Skip to main content
Group News

Floating on Digoel River

By 5 November 2020No Comments

Picture: If the boat, which is essential for mobile health service, is broken, the boat can only be stranded by the river.

When we completed the mobile health service, we rushed back to the hospital. But despite being in a rush, we had to finish our dinner en route.

Most of the villages we visited are three hours away from the hospital, so we stopped briefly when we saw a suitable place.

The moment we saw a place to tie a boat, we cheered and shouted that we found a “river cage” or riverbank. After mooring the boat, we ate and rested, then continued our journey. We could feel happiness when we completed the mobile health service.

However, a strange thing happened on the day went back from Metto Village, Subur District in Subur. In fact, we already had a strange hunch right when we started our journey back after having some rest.

There seemed to be a problem with the longboat we took. When the engine stopped, we literally started floating on Digoel River. We looked around and found there were no villages, just us, a boat with a broken engine on the river, and a boat full of luggage. We really hoped there would be someone who could find us and willing to help us.

The river turned to be beautiful during sunset, but we were speechless looking at the scenery. As the beautiful scenery slowly disappeared, darkness soon came.

Boredom came over us, as if hours had passed. In fact, the boredom was even more unbearable for me, not knowing what will happen in the future.

A place where we can only hear sounds of nature. We heard a sound approaching us from afar. It turned out to be a sound from a boat’s engine. The small boat was getting closer and stopped, as if it knew what was inside our hearts. The man on the small boat seemed to understand well about engine. He took a look at our boat and said that there was a problem with the engine. Of course, it couldn’t be fixed on the river without any equipment or technicians.

We all discussed about what we should do, either wait for someone to rescue us or go to a village with a man we just met…… we asked the man, “Could you take us to the hospital,” and he immediately agreed.

By the time we started moving our luggage one by one to the small boat, rain started to fall. As our bodies and luggage became soaked due to the rain, our hearts felt even more urgency.

The boat became unstable probably because of too much weight. We rushed ourselves because many luggage had not been moved, but the boat’s engine finally went off. In the darkness, I could hear someone crying. That must be because of anxiety and fear. I also wanted to cry.

“Can we swim? Are there black snakes in Papua, waiting for us on the land?” I thought only God can help us this time. After being in confusion for so long, the engine managed to start. We all thanked Him.

However, there was another problem. We’ve started the engine a few times, and maybe this boat didn’t have enough gas to carry us. We wanted to get as close as possible to the hospital, but we couldn’t hope for that because we couldn’t put the man who was helping us in danger. In this situation, the best thing to do is to visit the nearest village to our location.

We found a village by the river with full of anxiety. The village was surrounded by grass during the day so it wasn’t visible. On the other hand, with a little light, we could see and visit the village at night. In fact, we did not know the name of the village when we arrived. With relief, we said, “Now we’re alive again,” the feeling of tiredness only passed by once. We decided to sleep or rest until dawn after talking with the villagers.

The villagers gave us a place to rest, so we laid down there, because we couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep with many thoughts filling my head, “Will we able to get to the hospital tomorrow? What about the damaged boat?”

A colleague who laid down beside me was already asleep. When I was about to force myself to sleep, after tossing and turning for a while, a roaring sound came from somewhere. Where did that sound come from? The sound drew closer. In silence, as far as I know, there was only speedboat that could make a roaring sound when you’re in a village, near the river.

I ran from my bed and headed outside. The boat that made the loud sound was anchored by the river. Turned out, the boat came to pick us up.

I immediately woke up the team who was already sleeping soundly. We got on the speedboat without knowing if it was a dream or a reality. Sitting on a boat, crossing through the cold wind, we were grateful to have gotten through the day with so many things. We also believe that what we experienced that day will be a memory for us in the future. When the dawn came, we could not forget our uneasiness that day while returning to our clinic, Asiki.

I vividly remembered a small hope that “someone would come to rescue us” and the anxious thought that filled my head for hours. However, life is a series of ups and downs. When the hope fails and disappears, a small seed of hope comes again, and when the hope is in vain, a helping hand will come to our side.

I once thought, how much time and money would people in Papua need to receive a better healthcare. Then I sighed thinking it wouldn’t be easy, but after floating on Digoel River, I decided not to give up.

Papua needs more health workers and more hospitals. Either way, for now, our clinic and I will look for and help the villagers. Because Papuans are also part of Indonesian people who must be able to enjoy and experience all the policies and rights as Indonesian citizens. But we know, all of that will take time to arrive in Papua because of its remote location. Papua is still waiting without losing hope.


Source :