Bersama-sama Project: Indonesia

July 19, 2019


PEKKA Yayasan + Torajamelo + NAPIESV

Spaces at Island of Lembata:  PEKKA’s space at Kerubaki; Island of Adonara: PEKKA’s space at Lodan Doe; and Island of Flores:  Larantuka

In partnership with PEKKA Yayasan and Torajamelo, NAPIESV began our work on the island of Lembata on May 13th, 2019.

PEKKA Yayasan ( East Flores chapter is an organization with a vision to empower women who are heads of households to work towards building a more just, prosperous, and dignified society.  Torajamelo ( is an Indonesia-based organization with a vision of a better life for the weavers and the preservation and rejuvenation of Indonesian handwoven textile art and culture to address poverty and gender inequality. PEKKA Yayasan and Torajamelo have been collaborating with each other.  NAPIESV is a new partner in addressing sexual violence in the communities that PEKKA members are part of.

A Culturally-Specific MOU:  A different way of “entering” and collaborating with communities

There was a ceremony welcoming NAPIESV and Torajamelo at the main entrance of the community near the ocean.  NAPIESV and Torajamelo staff were picked up by community members on a boat and dropped off at the old gate/entrance by the ocean.  The elders greeted us with peace, welcomed the partnership, and wished us good health for our departure. Palm wine was shared between the elders and the guests and betel nuts were given to the guests as an official way of welcoming us in their physical space and solidifying the partnership between the three organizations.  This is something new to NAPIESV staff since we have only been signing MOUs.

Naming sexual violence & Discussion of the root causes of sexual violence

NAPIESV began its work to create a safe space for PEKKA members to discuss sexual violence in all three locations.  As what we have practiced working with API organization in the U.S. and in the U.S. Territories in the Pacific, it is crucial that we begin by discussing and defining the “sexual violence” in Bahasa Indonesian or Bahasa Lamaholot (language of the people of the islands of Lembata, Adonara, and the town of Larantuka.   Finding the words in our own language creates a culturally-specific space that will eventually open the space to discuss sexual violence and how it looks in their communities.   At the Lodan Doe’s PEKKA Center, not only naming sexual violence was discussed, but also the root causes of sexual violence: for example, how the dowry system of giving ivory can perpetuate oppressive practices based on sex/gender and class.  The discussion of different cases and how community members and the whole community can assist victims shifted how participants view victim/survivors.

What is next:  It’s not the Building but it’s about the Heart.

During the evaluation, PEKKA leaders stated that NAPIESV created a safe space to discuss and disclose sexual violence.  Ibu Dette, one of the PEKKA leaders, stated that “it was good to peel what sexual violence means in their own language, and to discuss the root of sexual violence, and how they can help.”  In the past, PEKKA members received training on gender-based violence, but did not discuss sexual violence specific to their own community or context – the discussion of the word “sexual violence” and what it looks like in their own community.  It was also important to be reminded that victims/survivors need support and not blame. Having case studies to discuss was an excellent strategy to dig deeper into what sexual violence looks like and how they can help the victim/survivor.   PEKKA leaders and members decided to use case scenarios as a monthly discussion topic to sharpen their skills in providing assistance to victims/survivors and to prevent sexual violence.

And this is just the beginning of the conversation.