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Rio Puttileihalat

Conducted on: 22-05-2017
Published on: 30-06-2017 
Written by: Ingrid Bremmers
Photographer: Teresa Cancola

“After I find a fixed job, I want to get married and have children. So that in five years from now, I can see them grow up healthy.”

It was a sunny afternoon, one of those that you can only experience in Asia. Sweat was dripping down our faces, hitting the sandy roads. It was going to be our first interview in Kaibobo, which made us a little bit nervous. Partly because we did not know how our communication with the translator (Cici) was going to be. But most of all, whether he was going to open up in front of three so-called ‘bule’ (foreigners).


When we arrived at his house, two men from the government asked a woman where we could find him. The woman, surprised by our visit, shouted something we could not understand. Not even a minute later, a young-looking man arrived. He opened the door and showed us where to sit. The twenty-eight-year-old, who had been living in Kaibobo for all his life, settled himself down in front of us. It seemed like he felt a little nervous. But as soon as Cici started the conversation, we could see he found a comfort in her smile. Because of this comfort, he started to open up about his life. He told us about his family. About that he lives with his mother, father and niece. The latter is there to keep his mother company.

After this he quietly continued talking. He looked down and said that he did not stand a chance on finding a good job. Owing the fact that he could not go further than Senior High School because of the families’ financial situation. Now, he is sometimes called to cut wood. Which only provides him with a job for one week a month. The other days of the month he helps his parents out by collecting water and cutting wood. Cutting wood is his passion. Because it is here, in the forest, where he feels completely himself. A place where there is silence. A place where he was brought by his uncle when he was little. Combined with his passion for cutting wood is his passion for religion. He goes to church every Sunday and is also one of the fifty-two members of the Youth Generation of Church in Maluku (AM-GPM) in Kaibobo.

But his believe in religion does not distribute to the amount of happiness he feels. Because when we asked him if he could rank his level of happiness on a scale from one to ten (ten being the most happy), he replied with a five. “A five since I am not married yet, I don’t have children and I don’t have a fixed job. But this will hopefully change soon after I move to Ambon this August (2017). I have found a job there.” A job in which he can combine his passion of cutting wood with making furniture. But in order to do this, he has to leave his mother, father, uncle and niece behind in Kaibobo. “However, as long as it will improve my future, I will do it. A future in which I can see my children grow up healthy while at the same time I own my own house.”

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