Flying Home in Pride
Moni Tribe's First Pilot Success Story
"Never give up, whatever the circumstances. The challenges we face in life are a gift from God. If we face these challenges with thankfulness, God will open a way out for us from difficulties”.
This was uttered by Alion Belau, the first pilot from the Moni people, one of the seven kindred tribes in Mimika, during a thanksgiving event to celebrate his graduation from Genesah Flight Academy in Jakarta. Although the graduation ceremony itself is yet to be held, since a week ago Albion has been entrusted to man a Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft belonging to PT Aviosindo Perkasa, which is based in Nabire. Alion Belau graduated from Genesah Flight Academy as a Papuan student with the highest academic rank.
Alion has had to take an uphill road to accomplishment. There were numerous hurdles on the way. In fact his family did not have the means to send Alion to school.
"My father hunts wildlife in the forest for a living. What my father earned from this occupation went to pay for my schooling,” Aion said.
With his family strapped for money and barely subsisting, Alion begged his family to let him continue to junior high school. Witnessing their son’s earnestness, Aser Belau and his wife Justin Selegani made the decision to have Alion study at Advent Timika Junior High School.
"I faced many difficulties. My parents barely earned a living. So I never missed classes. I bicycled every day from Kwamki Lama to school. I worked hard because I saw how my family had to scrimp and save," Alion recounted his school days. Determined to get an education, Alion studied hard and completed junior high school.
After graduating from junior high school, Alion decided to apply for a scholarship from the Amungme and Kamoro Community Development Agency (LPMAK), a non-profit organization managing the partnership fund from PT Freeport Indonesia, to study outside the region.
Alion passed the selection stage and was sent to the Yayasan Bina Teruna Bumi Cenderawasih (Binterbusih), an education foundation in Semarang that is one of LPMAK’s partners. Students dispatched by LPMAK to other regions or cities to study at a high school do not immediately attend classes. Over the span of a year, LPMAK scholarship recipients must follow a matriculation program to adjust to the level and standards of students from more advanced regions.
"On the following year I continued my education at Theresiana II Senior High School in Semarang. Tuition fees and all scholastic costs were fully charged to LPMAK’s account. I focused only on studying,” Alion said.
As he continued his studies in Semarang, Alion reinforced his determination to become a pilot. To this end, he polished his skills in English Language and science.
In the sidelines of classes and receiving tutoring at the Binterbusih Dormitory in Semarang, Alion took English language courses.
"Every day I walked for kilometers to attend an English language course in Semarang. I used the monthly allowance of Rp. 250,000 from LPMAK to pay for a six-month course in the English language,” he related.
Having acquired a degree of fluency in English, Alion was delegated by his schoolmates to be the interpreter every time foreign visitors came to a top school in the city of Semarang.
Alion’s desire to become a pilot grew stronger as he was in the last stages of attaining high school education.
"I thought to myself, how was it possible for me to become a pilot given the high cost of attending flight school,” he said. Undaunted, Alion continued to gather information on flight schools from the internet. He soon found an aviation academy in Jakarta that was admitting students for a registration fee of Rp 2,700,000.
Equipped with money his mother had earned selling the pigs she raised, Alion decided to leave for Jakarta from Semarang, on an economy-class railway ticket. The head of Yayasan Binterbusih Semarang foundation, Paul Sudiyo presented him with an additional Rp 1,000,000.
But he arrived too late to take the necessary entrance tests, and the academy asked him to take the next selection stage. But God had another plan in mind for Alion. In a matter of hours from this setback, Alion heard from Paul Sudiyo that an associate of LPMAK’s Education Bureau, George Resubun would be holding a selection for potential flight school students from among LPMAK scholarship recipients. On hearing this promising news, Alion immediately returned to Semarang.
Soon after, George Resubun, a former pilot and mechanic of Twin Otter aircraft from Merpati Nusantara Airlines held a selection session for potential flight school students.
Out of the several Papuan students taking part, only Alion passed selection. He took more advanced English language courses in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, before going on to study at a flight school in the USA in 2013.
"I arrived in America on April 1, 2013. On the next day I was asked to join a flight. For eight months I learned to fly a single engine aircraft and pocketed 74 flight hours through a Private Pilot License (PPL) program at the Pro Aircraft Flight Training aviation school in Fort Worth, Dallas Texas," Alion recounted.
On returning from America, Alion went on to attend aviation pilot education at Genesah Flight Academy Jakarta until his graduation on September 21, 2015.
Alion who is now officially a professional pilot says he was overjoyed to be assigned to fly an aircraft to his hometown of Homeo, in Intan Jaya Regency. "Some days ago I flew an aircraft to my hometown. I was so proud to be able to be of service to my people,” Alion said. He also thanks LPMAK and PT Freeport who have supported him and extended extraordinary assistance enabling him to complete high school and attend flight school.
"Without LPMAK and PT Freeport, I could not have attained these accomplishments," he said. Alion does not forget to thank his teachers at YPPGI Kwamki Lama elementary school and Advent Timika junior high school.
He voiced the hope that other Papuan youths will follow in his footsteps, subject to their earnestly applying themselves to their studies towards making their dreams come true. “I hope my experience will inspire and motivate other Papuan youths,” Alion Belau said.
From Antara: Alion Belau – Pilot Pertama Suku Moni by Evarianus Supar
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