outback to jungle

Musings on experiences of volunteering in Papua New Guinea with some gratuitous domestic social and public comment

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Employment Opportunity

Invasion Management International

is seeking a suitably qualified Chief Executive Officer.

This position has recently become available owing to the incompetence of the previous officer.
The position requires a person with skills in blowing up buildings and knocking down infrastructure whilst killing no civilians and attracting no terrorists.
The applicant ideally should have a knowledge of Farsi or Urdu or Dari and Korean. Experience in making a mess of other people's lives and cleaning it up without the international community's recognising any difference would be well regarded.
Responsibilities of the position include:
* Restore homes of bombed out civilians;
* Rebuild roads, bridges, power lines, oil refineries;
* Restore telecommunications, water and sewerage facilities;
* Rebuild schools and hospitals;
* Remove wrecked cars, buses and trucks;
* Restore confidence of civilian population;
* Reduce nightmares of children;
* Ensure food supplies for families whose breadwinner was killed.
* Ensure conditions that will encourage the return of birds, flies and ants.

IMI used to be a successful company until a recent distaster brought discredit upon the company. IMI is keen to reassert itself in this specialised field and is prepared to discuss an attractive remuneration package with the right applicant.

Previous applicants or incumbents need not reapply.

with egg on their face and jam

and honey and treacle in their hair and on their hands, the Coalition of the Willing is trying to look as if it is not looking for a strategy to cut and run (whatever that means - I think it's got something to do with Alexander Downer - but the image of cutting what? and running back home I assume?) while trying to look as though it has not just shat in someone's kitchen and is trying to slink away without cleaning up its mess. I marched against the Invasion of Iraq several times in 2003 and I wrote umpteen letters to Tony Windsor my MP who was one of the few politicians to say this was a stupid idea - of invading Iraq that is. But once we were in the country blowing up buildings and bridges and communication facilities and killing fathers and breadwinners and women and babies and making thousands of people homeless my attitude changed - we had to stay to clean up the mess of destroyed infrastructure and shattered lives.
Now I don't know. I can't believe that people could manage an invasion so incompetently. Maybe they should do the decent thing and just tell the poor Iraqis, "We are sorry, we are useless, we are leaving because we are just making things worse. Sorry."

Peter Hollingworth, Lindy Chamberlain,

Sir John Kerr, Justice Lionel Murphy, Christopher Skase, and now Sheik Hilali were hounded as if we were a pack of mongrel dogs. Where was the pack when men were yelling out to women "Show us yer tits"? Where is the pack when generally a guy slinks into a porno video shop and hires a porno generally about women demeaning themselves? Where is the pack against prostitution and strip joints? Where is the pack against the producers of pornography and hard core porn computer games? This morning I heard Carl of ice skating fame on Ch 9 telling Mr Kaisar Trad "We demand better; You have to tell your leaders to pull their finger out and get them to realise they cannot talk about our women as meat." Good one Carl. Where were you telling the spokesmen for the Catholic Church "We demand better; You have to tell your Archbishop that he can't say that about homosexuality?" Where were you Carl telling the Union leaders "We demand better; You have to tell your members they cannot scream out 'Show us yer tits' from the top of their construction site"? Where are you Carl telling the suppliers of film making products "We demand better; You have to tell your buyers they cannot make porn"? Where are you Carl telling the Advertising Council "We demand better, you have to tell your members they cannot use titillating images to sell cars or ice-cream"? You're pretty silent Carl, I can't hear you. There are too many of them and they are too big are they? You are brave enough only to hunt in a pack against an individual like Lindy Chamberlain and Sir John Kerr and Justice Lionel Murphy and former GG Peter Hollingworth and now Sheik Hilali.

Monday, October 30, 2006

it's better to vote for the conservatives

because they get money to run government things from their friends in big business. The only way Labor can get money is to put taxes on everyone.
You're joking right?
What do you mean?
Well where do you think Conservatives get money for public service and hospitals and schools and the defence forces?
I thought Woolies and Packer and BHP and the banks gave it to them as long as they kept inflation down and interest rates low.
OK, well I'll stay with you for the moment. So where does Labor get its money from?
Well I assumed it got it from Unions and by putting taxes on the ordinary individual instead of big business.
So are you paying taxes now?
Yair. Keating left this huge defecit and Costello has to keep the taxes on to pay back Keating's debts. Thats why I wouldn't vote Labor again.
So when Costello has paid back all of Keatings debts that means we won't be paying taxes right?
Well don't take my word for it. You sound sceptical but that's the way it was explained to me.
So as soon as Keating's debt is paid, who will pay for the hospitals and schools and army and public service?
Well like I said, Packer and BHP and the banks and mines and all the big people. That's why we are Howard's battlers. He looks after us little people by making the big people pay taxes. Labor and Beazeley are going to tax us little blokes.
You're not joking are you? That is how you understand the tax and the political system.

I had a nightmare

the other night that the drought had broken. I was pleased for all the fish and sheep and galahs and of course the small time farmers. But the pumps started up and the Darling began to flow backwards again as the irrigators upstream grabbed the water to store in their dams while it was there. The politicians breathed another sigh of relief as they could stall doing anything about water policy until the next drought.
Water policy in Australia is the most serious issue - more important than foreign affairs and industry development and interest rates and I thought it had been solved by the previous Deputy PM. What has happened?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

what I was trying to say about

tantalising images was that there is such a recognition in society that people can be influenced by them that we have censors for television and movie and video or computer games but we do not have them for real life situations. Everyone needs to be responsible for their own actions - that is not the issue. But if we have a censors trying to limit the damage that a tantalising TV image might cause, then maybe there ought to be some standard to limit the damage that a tantalising real life image may cause. This is the context in which I took the Sheik Hilali's remarks. Besides which I have heard similar sentiments expressed by WASPs so it is hypocritical to only castigate the Sheik even though he could have chosen his metaphor a bit more contextually appropriately.

Friday, October 27, 2006

what the Christian Bible says

about modesty: From 1 Tim 2.9 "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes but with good deeds appropriate for women who profess to worship God." Furthermore Paul to Timothy goes on "And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."
We all need to as the saying goes take a cold shower before condemning anyone. The Sheik used a contextually inappropriate metaphor probably on account that he was unaware that "meat" for women was a real put down in the unenlightened days of sexism in Australia. We have censors of TV to ensure programmes are appropriately classified for the very purpose of ensuring tantalising images of either a provocative or violent nature are not viewed by the public.
Then we need to reflect that it was not so long ago that the "AIDS was God's revenge on homosexuality" slogan was being whispered in our community - another instance of victim blaming. We did not suggest then that the whisperers be deported.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

so Sheik Hilali should be kicked out

of Australia and the sadists who violated a girl should be allowed to stay but tried as adults? I imagine Bennelong 200 years ago discussing the new arrivals: "Hey Gungibil, we need to do something about Gubnor Pilip. It is wrong that he is violating our value of respect for the land. He should leave. We have been tolerant enough!"
My understanding is that Sheik Hilali is an Australian citizen like Pat Dobson and Van Nguen and Shapelle Corby and John Howard and David Hicks and Mark Philippousis. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Goward should accept that people wearing strange clothes speaking in an accent and worshipping in a different way have as much right to live in Australia as other non-Aboriginal Australians. Might Goward be as wrong to malign on the basis of migrant or race or religion as Hilali was wrong in referring to women as "meat"?
I learnt that two wrongs do not make a right. You should learn that too Pru.

why not kick the sadists out too?

Where do we kick them to? Who is WE? Why stop at Sheik Hilali? Why not kick out Bob Brown and the Greens and the Labor Party? They obviously don't agree with US. Why not kick out the Aborigines as well? They don't have the same respect for material things as WE do. Did we kick out the chauvinists who referred to women as "meat" 30 years ago? Why not kick them out now as well - just to show WE are not prejudiced like the Sheik, - nudge nudge, wink wink - MOSLEMS, is.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I didn't get to Church until

half way through the Old Testament reading on Sunday. I got to the Unigate PMV stop in plenty of time at 8.25 and eight buses came before I decided it was my turn to get the next one that came. The driver I think had remembered me from his previous trip half an hour before so he pulled up right in front of me and the rest was up to me to push and shove and hold my bag close to me to prevent pick pocketing and act as uncivilly and as ungraciously and as un Christianly as possible which I did. I've climbed in through the window once before but it really is a very rude practice to queue jump and shows disrespect for other travellers. In some places queues are reasonably orderly but generally getting on a PMV at peak load times is not a pleasant experience. But I still like the travel part because it is not so isolating as the private transport experience is.
Pushing and shoving is not confined to here. I went to a Benny Hinn "crusade?/healing ministry?" at the Sydney Entertainment Centre about 8 years ago and the ushers had to suggest to the crowds that that they should remember they were Christians and that pushing and shoving was hardly a loving way of behaving.

Monday, October 23, 2006

perverts and deviants

go into locked web sites to perve on pornography. If I looked out my top floor flat in Sydney and perved on my neighbour with binoculars, I would be arrested. If I put a video system in my flat and rented it out so I could perve on the tenants I would be exposed by Current Affair and I should be arrested. That is deviant behaviour. So why is it alright for Google Earth to perve on me from space and take a photo of me reversing out of my driveway on 23 June 2005 at 2.16 pm on a work day when I had told my boss I was sick in hospital? Why is it alright for one country to perve on the defence and other activities of friendly or hostile nations by means of satellites and unmanned drones? Why is this activity not being called for what it is - perverted and deviant behaviour? Why are we not distancing ourselves from a country which behaves like this? And why when I want to go to Pine Gap and take photos myself and be equally deviant am I not allowed to even take my camera inside?

Hungary 50 years ago

My Father very rarely got cross. But fifty years ago he got cross with us when we were talking about what we wanted for Christmas. He was never one for commercialised Christmas anyway but he made us stop and think about the wretched people of Hungary, the people of Franz Liszt's music, who had been invaded by the USSR.
Christmas for Dad meant a celebration of the love of God that he would send his Son to live among people who since the Flood had been rebellious against love for anyone else but themselves.
Thank you for this lesson Dad. Fifty years ago and I still remember it.

the enemy has a gun in its hand

NOT a football or a cricket ball! It is an insult to past and present servicemen and women that reporters and sub editors use the war imagery to write a catchy metaphor for a sporting event. The Rugby League State of Origin earlier this year at last freed itself from the "Blues are in enemy territory" hyperbole and the commentators are to be congratulated for that. But then I heard last night that Australia had defeated the "old enemy" England in the cricket in India! The old enemy had a cricket bat or cricket ball in their hand. Tell the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that their enemy only has a cricket bat and ball in their hand!
Sub-eds and writers, have a bit of respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line in the service of this country. Sporting and political rivals are just that - they are rivals and opponents but they are certainly NOT enemy.

eh, yu wait man huh? - what's up with yu huh?

This is not directed at me but it is a derisive put down of a fellow PNGn who is seen to be doing unPNGn things such as not taking care of their blood relatives. PNGns see it as a trait of wait man that we do not look after those we should be responsible for such as our parents when they turn grey of hair. I was talking this morning about nursing homes in Australian and my PNGn colleague told me that when they see their countrymen acting irresponsibly in this matter, then they tell them "Eh, what's with yu? Yu wait man huh? You greedy man huh? Yu strong man now, but we'll see."
I am sorry that the truth of the behaviour of which I am representative is recognised as being ugly. We in the West think that our #@&* doesn't stink but these people know ugliness when they see it. What can we do about it?
As for the previous article, K13 buys nearly a six pack of SP beer (K15.55)! I prefer to miss out on the weekend's paper SMH, Australian, Courier Mail - which comes on a Sunday - in favour of a 6 pack.
Back to the blood relative. PNGns also adopt children and in this way this is their social security in their old age. How much more personal is this than to be cared for by kind and underpaid nurses?

I had my colds wrapped last week

in a SMH paper dating from around Australia Day so it was interesting to read in hindsight what was topical about that time. Australian papers are about K13 (say $A 6) but on volunteer wages they are not really affordable regularly so I ask for my colds (meat, milk, cheese) to be wrapped.
I particularly enjoyed the cartoon on the letters page. It showed a teacher in front of a blackboard (how so-ooo last century is that?) with the lesson plan in response to the teacher's speech bubble "It's time for our lesson on Australian Values" written on the board - 1. Sledging; 2. Tax dodging; 3. Consumerism; 4. Getting pissed!

Friday, October 20, 2006

soccer grand final last weekend

the green team beat the red team. That is the recently opened Catholic Church in the background. Soon cricket will start.

just in case, I took another bag of meat

in case Lucky might still have been around. She wasn't there.
Death has been close to consciousness this week. Peter lost his brother in a car accident last weekend so I went to the haus krai at Tent Siti with my volunteer wontok yesterday after work. I hadn't actually been in to Tent Siti although I had been past it before on the way to Bumayong. The family were very kind to welcome us as mourners and we sat on the coconut palm branches and I felt a sense of privilege that I was allowed to be part of this sacred memorial of Apo, the young man who died.
Wendy was there and Betty, Cynthia and Delilah. Their faces were painted with mourning clay and they spoke to me as if it was the most natural thing in the world that a waitpela man from another culture was participating in the grieving. On leaving, the children - about a dozen of them walked us up to the main road where we caught a PMV back to the top gate.
I have been in PNG nearly a year now (four days short) and I feel so honoured that people have let me into this most intimate of life's emotions as they share their grief. I did not think that I would get so close to people.

I've never been this popular before

so I am thinking of getting a job as a celebrity. Or maybe it might be that i am just charismatic? I was busy at my desk the other day when staff came and told me that Ben was outside and wanted to see me. I went out and couldn't recognise anyone so I asked who wanted to see me. A person told me they were from my church. I didn't recognise them in that context either so I told them I was busy and went back to work. Half an hour later staff came and told me another name wanted to see me so I went out and a colleague followed. I asked the person what they wanted and they moved away so my colleague couldn't hear (and neither could I) so my colleague said what is it you want? Is it work related? No? Then go away. We have work to do.
Why would someone find out where I worked? I assume they wanted money. This morning someone rang me on my mobile but I could not understand what they wanted. They addressed me by name but the line dropped out. Why pick on me? Don't they have wonkoks of their own? I've got my own wontoks back in Australia - don't they realise that? They are not the only ones with wontoks. Why ask a volunteer? Why don't they ask a contracted or consultant worker on heaps of money? I've just had a nasty thought. What if ASIS is on to me?

Weapons of mass destruction mkII

"We will take preemptive action if we discover N Korea is transferring nucular weapons to Iran or Al Qaeda." Thus spake the new emperor of the world yesterday.
Now where have I heard that line before? I should not be surprised if in the next few weeks I see Condi Rice at the UN with photos of trucks with cargo labelled "Handle with care. Nuclear Bomb. Do not drop. Fragile. This side up. To Mr O.B. Ladin. Chief Executive, AQ Corporation, c/- The Hills, Afghanistan. 4765. Product of N.Korea. Certificate of Authenticity - K.J. Ill. Ingredients: Plutonium, Yellow Cake, Heavy Water, Enriched Uranium, Aluminium Tubes, Monosodium Glutomate, Preservative 414, Artificial colouring, Caramel flavouring."
Look, we got photos! Yeah I know, but this time it's true. Fair dinkum. Cross me heart. Would I lie to you. Hey, c'mon guys, you gotter believe me.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On the same day I grieve about Lucky

I read this advertisement in the National:
"Port Moresby General Hospital
Public Notice.
The PMGH is currently overcrowded with corpses. The general public is advised that the number of unclaimed corpses in storage stands at 39 adults and 33 babies. The Morgue has gone beyond its average capacity with lengthy stays of the bodies. Relatives of the deceased are urged to come forward and claim the bodies within one week of this notice or all unclaimed bodies will be subject to mass burial. The 73 names of corpses listed above are due for mass burial by NCDC after one week of the date of this notice. The general public is asked to compile to this notice or inform appropriate concerned relative of the deceased.
Thank you.

Rest in Peace Lucky

Lucky was not there when I walked past this morning. I had gone in to Eriku yesterday afternoon and had brought home some dog meat which I was going to surreptitiosly drop for her on my way to work this morning. I'm not in a position that I can own a dog and I did not want to encourage her as a benefactor. I feel guilty and terrible that I cannot do anything. I'm here for another year and judging by the number of other strays, who would have looked after Lucky when I left? In a place where the lives of people are if not exactly wretched as they are in some parts of Africa but are nevertheless a struggle, then the plight of animals is not a high concern for many people. There is an RSPCA in Waigani but it does not seem to be a priority in the consciousness of where I am. I hope you are better off Lucky. I hope it was merciful.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I turn my head and walk past on the other side

as I encounter Lucky again today. I don't know if it is a stray. Can I say it is none of my business? No because as custodians of life the suffering of an animal is my business. Just like the fish struggling to breathe in the pitiful water hole that is left of the once mighty Darling River back home. I saw security to see if they could put Lucky out of her misery. Why can't I take her in? I'm too selfish and I don't want to be tied down. What about someone else? It's no-one's responsibility.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I think my computer is working again

I think there must have been a virus which made my machine do funny things but hopefully it has been corrected. I still can't get pictures of the weekend's soccer finals but that is a speed thing rather than a virus.

I saw Lucky this morning. This dog would have to be the worst I have seen here. He is dark skinned, no hair to protect him from the sunlight, limping, ribs and pelvis bones on display. It is cruel and I don't know what I can do. I was worried about a dog the other day whose collar looked to be too tight.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I was at a loss last night

when Robert asked me if I was going to the seminar about intermediate development strategies for Rural PNG. I had been to the seminar on Transparency International and so I went to this one. It was presented by Mr J. Maxtone-Graham and his presentation particularly on transport systems was informative and inspiring. Showing examples from around the world as in Vietnam, Chile, India and Africa, he suggested PNG ought to develop donkey, bike and wheeled carts technology. He says he buys in bikes from China for K198. I assume he onsells these. The spare parts for bikes is not yet established as business but a critical mass of bike technology would open up business opportunity in this area. Peter our guard has a bike but he can't get parts. He is trying to bearings. The condition of the roads wears the tyres out but Peter has found a way to put double tyres on and he patches up worn spots with punctured tubes. I've seen a few wheelbarrows but beast of burden technology (donkey carts) I think is yet to be developed. The point Mr M-G was making was that wheeled technology as in a bike could be used to transport goods if it was fitted with a frame or even pushed as the load bearing prime mover.

I find it difficult to learn

Tok Pisin. But I am teaching English to students for whom English is a third language after Tok Ples and Tok Pisin. That they are able to write, think and communicate in a third language is a reason for amazement. They they do it with such ability and understanding and sophistication leaves me feeling embarrassed at my humble language skills.
It is assessment time and to witness the brain power in the essays and the ability to think on the spot and to demonstate understanding of concepts and a sophisticated range of vocabulary and ideas should convince anyone that there is a very capable educated youth resource in this country. It puts to shame the fact my own country has to offer people a second chance.

millions for literacy skills

in Australia for those who did not complete their schooling. Why? They had a choice then and now the taxpayers are to be giving them more money to do what they should have done when they had the chance. There are people here who would love the chance to go through a free and compulsory education system. In an economically developed country like Australia there is no need for people to drop out of schooling on economic grounds. They dropped out through choice to either opt out of this privilege because they did not LIKE school or they chose to so disrupt the education of other students that Principals had no other choice than to suspend them from school. I'm a left hander and I do not LIKE driving on the left hand side of the road. So what? Does that mean I can choose to drive on the right hand side?
I am not talking about the students who had difficulty with learning. I taught one boy who was mentally incapable of learning but he tried so hard and he finished Y10. I had to give him task activities - go and bring back three yellow balls and on the way to the sport shed give this to Mr Gary - to train his memory and co-ordination functionality. He completed his schooling and wherever he is now he is an asset to the community.
Why do the ones who chose to make life a misery for the teachers and other students deserve sympathy now? This society has been their plaything since they started school. On my first day one student came into the class deliberately belching and challenging me to stop him from turning the gas taps on. Oh look, I accidentally dropped a test tube. What are you going to do about it? You can't kick me out because it was an accident. He dropped out of school and now he is being offered a second chance? Too bad for the teachers and other students who had to put up with him. His attitude was "I can do whatever I like because I am a bully and you can't stop me."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

this is what it's all about

Peter and Joseph are the security guards at my complex. The little people deserve leadership. I chose to come here to give the benefit of my skills to the organisation but what is needed more than my skills is compassion and leadership.
I must be missing something. I see people with plenty wanting and getting more. I see people with not much being denied and being told there is none left for them. I must be missing something.

Pop-corn masin is back

I had been taking PNG hard biscuits - these are like beef or chicken flavoured biscuits (about 50t for a packet of 4 Sao sized biscuits) for lunch but I had run out so I went over to the bread shop across the road and bought a pie K2.50 and a dozen hot scones K4.80 which I shared out among the staff. Then I went over to my 1pm tute group and on the way I saw the Pop-corn masin was back in action. Apparently they were allowed back in order to raise funds for the lap top which was stolen through no fault of the hard working Audio Visual staff.
I can feel the warmer weather starting and with it comes power rationing.
"PNG Power has informed us that the current load shedding of power will be ongoing for the rest of the week. Approximate time is 2 hours.No particular time frame has been mentioned but mostly likely during the lunch hour- afternoon period. Staff are also reminded of their public notice in the news papers for power outage from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday 15th October."

Craters visible from Space

My witty friend Atul decided to see whether the potholes showed up on Google Earth. He is claiming naming rights over the biggest pothole at Eriku, naming it Crater Atulis 1. On Independence Drive he has named Craters Universalis I and II and on Finistere Drive he has named Craters Academica I, II, and III. At the Purari Drive Corner he has named Craters Biggestis I through to X.

Memo to Self: the stories told to me

“Would it be possible to say that there was negligence on the part of the University (no breathing gas, supple/use of overdue drugs, continuous referals, e.t.c.) that led to the unfortunate past and present deads? Tingting blong mi tasol.”
“While we are left in a limbo, Contractors which the university has been offering tenders are continuing to enlarge potholes into crators then leave them for cars to rock and roll through. That incident of hole-filling prior to the previous Council meeting has left crators at the Sarawaged Rd-residential area junction between Kofi Haus and Admin. If they allow us, we or staff children can do a better job.”
“In July, those contractors left unfilled crators in that stretch Sarawaged Rd between Sepik Dr and Fly Dr with bags of crushed pebbles (seemingly swept from our road-side) branches and concrete pieces on road-sides probably daring residents to fill the crators themselves.
How do those responsible for these sorts of contractors feel whenever they drive through these shabby work? Who are the ones offering those contracts? Questionable award of contracts are being asked and a lot of stories have emenated. Amazing how people seem to know who is connected with which business organisations. Give the responsibilities of tendering and contract award to expatriate HODs. I suggested that because this is the section of the community least likely to be awarding contracts to wantoks, family members, wan lotus or their own hidden shonky business organisations.”
“The delay is due to non reply to my letter to the person in charge of the Grounds. We need Administration's logistic support and that this is not to discredit the Ground Section's efforts in looking after the University. It is supposed to be a free community service rendered to the community we live in. I need the support of the Bursar and the Head Buildings and Grounds.”
“As this email indicates, almost six weeks ago, on 19 August 2006, you told everyone you were going to do something about the holes in the road. When will you be informing us of the progress you are making?”
“Due to overwhelming support from staff via telephone and email on the above subject, I will now seek logistics support from the administration to do the job.”

which brings me back to home

Social welfare policies have been centralised in an attempt at wealth redistribution in Australia. There is now the cargo cult mentality at home that people don't have to do anything and government will look after the social welfare and community needs. "THEY" will fix things. The concept of "YOU and I" as being responsible for community has been forgotten. I tell people, what is the good of the Dept of Community Services or Centrelink at 5.01pm or 10pm or 6.45am? They work from say 8.30 - 5.00pm and if there is a community crisis in the meantime, then go see the Salvos or St Vinnies (somehow Anglicare doesn't have the same warm and fuzzy ring to it).
The lack of real people in our lives is becoming critical. Depression, suicide, internet dating, computer games. Mate, don't tell me your problems. Tell someone who cares. Who's going to listen to you when you need someone who cares? I'm an aussie mate. I'm not a wimp. I been through tough times. Humped me swag. Been at Gallipoli. Been at the Depression. Got me dog. What else does a man need. Go and tell that to the Matthew Talbot Hostel.

I had to drive teachers home

after work last Saturday and as we bounced over potholes the conversation turned to that topic. "Ausaid should have fixed all the roads at the same time as it fixed the ones at Market." That is what I was told by educated people. Why should Ausaid do it? They always do things like that. It is their responsibility. I beg your pardon? This is an independent country with a government which has responsibility for infrastructure. It collects revenue. It needs to prioritise. What is more needed at the moment - military and defence capability? Or infrastrucure development?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I don't know why the pop-corn machine

isn't there anymore. I was a regular pop-corn eater for a long time and then work took me away from it and then when I returned there was no pop-corn. Another mystery of the universe but like everything else it has its answers in rumours or facts. Money from the sale of popcorn was for student amenities but like everything it went into one bucket and there was none left to buy the raw product. Another one was that it was closed by management because it was costing power. Another one was that it was closed by management because a lap top was stolen durin lunch hour. I liked pop-corn. I used to buy two packets and share it among my office colleagues.

they tell me out of frustration

Maybe I shouldn't know what I know and as one friend who is in a position to know told me, you only know a little bit. The place is full of rumours and facts so why leadership is not hosing things down is beyond my understanding. It is shattering morale and people talk as one way of getting their sense of hopelessness off their minds. When people talk to an ex-pat like me then things are serious. There is no reason I should be taken into confidence because I can't do anything but people are fed up. They drive on the grass because the roads are in such a state. They hang around. There is a physical absence of leadership. There is no-one around. Soldiers without a General become dispirited, morale drops and the war is lost. I am hanging in because it is my choice. I choose to be here. If I complain then it is only because I complain on behalf of those who deserve better - the students and the staff. They deserve leadership.

Yesterday I booked myself home

for Christmas. I went into town in the afternoon. I was told to take the truck but I wanted to have another PMV ride. I am worried now that I might be a PMV ride addict. I get a hit out of taking the challenge, of getting into one of these "vehicles" belching smoke, crabbing down the road, of watching through the rust holes and cracks the road zip by.
I had to go into town to post my assignment and while I was there I saw the travel agent to book my return home flight for Christmas. Oh, and I got some money out. I was down to bare coins after "lending" some more money. I hope I don't owe anyone.

Monday, October 09, 2006

my bush knife is 52cms

I'm not sure if I said before about the time I took one back to Matt in Lismore. I got out of the airport in Brisbane and couldn't wait to give it to Matthew. they are of different sizes - the big ones for lopping bananas, middle size like mine for all purpose and the 40cm ones for chopping the lids off kulau (coconut juice). Anyway I got Matt a middle sized one like mine which he now uses for carving meat. So I said to Matt inside the terminal, Here, open this. I got it for you. He saw the shape and told me no Dad, if that's a bush knife, not in here. There's terrorism laws. They'll lock us up. That took the sting out my excitement I had for giving him a PNG present. Undeterred I let him drive me back to Lismore - about a 2and half hour trip from Brisbane. We called into the Hilltop hotel to get some beers on reaching Lismore and some clown from a rival Rugby club wanted to have a go at Matt. I thought it was good natured banter so I thought I would add to the banter with a Mr Bean impression. I ran out to the car to get the 50cm bush knife and was about to reenter the pub wielding this mini sword around my head when fortunately Josie, Matt's girl friend cautioned me that a Mr Bean impression at that particular time might not be such a good idea. What do they say? You can knock the man out of the boy but you can't knock the boy out of the man.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

what the fuss was about

Politicians and others were embarrassed about this picture in the paper the other day. You want to know what a bush knife is? It is more than a pocket knife - about 80cms long - that's what these men are holding.
I couldn't get this picture to upload at the time but it belongs with the story in Wednesday's (I think) National.

from the tropics to Iceland

Greetings Cynthia, Jessica, Tom and Baby x. If you are reading this you must have worked out how to log onto my web log.
It rained most of last night but is dry now although still overcast. I finished my French assignment on Les Liaisons dangereuses, just have do the bibliography and will post it tomorrow.
I got to church (lotu) today - the first time I have been able to get there on a Sunday for two months as we have been rewriting the Adult Matriculation courses with teachers who have time to do it only on a weekend.
I so missed Church - the friends I had made there, having a cup of tea afterwards with them, and the choir - beautiful Melanesian harmonies. Harold one of the blokes was at school shortly after Fr Ron Morris whom you know Cynthia from St Luke's.
Lukim yu wanem yu go bek long Australia.

I'm a very happy blogger...

I feel PNGan again! It rained all last night and I walked from the flat up to the Unigate PMV stop and I stood in the rain and mud and waited for a PMV to come. I was able to get the first one and so for the fifteen minute trip into Eriku there was me and 25 other PNGans travelling together on part of life's journey. We sit on the PMV with seats propped up with a battery and others with milk crates held in place by rubber tyre tubing; the seats are covered with sweat hardened towelling material; the sagging roof upholstery is torn and held together with duct tape; the windscreen is cracked in several places; lais and other floral decorations swing across the windscreen. I feel the excitement of being on guard and the dread of possibly being pick pocketed. I have made it to church. Now I have to get home. There are not many buses at the top town stop. I clutch my bag as a bus comes along. There's a big crowd at Eriku so instead of waiting for a Unigate bus I get one to Kamkumung. I will never again complain about going via Kamkumung. That is five trips I did today. I remember now the feeling of immeasurable relief at having made it back to Unigate. That is what I have missed and that is what I love.

another highlands

Simbu cultural dancers.

Friday, October 06, 2006

aha, I think I have worked out

why I have been feeling out of ordinary. It is nearly two months since I have had to do my grocery shopping by PMV. I had to take the departmental troop carrier in to Bugandi High to pick up a teacher and I saw the PMV spurting black smoke heading towards me and I realised I was missing the thrill of the PMV ride and the company of the travellers. It is an unpleasant experience to be pickpocketed at the PMV stop but it is a pleasurable experience to sit down next to someone, to be shown which PMV to catch, to be taken under the protection of a traveller, to be given cautionary tales about what to do, to be fussed over by the regular nationals travellers. That's it - I miss being fussed over.
Matt loved the experience of PMV riding. I showed him how to do it the first day and then he went in each time on his own. He couldn't get enough of it in his short stay here. Watch out come Sunday. There I will be at the Unigate at 8.30 trying along with 100 other people to get on the 22 seater, jostling, walking in the puddles, being beaten to a seat by a window climber, being mindful of the mother and child, waiting for the next 22 seater and jostling with the crowd now built up to 120. The thrill of the crush and being with other people. That is what I have missed.

Caution: Do not take this seriously

Any resemblance to reality is coincidental. It is fiction.
"Mr President, it's Mr Burton on the line.
Hal, good to hear from you. What's doin' buddy?
Hiya George. We got a problem with our inventories. They're way too high. We need a war to get rid of some of our ordnance.
Well, you got anything specific in mind Hal?
Well there's this tin pot little joint Tasmania down the bottom of Asia I thought you might be able to invade.
Tasmania? Nope, haven't heard of that one. Condi, what you got on Tasmania? Are they good guys or bad guys?
Well it sounds East European but it's not coming up on my list of UN countries. It could be one of these non-aligned states like Myanmar. How do you spell it?
Tasmania with a T. Down near Antarctica.
State Department hasn't got anything on it. How do you know about it Hal?
It's on my durn atlas in front of me. You gotter have somethin.
Well fax the page over and we'll do a satellite flyover.
Yeah, Hal, these little joints they change their names like Clinton changes his sheets. That's a good start for an invasion. If they've connections with AQ or Iran then Condi will get the Diplomatic Incident task force onto it. It could take a day or two to manufacture an incident but we could probably get a war on say by the end of the week. How does that sound?
Thanks buddy. Knew I could count on you.
A little while later.
Mr Burton, it's the President.
George, thanks for getting back. What have you got?
Yeah Hal, the news isn't good. Tasmania isn't an independent state which is why we couldn't find it. It belongs to Australia and State Department says they're on our side. They're good guys.
Durn it. Well can Condi check out this other place? New Zealand. It sort of sounds foreign.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Political Response - PM.

"By FREDDY GIGMAI. PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare went on air yesterday to tell the country that he was ashamed to see people showing bush knives in public places. He was referring to the front page photograph in The National yesterday showing a group of people from Enga brandishing bush knives, sticks and pieces of wood marching along the street in Lae on Tuesday. These Engans were on their way to a peace meeting with Western Highlanders after an Engan, who refused to pay his 50 toea bus fare, was killed allegedly by the PMV driver and his crew last Saturday. Their actions brought Lae city to a standstill on Tuesday as many shops, schools and offices closed their doors. PMV operators also pulled their buses off the roads.Sir Michael also warned students at the University of Technology, and other universities in PNG, that laws will be enacted to ensure students who bring bush knives and any form of weapons onto the school grounds are terminated. The Prime Minister’s warning comes after Unitech students went on a rampage last Saturday and destroyed a residential property, leaving four families homeless, and the 140 Club at Tent City to avenge the death of a student from Mul Baiyer in Western Highlands province. Earlier police reports said the student was shot dead during a brawl some metres from the club after a fundraising dance. The suspect in the shooting incident, and those involved in the brawl, has surrendered to the authorities. “We will terminate students who bring weapons such as bush knives into the university; they should go and stay in the bush if they don’t want an education. “We will introduce tougher penalties to discipline university students,” Sir Michael told NBC radio. He said the ethnic clashes in Port Moresby and, now, Lae have portrayed a very bad image of PNG. “ We must change, look after our country and show that we are proud of our country,” the Prime Minister said. “Others around the world would see and read about this problem and think that PNG is still 300 years behind the rest.”He said there was no need to link one single incident to everyone. “This mentality of the fifties and sixties must stop. ”He particularly called on Highlanders, especially their political leaders and parliamentarians, to take a good look at the problem and treat it once and for all. “If the Sepiks do such things, I will discipline them,” Sir Michael said."
Source: Post Courier, 5th Oct.

Freeee, I am freeee!

I had my blood test for malaria yesterday and I went over to get the results just now and the nurse said it was negative. So I don't know what my niggling headache was yesterday. I was so happy I came back and told my class, "You are looking at the healthiest person in the room. I am freeee!" I love having a bit of a muck around with them. They are good natured 18-19 year olds and they smile politiely and some even are kind enough to LAUGH at my jokes!
I love the smiles of these people. As a group they are so smiley with big wide grins of delight to be alive. That is why it is difficult for them when things go wrong as they have done over the last few weeks. These happy good natured smiling people have been immediately confronted with serious issues. It seems so foreign to the lifestyle of delight.
If I said it before I can't remember but it is worth saying again. I was sitting in the Language staff room the other day and Dr John came in with a bowl of mumu which he had just bought outside at the private stall run by a family in need. "Here Geoffrey, go and get one for you. They are a deserving family and this will help them." He gave me four kina as I did not have my wallet. And they call this an undeveloped country? Smilers all, rejoice!

I don't know if I did the right thing

yesterday. An acquaintance rang up and told me they were hungry and hadn't had anything to eat and they needed money. I met them and gave them K5. The previous day John had given his last K10 to the brothers at the church and I felt I should try to follow this selfless example. This acquaintance has a job and comparatively, anyone with a job is rich. The security guards don't earn much - about 90t an hour - but comparatively they are on less than the acquaintance's wage. Last week I gave K40 to Peter to help him get to his nephew's funeral. The previous week I had given K70 to a wonwok to help them get to a funeral. Each week I pay my haus meri K40 - even when I went on Leave without pay to go back to sort things out with Matt. I wasn't getting money coming in myself but I had to pay money out to someone else. As a volunteer I am on the same wage as nationals but as a wait man I am seen as having more that can be given away. The security guards are on so little so I prefer to help them when I can and my church. As well as that there are the beggars on the streets who are always after me for money simply on account of being a wait man. And then there are the pickpockets who take from you anyway without asking.
So why do I feel as though I did the wrong thing yesterday? Because the K5 that went there is not available to go to Peter or Joseph who never ask for anything.
As well, the wealth of those with wealth is obscene and they want more. Worse than pigs at a trough, the corruption snorts into its own pockets any extra scamming allowances it can get hold of for its own selfish use. The little that I gave away last week is a drop compared with what corruption took for itself.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

PMV stop top town Lae

A consequence of the death of the Wabag man was that buses are now on strike - owners have withdrawn their services and some PMVs have been commandeered by the Wabags until compensation for the death of the traveller - see story on avoiding 50t fare from Post Courier.
Matt took this about 6 weeks ago.

from The National Wed 3 Oct

"PNG’s second city, Lae, was thrown into chaos yesterday amid fears of yet another ethnic war between people from two Highlands provinces. About 300 angry mud-smeared Engans wielding bush knives, sticks and iron bars marched from Kamkumung to Eriku oval in Lae city to protest the killing of one of their tribesmen by the driver and crew of a PMV bus last Saturday. Western Highlanders, who own most of the PMV buses operating in Lae, withdrew their vehicles from the city roads yesterday fearing retaliation and also to demand police intervention to retrieve 11 25-seater PMV buses that were forcefully taken from them by the Engans. The city has been in fear for a week now following the raid by 1,000 Unitech students on Sept 30, which left four families without homes and thousands of kina worth of properties destroyed.Lae residents and Morobeans have, this week, called for the expulsion of illegal settlers as a result of constant violence in and around the city precincts. Yesterday, tension was high about a possible ethnic clash between Engans and Western Highlanders over the death of a man identified as Keken Karapen of Kupin village in Wabag, Enga province. Karapen succumbed to injuries he sustained during an argument over the non-payment of a 50t bus fare last Saturday. In a move reminiscent of Port Moresby early in August, PMV operators pulled their buses off the road as early as 8am and stayed away all day to await the outcome of a meeting between the two conflicting parties at Eriku later in the day. The shutdown on the public transport system affected schools, Government departments and businesses as well as ordinary people who were not able to do their shopping and marketing. Many students turned up late for classes while employees turned up late for work. Many of the students and workers preferred to stay at home as they were not sure whether the PMVs would be back on the road in the afternoon. Lae police yesterday brokered a peace meeting between the two groups. In that meeting, Engans demanded for K150,000 in compensation from the Western Highlanders. Both parties agreed to meet again next Saturday, and settle some of the compensation demand.Addressing the peace meeting, Lae Metropolitan commander Supt Simon Kauba reminded everyone that Lae city did not belong to any particular ethnic group. He said it was not right for people to mobilise in provincial groups and address problems. “If you want to do that, go back home; you do not belong here. “People from all over Papua New Guinea live here and, when you do these things, everyone suffers. Many of them are the innocent people,” Mr Kauba said." Comment: I am not sure that the underlined sections are helpful in trying to resolve the situation.

more cultural festival

this time Manus or Popondetta I think. I just checked with Sanga our printer. We have our patronal festival in a month and also the Morobe Show where there will be more cultural displays.
Don't you just gotter love people who take their culture and traditions so respectfully. You wonder how a minority could do the crimes that were written about here over the last few weeks. Everything else is just so sincere and kind and woderful.

finally after nearly two months

I got to church again yesterday. John took me in. We hadn't been able to go because we had been working on weekends with the teachers from schools to help rewrite the Adult Matriculation Courses. I normally can get there on a Tuesday but getting home is a problem as the PMVs don't run after after about 5.30. I met another sort of volunteer worker, ex-VSO from England but Nigerian in origin, working on HIVAids with Anglicare, name Kola.
The Psalm and the reading from Job were so meaningful. Ps88 "O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave...But I cry to you for help O Lord."
I've got a slight headache today and I don't think I am over the malaria yet so I'll have to go back to the clinic to get a blood check again.

fight outside Foodmart

top town Lae.
Photo courtesy www.schilt.info

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

from post courier mon 2 oct

Man killed for running away from 50t bus fare
By PETER KORUGLA MAN who tried to run away from paying a 50 toea PMV fare was killed in Lae on Saturday.Police confirmed the death last night, saying the man died from the beatings he received from bystanders at the Eriku bus stop.“The deceased tried to flee after he got into an argument with the crew of the PMV bus. As you know, Saturday was usually crowded at Eriku and the people who were there thought the man was trying to run away from a crime so everyone attacked him,” a Lae police source said.Police said the man, believed to be from Wabag, got on the PMV at Kamkumung and rode up to Eriku.“He got off the bus and did not pay the 50 toea fare. Such a small amount of money got him killed,” a police source said.Police said the relatives retaliated and attacked Western Highlands PMV operators in the city and snatched at least six PMVs.It was not known whether the buses had been returned but the police task force was taking care of the situation.This was the second death reported in Lae over the weekend. Earlier, a Technology student was also murdered.“We are getting at least one to two deaths from violence each weekend in Lae. This is stretching our resources,” the police source said.The same sentiment was shared by the Angau Memorial Hospital which also said its resources were being stretched while trying to attend to injuries and deaths from violence in Lae.

50toea = half Kina. K1 = $A0.42

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy Birthdays

Ankita and Annie-Grace today; Giles who I missed on the 16 inst; and Summer 29th inst who I missed on account of my proximity to equator or international dateline or some other quirk of chronology. Cheers Ankita - I enjoyed chocolate cake with Mama and Papa today in the Department. I would be interested in in the play you are doing - Aristophanes? Sorry you were not able to join me at Brisbane several weeks ago.
I watched the AFL grand finalk at the yoti as Roger's guest on Saturday and last night we mainly AVIs and associates watched the ARL at home. On Friday night we had bambu mumu at Robert's Ellie - poked rice and vegetables into a bambu tube and Robert cooked it over a coconut shell and husk fire. Ellie explained that bambu was traditional vessel in places where there were no pots.

at a weekend school once

in Sydney for an external studies course (Ancient History) through UNE I met a fellow student who it turned out was a prisoner on day release from Emu Plains. I was going up to Katoomba and we caught the same train. I had a heavy bag and he asked me squash two packets of roll your own tobacco into one. Maybe I should not have aided and abetted (he was only allowed one packet) but I did.
He was wanting to turn his life around. Since about 9 he had decided he wanted to be a criminal. He began by wanting to be respected among the junior criminal gangs. He drank bootpolish and metho to toughen up his stomache and he smoked until he was sick.
Why? It was how he could gain respect and criminal life was a place you could get respect. But can't you get respect in civil society? Why do you have to go in that direction? I corresponded a couple of times but we lost touch. If civil society is pushing people away from it through condoning bullying and not tolerating diversity of opinions and not respecting certain people then it should not be surprised at the consequences it brings on itself. Suicide, people dying alone and unnoticed, loneliness, internet friendships, virtual friendships, reality TV. I worry about the long term community consequences of pushing people to the brink. Will we still have community in 10 years time?

I'll let you know something else

about where I am coming from. I taught for many years in schools where I saw children bullied and left out of playtime and picked last for the team game and had their self esteem squashed out of them by bullies. They would sit by themselves. They might find a friend in a grade two classes below them. The most frustrating thing in teaching was to see the way bullies were able to get a whole class to deride one single child. I saw children wanting to invite others to a birthday party but the "team" put fear into any child who went. I saw children longing to be invited to a party but who were left off the invitation list. As a Father Christmas in a shopping centre once I had a girl tell me that all she wanted was a friend in school. No dolls, nothing. Just a friend in school. Being of a teaching background I got out of my Santa seat and spoke to the Mother. What could I say to that child, about 9 years old?
I wonder what these attitudes and values did to the children and how it affected them in later life. I still see loners and bullies. No man is an island. We are a social being and my dread is that community is becoming more isolating and more lonely for the individual members of the community. If one tries to set oneself up as an island or one tries to isolate another person, something will crack. We are not solitary. We do need each other. That is what I am seeing in PNG - how these people living in undeveloped conditions care for each other. That is why I am passionate about caring community in my own country.

Dear Realist - that's better

Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting. I am proud of my ancestry in the same way most people are even proud that they have convict heritage. You are the one who started the "hatred and bile" with the "bitter, loser, sad, twisted, fool" line and I am not going to be bullied by this name calling and this attempt at a put down.
Now let's get down to business. I don't know what crimes Mr David Hicks, Citizen of Australia is guilty of. That is the purpose of a court to find out. How come you know that he is guilty? My point all along has been that people like Mr David Hicks Citizen of Australia, Martin Bryant of Port Arthur infamy, the recent massacrist in the USA along with other massacrists such as at Columbine High have fallen through the community support system because community itself has broken down. You can mistreat a dog but if it gets the chance it will bite.
If an Australian has let the team down, it says more about us that we turn our backs on him than it says about him. Blokes who pinched food in the POW camps, the bloke on the Burke and Wills trip who pinched food might have let themselves and the side down but mates still carried them on. That is where I am coming from. I am trying not to judge lest I myself be condemned. But I am entitled to an opinion. That is what democracy is about. An opinion without being bullied.