YOGYAKARTA - Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) still and always has a commitment to provide opportunity to the nation's best children to get education on this campus. For the year 2011, UGM also receives tens of students from Papua, nine of whom are from Pegunungan Bintang Regency. Most of them come from families with poor economic condition and live in the middle of dense jungle. To reach their village can only be reached by walking for days or even weeks.
Abenius (21) is one of the nine new UGM students from Pegunungan Bintang. He is from Ketengban tribe who lives in the Borme village. The journey to this village can only be done by walking through the wilderness for a week from Oksibil city, capital of Pegunungan Bintang Regency. While continuing high school in Oksibil, the only high school in this district, Abenius had to stay in his relative’s house. If he had run out of pocket money, he had to go home. "Whenever I was going home, we brought sweet potatoes for lunch along the way," Abenius who has been admitted to Agroindustry department, Faculty of Agricultural Technology, said when invited to the Office of Public Relations and Protocol UGM.
Frequently in the middle of the trip, Abenius encountered wild animals, one of which was a snake. He also had twice bitten by venomous snakes. He said that there was no special cure or potions to treat snake bite wounds, but he would just use a rope. "Tie the part of your body which is biten with the rope around the area of the injury, squeeze it so that the blood would go out," the eldest of four siblings said.
Similar condition and experience were also experienced by Demas Mirin, another student from Pegunungan Bintang. To go to his village, Elpomek, he had to carry sweet potatoes weighing 5 pounds for the long trip. When he was hungry, he would roast the sweet potatoes. If he ran out of supplies, he would ask for sweet potatoes from people in the villages he passed. "They knew we were making a long trip. So, they would give us food stock," student of Animal Health Diploma said with his Papuan accent.
In Papua, not every village uses the same language. Each tribe has their own language. To be able to communicate, Demas and Abenius have to use sign language. Although the villages of Demas and Abenius are far from access to education, this does not reduce their spirit for continuing education. Finally, there was a scholarship being offered by local governments, providing the opportunity to follow the selection test at UGM. Both of them tried it and finally are received at UGM. "I am pleased and proud, I can study in a famous university in Indonesia," he said.
The same feeling is also conveyed by Emiona Nerlin Tepmui, the only girl among the nine students. As she is accepted in Nursing Department, Faculty of Medicine, Emiona intends to serve as a nurse in her village in the future. "There has been no nurse and midwive there," she said.
Head of Public Relations and Protocol, Drs. Suryo Baskoro, M.S., said that the nine students from the Pegunungan Bintang have previously passed the selection since 2010 through Regional Excellent Students Search, cooperation between UGM and Pegunungan Bintang Regency Government. "For 10 months they followed the Matriculation Program at UGM. This year, they are officially accepted as freshmen," he said.