000 coffee trees.
In addition to the airstrip, construction of new bridges, buildings, and a clean water system is, also, taking place. The goal of the entire project is to provide the village with sustainable development that will promote better economic opportunities for its people and instill a sense of community pride and ownership. It’s an incredible project that will have profounding results.
Carol and me preparing for the chopper flight down to the village. The little Bell helicopters seat two pilots and eight passengers. Photo by Geoff Hocking
A group photo (Danella, Robin, Carol, Jody, me, and Rini) taken in the center of the landing strip. The landing strip runs vertically from this viewpoint; it begins at a small cliff (directly behind us) and gradually slopes up until it reaches a mountainous backdrop. Photo by Geoff Hocking
One of several deliveries made to the village each day. All of the equipment, materials, and building supplies for the project have been, and will continue to be, delivered by Bell helicopters. The large excavators, haul trucks, and compactor were dismantled in Tembagapura, flown to the village in pieces, and then reassembled on-site.
A traditional Amungme hut.
An inside view of the hut. As expected, it was very simple. The only items inside the hut were pillows, blankets, and a pot for cooking/heating water. The fire pit can be seen in the bottom left corner of the picture. It is used at night to keep the occupants warm.
A group of young kids playing on a dirt court. More modern-style homes can be seen in the background.
A quick picture with a group of kids before continuing our walk through the village.
This little girl was watching us with inquisitive and careful eyes as we walked past her. I noticed that she was holding something in her hand, so I kindly motioned her to show me what it was. She walked out of her hiding spot and lifted the possession up to her shoulder.
It’s not every day (except in Papua) that you see a young girl (maybe 5 or 6-years-old) handling a machete.
A wise, older member of the village.
Propagated coffee trees growing in a makeshift greenhouse.
This is my absolute favorite picture from the trip. As soon as the helicopter returned to pick us up, kids from all directions started running into the meadow to watch it land. They remained in their spots as we departed, and spiritedly waved good-bye as we lifted up and flew away.
A final picture of the group before boarding the chopper and heading back to Tembagapura. Photo by Geoff Hocking
To learn more about PTFI’s community investment projects in Indonesia, click on the following links:
PTFI Community Development – Indonesia
Amungme Gold Coffee