• Back in Biak

    September 6th 2016. Alicia Calcagni writes from Biak, Indonesia about the unique island and our work with Uni Papua.

    Biak is an authentic island that does not possess the familiar qualities of any other island I have visited. Now of course not one island is the same, but they can tend to have a similar feel. However, Biak holds an unadulterated and fascinating vibe that radiates from east to west. For example, on our last day the Uni Papua team took us to a beach and cliff area. We step out of the car to wooden hangout huts with tin roofs along the ledge of the beach. One of them was used as a dance floor for the karaoke machine, which not only contained classic Indonesian songs, but the classic American ones as well. Mark and I may have preformed one of the best duets of “I Will Always Love You” Indonesia has ever seen. We unloaded pots filled with rice, vegetables, potatoes, and a big black bag of fresh raw fish from the car. Our hosts set up a small burner and used coconut shell debris as wood to start the fire. After Uni Papua refused Mark and I’s help with dinner preparation, we walked off to the cliffs. From far away it looked like a cluster of bodies peering over the edge contemplating whether or not to jump in. Instead, people of all ages were balancing in a deep squat; their backs were as straight as a line drawn with a ruler. Putting all of their faith in the friction created by their flip flops, they pressed their heels into the slippery rock stopping themselves from sliding straight into the Pacific. In other words, they were fishing. Except, only one kid had a fishing rod. The rest of them wrapped the fishing line around their hand or used a water bottle as the rod. The pure joy on everyone’s face was beautiful. Life is simple. Man made stone couches were ingrained on the side of the cliff. It was the ideal spot to watch and partake in the warm Saturday evening activity. One of the 10 year old boys who participated in our program earlier in the week came over to me with a half living, flopping fish. If I wasn’t disturbed by this enough, he started picking out the guts of the small animal with his bare fingers. Yeah, I had to look away too. We are not able to communicate, so after a few minutes of this procedure he just ran away. I looked over my shoulder searching for him and I spotted smoke rising from a grass patch on the flat of the cliff. As I was walking, I tried to convince myself that he was not cooking that small baby fish right here, right now. Sure enough, I found him carefully roasting his prize in an open fire built from bamboo, coconut, and bark. Amazing. Never experiencing something like this before I could not stop laughing. I had to try a piece now. So, there we squatted enjoying our fresh snack, and the view.

    Before this invaluable experience, Uni Papua took us to a high school on the island. When we got there we were introduced to a few of the teachers and the headmaster. The headmaster wanted us to play a few games with the students. It was awesome. We all walked down the road to a small field. After our introduction we started the session with Old Trafford Tag. Which is a normal tag game, but whoever gets tagged needs to join hands with the tagger, which will eventually form one long line. The game is over when there is only one person left. The students loved this game. They were laughing and smiling simultaneously problem solving and developing leadership skills. We followed with three more CAC games: Adebayor Hands Against HIV, Adebayor Uses a Condom tag, and Head/Catch. The students and the headmaster said they had so much fun. When we went back to the school for a meeting with the headmaster he told us that every Sunday is game day for the kids, and the games we taught them were going to be added to the list. All we had was one hour and a half and now the 4 games we played will be repeated every Sunday. We caught a glimpse of the benefits of using sport for social change.

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