Adventist Peacemaker Noticed by Review Magazine After Flight MH17 Tragedy [UPDATED]

640px-Boeing_777-2H6ER_9M-MRD_Malaysian_(6658105143)

Credit: Alan Wilson, Wikimedia Commons.

The Adventist Review reports that “Frieda Souhuwat-Tomasoa, had booked a seat on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on July 17.”[1] However, because “she wanted to arrive at her destination earlier, she at the last minute changed to a flight a day earlier on Emirates.” The flight was shot down while passing through eastern Ukrainian airspace.

Her purpose for traveling:

Souhuwat-Tomasoa, a member of the Executive Committee of the Netherlands Union Conference and an elder at her local Adventist church, Rotterdam-North, was traveling to Ambon, Indonesia, to assist in a United Nations mandate to reconcile people in an area buffeted by sectarian conflict a decade ago.

She frequently travels to Ambon, located on Maluku Islands, just to the east of the island of Sulawesi, as an active participant in the UN program, Altink said.

Read the original AR story here.

UPDATE: On July 25 the Adventist Review posted a follow-up story describing Souhuwat-Tomasoa’s peacebuilding efforts in Indonesia.[2] She was making an”emergency visit to Ambon, Indonesia, where a major conference that she was organizing was on the brink of collapse.”  Souhuwat-Tomasoa works for “UNPO, a Hague-based organization that seeks to find nonviolent solutions to conflicts that affect indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognized or occupied territories.”

The article reports:

Souhuwat-Tomasoa, a member of the Netherlands Union Conference’s Executive Committee and an elder at her local Rotterdam-North church, retired from a career in Dutch government service but remains active with UNPO, which she joined in 1991.

She serves as a representative of the people of the Maluku Islands, where a conflict erupted between Christians and Muslims in the regional capital, Ambon, in 1999. The sectarian violence, which saw entire villages burned down, raged until 2003 and killed an estimated 10,000 people.

Souhuwat-Tomasoa was present in Ambon during the violence and used her position with UNPO to steer shiploads of food and clothing from ADRA, the Adventist relief agency, to those who needed assistance.

She also helped facilitate a peace agreement that ended the fighting and has engaged in efforts to rebuild the shattered region, again working with the Netherlands branch of ADRA. She said the four years of fighting left many orphans and people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

When a multiyear study found that the Maluku Islands are the second poorest of Indonesia’s 33 provinces and its inhabitants are among the least educated in the country, UNPO decided to organize a major conference to create understanding and insight into local problems and to help shape the province’s policy. Souhuwat-Tomasoa set to work organizing the conference with Ambon’s three largest universities.

The entire article with more details is accessible here.

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[1] Andrew McChesney, “Dutch Adventist Leader Changed Malaysia Airlines Ticket at Last Minute,” Adventist Review (22 July 2014); http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/dutch-adventist-leader-changed-malaysian-airlines-ticket-at-last-minute.

[2] Andrew McChesney, “She Missed Flight 17 Because of the Sabbath,” Adventist Review (25 July 2014); http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/dutch-adventist-missed-malaysian-airlines-flight-because-of-sabbath.

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