Indonesien: Sophie Patty

I will continue helping the children, so that later they can help others. I hope this will become a huge circle of love, where people help each other.

— Sophie Patty

Sophie Patty (born 1928) came to Jayapura in 1962 to spread Christianity. She travelled throughout the inland areas where she learned about the problems of the people and met many children who had been abandoned by their families. She cared for these children and with very limited resources, provided shelter and education for them. She later became involved in peace negotiations to resolve conflicts arising in the villages. Hundreds of men and women in Papua owe their lives to Sophie.

Sophie Patty, of Moluccan origin, first came to Papua as a member of a church mission to spread Christianity. "I remember those days. We had to report to the High Commander of West Irian in Jakarta in order to go to Papua," she recalls. The political conditions in Papua were very critical. The government issued a security alert in the island. Sophie was working with Dewan Gereja Indonesia (Indonesian Church Council) and was Council Secretary for Oikumene Christian Council from 1956 to 1962. Sophie travelled all over the island to understand the culture. She recounts, "I travelled to the remote inland, mountain and various districts. Because we had no money, I travelled by boat to visit other districts. On one trip, I travelled to Biak by boat, then to Manokwari and inland. We had to walk through the forest and it took three days just to reach the next village. We had no food at all." In the 1970s, Sophie began to realize her dream to work with children and improve their education. "We worked with many kinds of children. We took in street children and taught them how to read and write after nine pm. We also introduced them to other materials according to their age and psychological development." Those who take refuge in her shelter are children whose parents have separated, are lost, dead or live in another district and therefore need a place to stay. Some children were abandoned at her doorstep. Sophie yearns for the day the children can help build a better Papua. "I dream that they will become highly responsible leaders. I am already 76 years old, but look at me: I am still able to work. I will continue helping the children, so that later they can help others.”