Sendawi, winds of life
“Sendawi” means “The wind blows.” For Malind people, Sendawi always gives freshness, happiness, calm and life. I have experienced this when I and several villagers from Bibikem walked on foot from Bibikem village to Woboyu village. The journey passed through swamps, jungles and zafana. By afternoon, around 16:00 Papua time, we had walked to the middle of Zafana, which is know by local people as “Wonop field.” We were very weak, and when the wind blew (Sendawi), the villagers spontaneously cried “Ah, Sendawi, ah...” with very happy expressions. I was surprised and really pleased. The feeling of tiredness vanished in an instant. That’s when I asked the villagers about this “Sendawi,” and they explained exactly what I have just told you.
From this background, I and my friends from Papuan Voices Merauke made a small forum which we called “Forum Sendawi.” Forum Sendawi is a movement where we can learn from each other to get smarter together. Like Sendawi itself, each person has to experience freshness, peace, and life when they are present at the Forum Sendawi.
So the approach of Forum Sendawi is popular education through storytelling and audio visual media (video). Why storytelling and video? My friends and I believe that the villagers have a lot of information, knowledge and stories which are very rich. These rich stories should be brought out and told to one another. Because when stories are brought into the discussions space and talked about together, this is a really useful way of finding solutions from the perspective of an oppressed society such as the Marind people, who are currently being crushed by the policies of MIFEE.
I have learned a lot from my personal experiences. Since I was small, I stayed in Yodom village at the edge of the Digoel river. I stayed with my mum and dad, who worked as teachers in the villages. Every year we would often received guests, whether they were groups of trainers, or guests from a government visit, or guests from the Catholic Church. These guests often held meetings with the villagers. I myself was often present, accompanying my father. I would ask, why do the guests come to the village, listen to the complaints of the villagers, write them down and make promises to help the villagers, but until today there is no change in the lives of the people in my village? This question made me realise that guests who often come to that village just want to absorb the knowledge of the villagers for the sake of their own social status. So for example if the guest is a lecturer, he wants to absorb knowledge from the villagers for his own career and academic status, and so on.
This is the background which made me want to get involved with my friends in Forum Sendawi, with the goal of building the knowledge of the oppressed and resisting the domination of information which tends to oppress them, as a liberation movement which can lead to genuine independence.
So, Forum Sendawi was formed as a movement, a study cell formed by the community.