I joined Maverick as a fresh graduate around two years ago, where I was able to enjoy around 3 months of interacting with my colleagues and clients in person. 

Then COVID-19 struck. 

Since then, work life has been a series of zoom meetings and remote working as offices shut and travel was curbed. 

Fast forward to March 2022. After two years of rampaging and causing the world to almost a standstill, the pandemic seems to be winding down and society is taking its first tentative steps toward living with the virus.

In the communications industry, we gradually moved from purely online events to hybrid and offline events. One day our client, PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), told us that they needed a Maverick consultant to accompany a Harian Kompas news team reporting on their activities in Timika, the capital of the Mimika district in Papua. Within the city limits is Kuala Kencana that houses PTFI’s shipping and administrative and sustainability functions.

When my team supervisor told me that he’d like to assign me to the task, I was anxious. This would be my first out-of-town assignment and I’d have to coordinate all the logistics while assisting the journalists all by myself. Would I be able to rise to the occasion?

After thinking about it, I decided to bite the bullet. An opportunity to visit Indonesia’s easternmost province and seeing our client’s programs that benefit the local community doesn’t come every day. 

So at 2 am on March 16, I found myself in a car heading to Soekarno-Hatta Airport. There, I’d meet up with the Harian Kompas news crew and we’d spend the next six hours flying to Mozes Kilangin Airport at Timika.

To make sure I had everything I needed for the trip, I began preparing a list of questions and background information about the places and people that the news crew would visit. This would prove to help me a lot as once we arrived the schedule was packed and we quickly had to move from one event and place to another.

The Harian Kompas team was split into two groups so that they could cover as much of PTFI’s community development and environmental preservation programs as they could. I assisted the community development team and we visited the Mimika Sports Complex (MSC) as well as Kuala Kencana, the coffee production facilities at Koperasi Amungme Gold, the fisheries operations of Koperasi Maria Bintang Laut, the cocoa plantation by Koperasi Buah Dewa and poultry farm in Utikini Village, and the cultural preservation effort in Maramowe Foundation.

I marveled at how much financial and personnel resources PTFI had committed to help improve the livelihoods and welfare of the communities around Timika.

I met many new people and had the chance to interview both PTFI’s representatives and its beneficiaries. I also observed how journalists from Harian Kompas carried out interviews with PTFI’s beneficiaries and prepared their research beforehand. It was exhilarating to view first hand some of the programs whose stories I had been trying to tell on behalf of PTFI from afar before. 

We discussed the different approaches that PR and journalists take in covering stories, what kind of angles and narratives the media prefered when receiving press releases, among other things. This experience has certainly taught me new things and insights from a different perspective – which would be valuable for me as a PR practitioner.

Work aside, Papua left me awe-struck, not least because this was the first time I’ve set foot there. The clouds were cinematic-like and the sky was vibrant blue most of the time we were there. The forests were a lush green, turning bluish in the distant hills. I took many snapshots of the landscape and, either I was so inspired by Papua or my handphone’s algorithms were doing their job well, the results were always awesome! 

The food was superb and we scoffed down large amounts of tuna, crabs and also sampled Papeda, unique to Papua. It was essentially sago starch eaten with two sticks and with fish soup spiced with tumeric.

Before I knew it, four days had passed and we were on our way back to Jakarta. As we flew over the huge expanses of forests, river plains and mountains of Papua, I couldn’t help feeling that one of the perks of working as a communications consultant must be trips like this where you get to see new and exotic places, learn much from talking to a lot of people and making friends with the journalists and clients.

Fun facts about Timika:

  • Timika can be really hot during the day and cold during the night. It can also be very humid with up to 75% humidity even when it’s not raining!
  • Since the transmigration policy adopted by the previous government administration to open up remote areas of Indonesia, Timika now is like its own miniature of Indonesia where people from various places come to live! Aside from Papuan that I have met there, many of the people in Timika have migrated from Java, Sulawesi, Sumatra, and Kalimantan.

Written by Ashila Nafisaputri, Associate