Indonesian Islands

Indonesian Islands

Most of the Indonesian islands are mountainous and have a tropical, wet climate that produces abundant vegetation. The indonesian islands’ animal life is equally abundant, with several species of beautiful exotic birds found in the thick rainforests. Compassion began ministering in the rural western part of the island in 2007. Today, more than 1,500 children are being assisted through 12 child development centers.

Indonesia Halmahera Island

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • Most families on Halmahera Island make a living off the land by farming, using traditional equipment such as ox-drawn carts. East Indonesia man and boy on ox cart
  • Compassion’s curriculum, adapted to the Indonesian culture, gives child development center tutors the confidence that they are providing the lessons children need most. East Indonesia children in classroom
  • Halmahera’s children face many daunting challenges in their journey toward becoming healthy, happy, responsible adults. East Indonesia children sitting in grass
  • Compassion-assisted children are taught how to develop a relationship with God through prayer. East Indonesia girl praying
  • At their Compassion-assisted child development center, children participate in activities that develop their creativity and imagination. East Indonesia girls cutting paper
  • On Halmahera, eight local churches currently host Compassion child development centers. East Indonesia girl jumping rope

Overview: Halmahera

Halmahera is the largest in a group of more than 1,000 islands in eastern Indonesia. Together, these islands make up two provinces, Maluku and North Maluku. Halmahera has a land area of 6,865 square miles and a population of about 106,500. The island has four primary peninsulas and is mountainous.

Compassion began ministering in the rural western part of the island in 2007. Today, more than 1,500 children are being assisted through 12 child development centers.

The livelihood of people on Halmahera is typically farming or mining. Rich in natural resources, the island is the site of several large mining projects, including mines for gold, nickel and cobalt. However, the wages from mining and farming jobs are not sufficient for families to adequately support the needs of their children.

About half the people of Halmahera are Christian, and the other half are Muslim. They speak a variety of tribal dialects, but Indonesian is the common language.

The North Maluku islands, including Halmahera, are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, and north of Timor. In the 16th and 17th centuries these islands were called the “Spice Islands” by the Europeans. At the time, these were the only source of such spices as cloves, nutmeg and mace.

Most of the islands are mountainous and have a tropical, wet climate that produces abundant vegetation. The islands’ animal life is equally abundant, with several species of beautiful exotic birds found in the thick rainforests.


Culture Corner

(Green Mango and Tuna Salad)

Try this salad, popular in the Maluku islands.


1 tbsp. green mango sambal (see below)
¼ cup coconut milk
1 mango, peeled and cut into thin strips
½ tsp. salt
1 lb. tuna, grilled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 oz. bean sprouts


Mix prepared sambal and coconut milk.

Sprinkle mango slices with salt, and cut tuna into cubes. Toss mango, tuna, onions and sprouts with sambal/coconut milk dressing.


Puree the following ingredients in a blender (sambal will keep for two months in a refrigerator):

8 red chili peppers
1 unripe mango, peeled and cube
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. shrimp paste*
2 tbsp. oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 piece of lemon grass, chopped*

* Available at Asian markets.


Life in Halmahera

Halmahera is the largest island in Indonesia’s island grouping known as the Moluccas. Halmahera, which means “motherland,” comprises four peninsulas covering an area of 6,865 square miles. The island is covered by heavily wooded mountains that reach up to 5,000 feet in elevation. With three active volcanoes, the island frequently has earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The population of Halmahera represents a wide diversity. About half the people follow Islam, and the other half, Christianity. People in the interior of the island live primarily by hunting, fishing, and collecting the starchy material of the sago palm, which is made into flour for cooking. Those along the coastline cultivate rice. Coconuts, cocoa, cloves, nutmeg and coffee are also grown.

Families typically live in octagonal-shaped houses in villages of several homes grouped around a central square.

Children at Home

Homes of poor families in Halmahera are typically made of wood or cement blocks, with metal or thatched roofs. These usually house several members of an extended family. During the religious-based conflict between 1999 and 2000 many homes were burned, the ruins of which can still be seen around the island. But since then, families have largely restored their lives, and stability has returned.


Community Issues and Concerns east indonesia halmahera community

In addition to poverty, families in Halmahera suffer the effects of frequent earthquakes, flooding and volcanic activity. One of the island’s three volcanoes, Dukono, located on the northernmost peninsula, is active. The year Compassion began ministry here, 2007, all three disasters — flooding, volcanic eruption and earthquake — struck the island, affecting thousands of lives.

Ongoing tension between Muslims and Christians is another issue. Although relatively peaceful today, 1999 through 2000 was a period of terrible violence between the two groups throughout the Maluku region of Halmahera. Countless homes of Christians and more than 400 churches were destroyed. Many Christians of Halmahera fled to other islands for safety. By the end of the conflict, there were more than 500,000 refugees and 6,000 deaths.

Local Needs and Challenges

Most of Halmahera’s children are from families that live in poverty and cannot adequately meet their basic needs. Their fragile homes are under constant threat from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and flooding. Another threat is the ongoing tension between Christians and Muslims, which erupted into violence between 1999 and 2000, resulting in thousands of deaths. Children frequently suffer from neglect and abuse. People have limited access to medical assistance on the island, and a lack of post-secondary schools limits educational opportunities.


Schools and Education east indonesia halmahera education

Children in Halmahera typically attend school for nine years, starting at age 6 in elementary school and ending at age 15 after junior high. There are no higher education opportunities on the island. Any young person who wants to continue their education beyond secondary school must go to a larger island. For poor families of Halmahera, this option is simply out of the question.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At Halmahera’s Compassion-assisted child development centers children are receiving the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ. Along with nutritious meals for physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy. Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion believes that God’s purposes on Earth are accomplished through the church – including His purpose of bringing justice and mercy to the world’s poor and oppressed. That’s why in East Indonesia, as in every country where Compassion’s ministry is found, our program is carried out through local churches.

Our partner churches in East Indonesia are on the front lines, reaching into their communities to serve impoverished children and families. After all, who better than the local church understands the real needs of the people in its community?

It is our privilege and blessing to work alongside these committed partner churches in East Indonesia, encouraging, empowering and equipping them to meet children’s needs, in Jesus’ name.

How Compassion Works in East Indonesia east indonesia halmahera compassion in east indonesia

Compassion’s work in East Indonesia began in 2005. Currently, more than 38,400 participate in 185 child development centers in eastern Indonesia.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide East Indonesia’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are an important link between Compassion and the individual church partners that implement our program. In East Indonesia, each Partnership Facilitator oversees several local churches that operate Compassion-assisted child development centers.

Partnership Facilitators play a critical role in empowering local church partners to be the best they can be at meeting the needs of their communities’ children. Indonesians themselves, they understand the local reality of the churches they serve and are best able to represent the churches’ needs and challenges to the national Compassion office.

East Indonesia’s Partnership Facilitators are a team of workers selflessly dedicated to their demanding jobs. And they have a passion for seeing their country’s children in need released from poverty.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for strength and wisdom for the child development staff members, as they strive to serve children in need in Halmahera.
  • Pray for Christians in Halmahera to reach out to their Muslim neighbors in forgiveness, love, and an eagerness to share the hope of the gospel.
  • Pray for the protection of children and families from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and flooding.
  • Pray for the parents and caregivers of Compassion-assisted children who face unemployment or underemployment.