Giving All Despite Own Needs

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Mrs. Marian and the orphan child

Today over 15 million women are displaced and struggling to sustain their life and the life of their loved ones. Some of these women have been displaced for over a decade. Marian is one of these women initially displaced in 1999 and since then living in camps and a shabby warehouse in Maluku hoping for a better future to come.

“This is actually not my child. I don’t know where its mother is. When its mother gave birth, it was me that helped her. After that she went away. Now the child is already eleven months with me” says Marian about the child that is with her wherever she goes. Marian is one of 18 women living since many years in an old warehouse since she was displaced by communal violence erupting in many parts of Maluku. Being no longer able to return to their previous residence they have lost all property, homes and land but their hope and will to survive.

Although Marian lives from the hand in the mouth, only able to buy food from the money she and her husband earns on a day-to-day basis, she still finds the heart to share. The midwife, her husband and the now three children survive on 40 USD a week only supported at times by her oldest son that lives and works in the city. Daily expenses and school fees for her own two children in high and junior high school are exciding the money she has available. Five people including a toddler of another woman want to be fed and educated on 6 USD a day. But Marian rarely complains about the lack of money, as she is more concerned about conditions for her children in the shabby plywood-walled warehouse a place that is not suited for people to live in.

Marian lives on 3×4 square meters that are bedroom and living room in one. Day and night it is hot and humid. The Barito warehouse is the third temporary shelter Marian and her family lived in after being displaced 12 years ago. Former camps included a Military dormitory and a NGO run camp in Waimahu.

Two times the government provided assistance in the past. The Government Center for Housing Assistance and the Governor gave about 1800 USD to build an emergency house years ago. “The government gave cement, zinc, plywood, nails and the cost of builders to build houses, but where we want to build a house if we do not own land”. Because land was considered the most important, residents sold building materials to put their money together for a down payment for land meant to be for relocation. Unfortunately this collaboration could not be sustained for later support provided by the government so the outstanding amount was never paid by the collective. ”We here are not united in heart anymore” is an expression one often hears not only in Barito. Sometimes government aid is spent in vain. This is one of the reasons why people until now cannot move to a relocation area.

Now government aid has dried up and the issue of displaced person of the conflict of 1999 is not on the agenda anymore. More recent conflicts triggering displacements in Maluku are in need for attention. “They think we are not displaced anymore. Especially now after a lot of new unrest “ said Mariana.

“I dream of selling again, open a stall again to sell vegetables, kerosene, spices, soap, rice, shampoo, sugar and coffee. If I work at a stall I can care for the child at the same time. Although it is not my own child” Marian said when asked what she would like to do in future. In Vitas-Barito Warehouse there are not many potential buyers. The only hope is to find a place to move to.

(Veronica Purwaningsih)

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