With the current Corona crisis affecting our economy dramatically, many people around the world are worried about losing their jobs or even their whole existence. In Switzerland, psychological illnesses have increased or worsened considerably since the outbreak of Covid-19 and more people are seeking help with psychologists or in psychiatric clinics. There also seems to be reason to believe that suicidal tendencies are rising and will continue to rise the longer the crisis lasts, especially within the group of young people.
How do my Indonesian colleagues react to the crisis? The answer needs differentiating. Whereas my colleagues from Jawa, Bali and other areas of Indonesia are following the news very closely and worry at times about their families and friends, Papuans never gave me the impression they were really worried about this virus. You may say that they might not understand the whole impact on a bigger scale, and you may be right. But we do inform them widely and regularly, so they know what’s going on. And they feel the consequences of the crisis on a personal level, since they only get a part of their salary and haven’t seen any guests for 8 months now.
And yet, they don’t seem to worry. On the one hand, it may have to do with the fact that they still have a job, good food and something to do whereas most of their friends and family don’t. But, more importantly, they don’t have that much to lose. They have always had to deal with illnesses and have a different approach to illness and death. It’s always been part of their life, so why the big fuss around Corona?
Every once in a while, we have to let go an employee because he crosses a line that is unacceptable. It just happened again very recently, and I simply cannot understand why they risk losing such a good job for – in my eyes – a very stupid reason. With my western mentality, I feel that an employment with Raja4Divers must be like winning the lottery for someone in Raja Ampat. And I know that many, especially young men, want to come and work for us. So why do they risk losing it all?
Because, for one, they don’t think about the future. But also beacuse they don’t consider losing a job such a tragedy. Even if they’re the only ones making any money for the entire family or village. They may have a garden they can live off, go fishing and get some rice somewhere. It always works out somehow. As proud as they may be of their job at Raja4Divers (and they are very proud, I know that!), they don’t attach that much importance to a job or a position as we do. It doesn’t define who they are, it just pays money. And if they are lucky, they enjoy doing what they do, e.g. as a dive or snorkelling guide.
It’s a pity to lose good people, and the one we just lost, was a good one. We invest time and money in our employees, as any good company would, and hope they will stay for a while. But nothing is guaranteed, so we have to start all over again with someone new. You would think that word will get out and potential employees would hear about this and not make the same mistake if they get hired. But unfortunately, they forget after a while and think they will not get caught. It reminds me a little of my children when they were small. They always thought I wouldn’t find out when they did something wrong. Too bad for them, I always did!
As much as I love and admire the happy-go-lucky mentality of our Papuan employees, it sometimes makes me sad. I wish I could make them see what they risk losing. That they would have a perspective in life with Raja4Divers and a second family that really cares for and about them.
But I guess, that’s a very western view of things again…
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…