11/18/2011, 00.00
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Catholic laity helping others in a mission to Indonesia’s far east

by Mathias Hariyadi
The KBKK, a lay charity and humanitarian organisation, spent two weeks among the indigenous people of the diocese of Agats-Timika, one of the remotest and poorest in the country. Local bishop is grateful for the help provided, medical care included.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Kelompok Bakti Kasih Kemanusiaan (KBKK), a lay Catholic humanitarian group, carried out a two-week mission among indigenous communities in Agats, eastern Indonesia. Twenty-four lay people with a mixed professional background performed pastoral and humanitarian work in one of the country’s remotest and most neglected dioceses, Agats-Timika, some nine hours by plane from Jakarta, plus an hour by small boat.

Ingrid Barata headed the mission. Speaking to AsiaNews, she said the group included people from different provinces. The trip to Agats was a tense one. Timika, the town closest to Agats, and its only point of access, was recently racked by mass demonstrations by miners working for the Freeport Company.

Unknown gunmen fired on protesters, killing a number of them. “We were held back at the airport for security reasons until things quieted down. They eventually flew us to our destination on small planes,” said former Jesuit Abdi Susanto, who also took part in the mission.

The situation was still tense because of political unrest in Timika and Jayapura. The group was forced to split up, stopping at different airports for security reasons and because of fuel shortages.

After 24 hours, they all made it to their destination, in the heart of the Papuan jungle, a place where people lead a simple life, based on fishing, hunting and gathering. Because the land is swampy and has no drinking water, rainwater must be collected in big tanks for human consumption.

The humanitarian mission focused on four different areas, far from Agats. “At least three or four hours of navigation on small boats were needed to reach our destination,” Suparman Surjadi, from Bogor, told AsiaNews.

In the two-week period, natives were provided with necessities, as well as medical and health care, Mgr Aloysius Murwito, OFM, said as he praised the group for its work. “I am grateful to God that in Indonesia the Church has the KBKK, which is committed to serving others.”

To date, the KBKK has carried out missions in 24 Indonesian dioceses, offering aid to areas affected by natural disasters.
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