Baihadjar Tualeka: a silver lining from Maluku

 

As a country with many ethnics and races, Indonesia often faces a numerous intolerance conflicts in some parts of the country. Indonesia can not forget one of the horrible turmoil ever happened in this country, Maluku’s (Ambon’s) unrest which started in January 1999. These violent conflicts between two different religious groups, which has happened for years, certainly bring misery for each and every people in Maluku.

Baihadjar Tualeka, a graduate from University Pattimura, was one of the victims. She also felt the trauma and hopelessness the conflict has brought. She once lived in an evacuation camp, lived in despair. However, as every cloud has a silver lining, she then tried to rise again re-building her life.

In the beginning, she was a peddler selling black glutinous rice in the ship. Afterwards, she opened a traditional store, warung, and used her profits as capital for any females who wished to be vendors. Baihadjar and some of her female friends also initiated to open a traditional market, transacting vegetables with Christian community. She also initiated an interaction program between Islamic and Christian children, together with her friend, Lusia Peilouw, as quoted from Lusia Pielouw’s kompasiana blog. Later, she founded a cooperative association in 2006, called SANUSA, with its slogan: Your misery is mine, your sorrow is also mine. She tried to encourage and bridge the Islamic and Christian women to build their economy and life. Unfortunately, the conflict broke again in 2011, which forced her to close the cooperative association.

Nevertheless, she doesn’t loose her spirit to promote a peaceful Maluku. She is still active to give an understanding about tolerance for young learners, aged 3-5 years in Maluku. She highlights the togetherness value even though there are differences. Since 2002, she has  served as the coordinator of the Women and Children Empowerment Council (Lappan) in Ambon. Moreover, she also actively promotes peace and Women and Children empowerment in Maluku.

Her remarkable journey, though crossing a bitter path, has made her as an inspiring woman in Indonesia. Maybe, the highlight of her life was last Wednesday, when she was announced as the winner of the 2012 Saparinah Sadli Award, an award dedicated to honor activists advancing the cause of women in Indonesia.

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“I hope this award can inspire me to continue my fight to achieve peace in Ambon. I dedicate [the award] to all the mothers and children of Ambon who have inspired me and taught me innumerable lessons throughout my life,” as quoted from The Jakarta Post after the award ceremony. (AY)

(From various sources)

Baihadjar Tualeka, the winner of Saparinah Sadli Awards 2012 accepts the award from Saparinah Sadli in Alun-Alun Grand Indonesia, Jakarta (www.beritasatu.com)

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