Since the violence in Maluku erupted in 1998, Hilda Rolobessy (born 1972) has been actively involved in providing assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). In 1999, she founded Yayasan Pengembangan dan Pemberdayaan Masyarakat (YPPM), the Development and Improvement for Society Association, which provides comprehensive support for IDPs, especially women, and promotes peace and reconciliation among parties involved in conflict. YPPM’s impartial and courageous efforts have encouraged communities in conflict to bury the hatchet and gradually reinstate peace in their communities.
Hilda Rolobessy had been living a peaceful life in Ambon, Maluku until 1998 when the poor political economy and social tensions between the Moslem and Christian communities broke out into violent conflict. Thousands of people were killed in the strife and thousands more fled to other areas. Houses, mosques and churches were burned and Moslems and Christians began to live in segregated areas. Hilda and her family were forced to hide in the mountains to escape a mob attack on Moslem communities. Since the conflict erupted, Hilda has been a volunteer working with internally displaced persons in Maluku. Of the many problems she encountered in her work, one of the most critical was security. The situation in Maluku was very tense and it was not safe for humanitarian workers to travel by land or by sea. Mob attacks were staged against communities in areas controlled by opposing sides. Roadblocks were placed everywhere and snipers hid in deserted buildings shooting at everything that moved. Hilda’s work was also hampered by religious prejudice. "It was hard to gain people’s trust. The Christians, for example, thought we could not be neutral, simply because we are Moslems," she says. In 1999, Hilda founded Yayasan Pengembangan dan Pemberdayaan Masyarakat (YPPM) that incorporates Christian activists in its peace building activities and promotes peace and reconciliation through advocacy, negotiation, mediation and trauma counseling in the Maluku and North Maluku provinces. "I believe that peace is possible. I dream of a peaceful Maluku, like it was before the conflict, where people lived side by side harmoniously, regardless of their religious differences," she says. Tensions are still high in Maluku. But more people have started to get a better understanding of the nature of the conflict and are trying not to be easily provoked by rumors.
Yayasan Pengembangan dan Pemberdayaan Masyarakat (YPPM)