Indonesia’s Papua Province is the country’s largest. It is located on the island of New Guinea. Divided roughly into equal halves, the western half of New Guinea is occupied by Indonesia and includes the Papua Province and also the province of West Papua. The eastern half of the island is the independent country of Papua New Guinea.

Indonesia Papua Province

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • Most Papuans survive through farming, forestry and fishing. Rice is the primary food crop, but Papuans also grow cassava, sweet potatoes, soybeans, corn, green beans and peanuts. East Indonesia home in trees
  • To help combat malnutrition among Compassion-assisted children, nutritious meals are served on a regular basis at their child development centers. East Indonesia boys eating food
  • Sponsors like you enable children who live in poverty in Papua Province to overcome obstacles on their journey toward becoming healthy, happy, responsible Christian adults. East Indonesia three girls
  • Compassion’s curriculum, adapted to the Papuan culture, give center tutors confidence that they are providing children the lessons they need most. East Indonesia woman in blue
  • Compassion-assisted children receive extra academic lessons and tutoring to make up for any deficits in their schooling. East Indonesia children pointing up
  • At their Compassion-assisted child development centers, children learn important social skills and build friendships that will last a lifetime. East Indonesia two children hugging

Overview: Papua Province

Indonesia’s Papua Province is the country’s largest. It is located on the island of New Guinea. Divided roughly into equal halves, the western half of New Guinea is occupied by Indonesia and includes the Papua Province and also the province of West Papua. The eastern half of the island is the independent country of Papua New Guinea.

A central east-west mountain range runs across the island. In Papua Province, peaks rise to 16,000 feet. Except in the high elevations, the province has a hot, humid climate year round.

Sentani is a district in the city of Jayapura, located on the island’s northern coast. It is a melting pot of indigenous Papuans and ethnic groups from other islands. Here, the people work at whatever jobs they can find. Usually, these are menial, low-paying and temporary.

Wamena is inhabited primarily by the Dani people, the largest indigenous group in Papua. In this impoverished area, people earn a living primarily by farming. Without modern tools or equipment, farming is labor-intensive and provides little income.

Sadly, poor families in both of these settings are unable to provide for even the most basic needs of their children.


Culture Corner


Try this Papuan favorite for breakfast.


2 cups self-rising flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. melted butter
2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed


Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Make a well in the middle.

Combine the remaining ingredients, pour into well in flour, and beat until free of lumps.

Heat frying pan with a little extra butter or oil. When the pan is hot, spoon in desired amount of mixture. When bubbles start to appear in the batter, flip and cook the other side.

Eat with more bananas sliced on top and drizzled with honey.


Life in Papua Province

Papua Province is located on the island of New Guinea. Here, Compassion ministers to children in the community of Sentani and the rural town of Wamena. Sentani, a district in an area of 261,000 people, is located on the northern coast. Wamena, home to only a few thousand people, is in the central highlands.

In the city, poor, unskilled residents work at whatever menial jobs they can find. And in rural Wamena, they work primarily in agriculture (including forestry and fishing). Throughout the province, however, more than one-third of families live in poverty, unable to meet their children’s basic life needs.

Nearly 75 percent of the province’s population comprises indigenous groups. And unlike the majority of Indonesians, people in Papua Province follow Christianity rather than Islam.

Children at Home

Homes of poor families in urban Sentani are typically made of cement blocks, with metal roofs. These usually house several members of an extended family. In rural Wamena, homes are the traditional Papuan honai. A honai is made of wood with a thatched roof. As in the city, several relatives beyond the nuclear family typically live together in one home.


Community Issues and Concerns east indonesia papua community

In addition to poverty, of concern in both Sentani and Wamena is the rising AIDS epidemic. Also, the tropical climate contributes to the proliferation of mosquitoes carrying malaria and dengue fever.

In Wamena, another problem is the lack of adequate sanitation. People use the nearby forest as their toilet, and without waste disposal, the health hazards are great.

Also, among the Dani people in Wamena, the ancient tribal custom lingers that men’s single responsibility in life is to wage war on other tribes. Therefore, men today typically do nothing but sit in the market, drinking, gambling and chatting with other men, while women bear complete responsibility for earning an income and caring for the home. It is not unusual for men in this area to have more than one wife.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children from impoverished families in Papua Province have many needs. The year-round tropical climate fosters the proliferation of malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitoes. Also, a lack of adequate sanitation facilities, especially in rural Wamena, puts children’s health at great risk. Few opportunities exist for obtaining a quality education due to poorly equipped schools and unqualified teachers. In the city, children attend school an average of six years. In rural Wamena, the average attendance is only two years.


Schools and Education east indonesia papua education

On average, children in Sentani attend school for six years, with only 53 percent completing their education through high school. In Wamena, where children often have to walk for miles to get to the nearest school, the average school attendance is only two years. For that reason, fewer than half of the adults in this rural area can read or write.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At the Compassion-assisted child development centers in Papua Province, children are receiving the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ. Along with nutritious meals for healthy 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 papua compassion in 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 Sentani and Wamena.
  • Pray for the health of children living in unsanitary environments.
  • Pray that parents would understand the value of education and encourage their children in their schooling endeavors and Compassion center attendance.
  • Pray that the Bible’s message of sexual purity and marital fidelity would influence people’s decisions and protect them from acquiring HIV.
  • Pray for the parents and caregivers of Compassion-assisted children who face unemployment or underemployment.