Indonesien: Julien Florence Mona Saroinsong

Humanity is universal. Do not think of only one particular group that needs to be rescued; we should try to make everybody survive.

— Julien Florence Mona Saroinsong

Julien Florence Mona Saroinsong (born 1958) is a full-time lecturer and researcher at a university in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia and a volunteer at the Crisis Center of Sinode Am church network. In 2001, when thousands of refugees from violent conflicts in Poso, Central Sulawesi and Maluku poured into North Sulawesi, Mona visited refugees and used her networks as a church activist to provide them with assistance. She also trained volunteers and refugees in trauma healing and organized dialogues between conflicting religious communities in Poso and Maluku.

When armed conflict swept through Central Sulawesi and Maluku in 2001, more than 20,000 people were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in Central and North Sulawesi. Mona Saroinsong established a crisis center from scratch for refugees in North Sulawesi . Using her personal contacts, she was able to access the survivors of the conflict in the heart of Central Sulawesi. "It was very hard to get past the armed civilian guards to go to the Muslim communities, but I managed somehow," she recounts. Being a woman, a Christian and a church activist, Mona had to deal with the suspicions of the Muslim communities. "I learned that after getting food and shelter, the refugees needed people to listen to their stories. So I asked friends who were interested in volunteering and gathered information for those who wanted to help," she says. After almost a year of working with her colleagues from the church community, Mona met some refugees who saw the importance of storytelling as a tool to help them overcome their trauma and volunteered to collect information and listen to the stories of other refugees. Mona’s network grew and she gained enough trust from both the Muslim and Christian communities to initiate reconciliation talks among the survivors. In 2001, the Sinode Am church network appointed her to the executive board of the Crisis Center. She got mixed reactions to her work at the center, with suspicions and accusations growing stronger after each attack following the declaration of a peace pact between conflicting parties. Today Mona Saroinsong is still teaching and remains actively involved in church community activities. She continues to critically monitor the peace process in Maluku and Poso. She also publishes her reflections on the peace process in the local media and on websites.