PROSPER TOGETHER IN THE EASTER FEAST

PROSPER TOGETHER IN THE EASTER FEAST

Between Big Malls and Natural Conservation

The Botong area and the surrounding forests were originally a “big mall” that provided various kinds of life necessities for the Kualant Dayak tribe. However, currently this “big mall” is slowly turning into an area that is experiencing quite heavy environmental damage. The forest and surrounding area, which previously provided everything the community could enjoy, has now become an environment that lacks natural resources. While the population continues to increase, the need for clothing, food and shelter also continues to increase. The only remaining natural resource is gold mining, so many Kualant Dayak people also carry out these mining activities. Many areas around Botong are encroached on by “dongfeng” machines used to mine gold. In the end, existing large malls are increasingly threatened. Even the Kualant River, which previously had very clear water, has now become very murky.

The issue of mining, environmental damage and its impact on the community in Botong and its surroundings is not without narrative. There have been many attempts to respond to this problem, but not much change has occurred. In fact, conflicts between those who are pro and anti-mining have already occurred and until now there has been no agreement.

In his homily, Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi, Pr asked the congregation to sing the song Our Lady on the Edge of the Kualant River which was composed by Fr. Nugroho Tri Sumartono, Pr. The song tells the story of the people’s promise on the banks of the Kualant River to care for nature. In his reflection, Msgr. Pius also mentioned his trip on June 2 and 3 2023 when he visited Jangat Station and the Siling Ketupak waterfall. In his homily at the Hides Station, Msgr. Pius mentioned that the flow of the Kualant river five years ago was very clear and the water was drinkable. Currently the water is no longer as clear as before. Then during a visit to the Siling Ketupak waterfall, while recollecting together with OMK Botong, Mgr. Pius still saw hope. The flow of waterfalls and rivers is still very clear and clean. He hopes that all Botong people can protect and care for the forests, rivers and land under the supervision of the Botong Parish.

Officially became the Parish of St. Mary Mother of God Botong

After waiting for approximately 50 years, St. Mary Mother of God Botong, Ketapang Diocese inaugurated. Previously, the Botong area was part of the station in Balai Berkuak Parish. Many priests from various congregations have worked in Botong. With joy, after the Jesuits were present at Botong Station, the process of inaugurating it as a parish moved more quickly and finally on June 4 2023, Botong Station officially changed its status to St. Mary’s Parish. Mary Mother of God, Botong. In this parish there are currently three Jesuits, namely Father Philippus Bagus Widyawan, SJ as Head Parish Pastor, Father Albertus Mardi Santosa, SJ as Associate Pastor, and Brother Yosephus Bayu Aji Prasetyo, SJ as TOK-er.

Liturgy officials take a group photo in front of the altar after the inauguration of Botong Parish.

The series of joys at the inauguration of the parish was also marked by the inauguration of two chapels, namely the Stasi Kemunduk and Empasi Chapels. Apart from the chapel, a sub-district health center was also inaugurated at Jenish Stasi, which is also used as a place for weekly prayers. Apart from religious priests, monks and nuns, guests attending this inauguration came from various parishes and regions. There were also people who had to walk five hours to witness the inauguration of Botong Parish.

Remaining Challenges

To arrive at Botong Parish, the journey can be done in two ways. The first is by motorbike from Balai Berkuak. Second, by car to Empasi station and continue by motorbike. In the past Botong Parish could be accessed by boat, but due to decreasing river water levels and increasing mud deposits, access by boat was not possible. I don’t know how long it will take for four-wheeled vehicles to reach Botong Parish. According to reports, this year there are plans to widen the road. This unavailability of road access automatically slows down the process of interaction between parishioners and the outside world. Access to other facilities such as health, communications, logistics and education will ultimately be affected.

From the stories of the Jesuits and also what I have witnessed myself, one of the tough challenges faced by the people in this parish is a matter of perseverance and the willingness to implement new things in social life. The Jesuits who were present there tried to solve this problem, for example by ‘educating’ young people to have an attitude of perseverance. Several young people have been sent to study agriculture at KPTT Salatiga and carpentry at PIKA Semarang to complement their skills in both fields. However, what then becomes a problem is that the knowledge that has been learned has not been fully applied there. Hope remains because I witnessed several teenagers who became very diligent when taught by the Jesuits in the Rectory. There are six teenagers who are specifically trained in discipline by Father Mardi, namely every 06.00 they are taught to work (sweeping, planting, watering plants, making embankments, and cleaning the rectory area). If they have endurance, I believe the principle of perseverance can be honed. For this reason, the Jesuits there have tried to combat this problem.

Another way to do this is to send Kualant Dayak children to study in Java, for example studying at junior high school, high school and vocational school levels in several places such as Solo, Salatiga and Yogyakarta. The hope is that those who have finished studying will want to return to Botong and develop their area. Another challenge that is not easy to face is understanding local culture and carrying out inculturation, for example traditional parties accompanied by alcoholic drinks which often end in fights. It turns out that the distribution of illegal drugs has also reached this place. The reflective question that can be asked then is how Botong Parish can take a positive role and make changes. Parish priests have often reminded us of the negative impact of ‘poyon’ or drinking alcohol until we get drunk.

The final challenge which is quite urgent is environmental damage due to illegal mining. The impact is very real. For example, what is seen on the Kualant River. However, awareness of preserving the environment is always outweighed by the lure of profits from mining materials. The process of building awareness has long begun, at least from the snippet of the song Our Lady on the Edge of the Kualant River that we heard, namely the promise to protect the natural environment. Hopefully!

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