WEST SERAM, MALUKU — “When it comes to water, it’s very salty here,” said La Ode Sarfan, a resident of Pasir Panjang Hamlet, Huamual Belakang, West Seram, Maluku who benefited from Dompet Dhuafa’s Well Waqf Program in his area.
The heat of the afternoon forced us to pull over to an open bamboo hall with a roof made of dried leaves. After we were seated perfectly, La Ode continued the story of his village, which has no source of fresh water.
“My friends and I have been drinking brackish water since we were children. Sometimes even salty,” said La Ode, who is now 31 years old.
Although Maluku once captured the world’s attention because of its extraordinary spices, it does not necessarily mean that all areas of Maluku have friendly access to water sources. In fact, there are areas where residents have been using brackish and salty water for decades to fulfill their daily needs. Including for consumption. One area that feels this is the residents of Pasir Panjang Hamlet, Huamual Belakang District, West Seram Regency, Maluku.
As we know, the existence of clean, fresh water is vital for human survival. When the water source is too salty, the local community tries to get around it by covering their perigi or wells from direct exposure to the sun.
“We do that so that the water is not too salty. Even though it still tastes salobar (brackish), it’s better,” La Ode explained.
Meanwhile, in Pasir Panjang Hamlet, none of the residents have private wells, let alone water pumping machines in their homes. The water source in the form of a well is located in the center of the village, anyone can take it to fulfill their daily water needs.
“Therefore, even though the well is salty, we take care of it,” he said, pointing at the well.
Fresh water is something very rare and precious. However, that doesn’t mean La Ode and the people of Pasir Panjang Hamlet can’t enjoy it.
“Fresh water is available. We get it from rainwater that the community collects. But we drink only a little. Because we only offer fresh water to special guests,” he said with a bitter laugh, remembering how difficult it was to get fresh water.
Apart from rainwater, about 10 years ago, according to La Ode, there was a clean water source.
“But it was not well maintained, so the water was damaged. That’s why clean water here is something to be grateful for,” he said.
The province known as the Spice Islands has areas that are quite dry. Rainfall in the area averages below 2,000 mm/year with a rainy season of less than 6 months. This situation makes it increasingly difficult for people to get fresh water for consumption. This is because fresh water is stored only for the arrival of special guests. Whereas the average human need for water is about two liters per day. How patient the Pasir Panjang residents are, their high culture and manners make them very appreciative of guests who stop by their village.
The condition of the freshwater crisis was heard by Dompet Dhuafa. In July 2023, through the Well Waqf Program, Dompet Dhuafa channeled the kindness of donors’ waqf by presenting a freshwater well waqf for the Pasir Panjang community, Maluku.
Hearing the good news, La Ode expressed his gratitude and was determined to help in the process of the waqf well.
“There is no need to be paid. This is what I can give to my beloved village,” he said with conviction in his gaze.
With further and measured observations, a well point was found that had the potential to have fresh water and high discharge. After drilling, Alhamdulillah, the water was clean and fresh.
“This is the most beautiful gift. The community is very happy,” said La Ode.
When the well point has emitted water, Dompet Dhuafa complements it by building a water reservoir on the hill and piping it so that water can be channeled to residents’ homes.
“Knowing Dompet Dhuafa’s good intentions, I helped stir the sand and cement to make a water reservoir,” he said enthusiastically.
Like an oasis in the middle of the desert, the presence of the Dompet Dhuafa Well Waqf Program in Maluku was enthusiastically welcomed by all levels of society. Starting from the village head to ordinary citizens. Including La Ode, he is very happy and grateful for the presence of waqf wells in his village. He has been waiting for it for a long time.
Because of his happiness, La Ode is willing to help build the water reservoir from the waqf well without being paid. He just wants his younger siblings and the surrounding community to be able to enjoy fresh water in the future.
“I don’t want our younger siblings to have to walk far or look for it on other islands with small boats,” he explains.
La Ode’s dedication is for her beloved hamlet. He hopes that the waqf well offered by Dompet Dhuafa’s waqf donors can be taken care of properly.
“Hopefully this waqf well can be well cared for so that it can flow water that does not stop. As prayers for donors and Dompet Dhuafa, may they be given eternal rewards. Amin,” he hoped solemnly. (Dompet Dhuafa/Wakaf/Hafiz/Anndini)