Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sunrise in Madang

Took this photo of Madang town habour early in the morning.



Isnt the place just beautiful....!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adolescent Smoking in PNG


Papua New Guninea, like so many countries in the world today face growing numbers of adolescents who take up tobacco smoking

But why should we be concerned? Well the World Health Organisation reports that the use of tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world with more than 5 million people worldwide dying from tobacco use annually (WHO 2009a). It also says that the burden of tobacco use is greatest in low and middle-income countries and is predicted that, if very little is done to curb tobacco use and current trends continue, tobacco use will kill more than 8 million people worldwide each year by the year 2030, with 80% of these premature deaths in low-and middle-income countries (WHO 2009a; Anderson Johnson et al. 2006; Devlin, Eadie, and Angus 2003).

According to the PNG National Statistics Office, from the 1990 Census, the projected number of young people in 2010 would stand at 1,243,138 who are aged between 10-19 years old and they would make up 22.6% of the total population (NSO 2004). So this means that 2 out of every 10 people in PNG today, is aged between 10-19 years old. This age group of young people are at a time of transition from childhood to adulthood and are most vulnerable to developing smoking habits that lead up to adulthood (Mitchell, Rosenberg, and Wood 2008).

As experienced in other countries, adolescents in Papua New Guinea can be vulnerable to the tobacco use due to factors such as stress (Byrne, Byrne, and Reinhart 1995; Anderson Johnson et al. 2006), sensation seeking (Urban 2010), experimentation, peer use and peer perception (Krisjansson et al. 2010) or even with parents smoking (Melchior et al. 2010; Hiawalyer 2002).

• Prevalence of tobacco use
Although there has been little done to find the prevalence of tobacco smoking among this age group of 10-19 year olds in Papua New Guinea, WHO statistics show 43.8 percent of young people in PNG aged 13 to 15 years old were reported to ‘currently smoke tobacco products’ (WHO 2009d) and in that same age group, the current cigarette use prevalence among boys which is 52.1%, is considered as the highest in the Western Pacific Region (CDCP 2008).

A significant research which was carried out by Gilbert Hiawalyer from the National Health Department, exemplified the grave situation on tobacco’s impact on adolescents in the country. His research on 3,000 young people aged 8-20 years in Manus and Central province showed that young children, as young as 8 years of age had began smoking. He also found that out of the 2000 adolescents in NCD, the capital city of PNG, only 10% of the males and 37% of the females were non smokers and proportionally, there was an average of two male smokers to one female smoker (Hiawalyer 2002).




Table 1 Smoking prevalence by age group



In Manus province, which is the smallest province in PNG in terms of population and land area, Hiawalyer found that of the 1,000 boys and girls he interviewed, 5% of the males and 40% of the females were non-smokers. From 2,245 smokers, he also found that the number of smokers increased with age. This, he described, was that as he moved higher in the grade levels, the number of smoker also began to increase. His study also found that smokers were influenced by their friends, parents and the media respectively (Hiawalyer 2002).


Table 2 Factors influencing smokers to smoke

Another study carried out by final year students of Divine Word University on 200 children in five primary school in the Madang Urban District found that 18% regarded themselves as smokers while 10% of them smoked three to four times daily (Ongogo, Gabuogi, and Varip 2010). The DWU researchers also found that 63% of the smokers were aged 13-15 years old, 30% were between the ages of 16-18 while 7% of these primary school children aged between 10-12 years old smoked (Ongogo, Gabuogi, and Varip 2010).

• Tobacco Uptake Factors
The Global Youth Tobacco Survey, which is a school based survey aimed at finding data on smoking among 13-15 years olds, indicates that the environment is a significant factor in young people’s uptake of tobacco products (CDCP 2007) and adolescents in PNG are no exception (Hiawalyer 2002). The environment may include family and social support networks who can influence adolescents’ smoking uptake (Mermelstein 2003).
For example, Onguglo, Gabuogi and Varip (2010) found that although 49.5% of the 200 students in Madang five primary schools indicated in a questionnaire that they knew that smoking caused lung cancer, 53% of total students who smoked said they did so because of peer pressure.

The home where a family lives can also influence smoking habits (Betson et al. 1995; Krisjansson et al. 2010). The GYTS done in PNG in 2007 also show that 73.9% of young people aged 13-15 years old are exposed to smoke at home (WHO 2009c) and Hiawalyer found that adolescents in NCD (34%) and Manus (39%) smoked because their parents did so at home (Hiawalyer 2002).

The low cost of tobacco products in Papua New Guinea is also a factor for adolescent up take of tobacco (PNGMOH 2004). An example of this would be the smoking of the ‘roll your own’ (RYO) tobacco that is being sold on almost every street corner. The situation in PNG, as in Malaysia and Thailand, the ‘Roll your own’ tobacco use is associated with living in rural areas, older average age, lower level of education, male gender, not being in paid work, slightly lower consumption of cigarettes, higher social acceptability of smoking, and positive attitudes toward tobacco regulation (Young et al. 2008). This also holds true for the PNG situation but the RYO cigarette has significantly increased in urban areas and has popular among adolescents that are in school or out of school and do not work (Lipset 2005).





This is because it is the cheapest of all tobacco products in this country as it is home grown and sold locally (FCTC Convention Secretariat 2010). It costs 10t (5 Australian cents) for one stick, isn’t taxed and carries no health warning (FCTC Convention Secretariat 2010).

Another example of cheap tobacco products would be that of the practise of selling loose cigarettes. Factory made cigarettes that come in packs of 20 that cost K11.40 are sold individually at roadside markets for 70 toea. This practise of buying single or loose cigarettes is cheaper than paying for a whole pack of 20s and young people can easily afford this factory made cigarettes for a fraction of the total price.

.........In my next post, I will highlight what WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) means to PNG and how we can do to minimise smoking rates among adolescents.





Monday, November 1, 2010

Learning about patience...

Parenting is tops…only if you have loads of patience...LOL

Im a really proud parent of a six week old girl. I love her to bits and wouldn’t trade her for zillion bucks! But I make this statement because just six weeks into having sleepless nights, im beginning to form the conclusion that if you want to be a good parent to a child, you have to be really, really patient.

Why do I say this? Well she cant talk but only feeds and sleep but if she cries, you have to figure out why. Is she hungry? Is she too hot? Is the breeze too cold? Is she too full from feeding? These and many more are things both parents have to figure out. Its is good that as we go along this journey of parenthood, you get to learn of the signs..if she is awake and too quiet, she is doing the toilet thingy; if she squirms a lot, then she may want to be washed or carried around…You have to be patient enough to go through the guess work and learn quickly what she likes best. For the past weeks, she has been keeping us awake late at night. We take turns checking on her and carrying her. You have to have patience to want to do this over a long period of time...lol...look at me, just six weeks into it and i think i've mastered parenthood...LOL. Im learning all this as i go along this journey too like so many others before me and many more after me...

I believe that parenting starts at birth but never ends. It is a life long relationship with someone you have brought into this world. They grow from an infant to toddler to young childhood to adolescents. In that time, you as a parent will be a central figure in their life. You will teach them what is wrong and what is right. You will teach them why certain things are so in society and how we should approach situations in life. We draw from our own experiences, social exchanges, cultures, formal education etc to form a structure of learning and discipline for them. In order to be better parent, you have to draw up all this and be patient enough to train them and to encourage them to live purposeful lives.

But here comes the most important part about parenting….you will love it! I have loved holding this fragile human being; I have loved squeezing her rosy cheeks and playful feet. I have loved it when she smiles and you can see the gums shining…hahahaha..She is definitely the best thing that has happened to me and I plan to enjoy being her father for a long time more!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Masuros


The last time i bought a CHM cassette was a 'Demas Saul' album at CHM Kokopo in 2001. The reason: well it was mostly because i missed Madang so much after completing my 2nd year at DWU Madang...

Well this afternoon, close to nine years later, i bought another CHM cassette. This time it was cassette titled ' the Masuro's ' from the Madang Christian Book Store. They had recorded under the CHM label in Port Moresby. I had listened to one of their songs called 'Hobi Hobi' two weeks ago while was inside the store. I waited until i had some coins, which was like today, and then went to buy it. It wasnt cheap at K17.00 but hey, somehow i just wanted to have that cassette. The Masuros are a family gospel group from Garaina in the hinterlands of Morobe Province and were formed in 2002.

Having just listened to it now im impressed by the Donna Masuro, the lead vocalist. The musical arrangement is simple and the vocals are outstanding. The song 'Lovely Lord' is a song I've heard a long long time ago in my high school days by an American band called 'Petra' and it was good to hear it again. The other songs 'Hamamas long haus' , ' Hearts' , ' Hokeetemi ' and ' Gates ' are simple songs but Donna's voice makes it easy on the ears. The song 'Hobi hobi' is still my favourite and is sung in Pidgin and Garaina.

If you have the chance to, please buy their cassette becasue im sure you will really enjoy listening this lovely album.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kumuls!


I sat on the floor looking at the tv screen. The Australian Kangaroos had beaten PNG Kumuls by 42 points. In rugby league terms, that was a total flogging.


I felt sad, angry, ashamed and even foolish. I wondered why i was so pumped at the start of the game, when the defence was outstanding and the big hits were bone jarring. I knew we had hope for an upset. When they got a penalty, i was elated. The referee was clinical but didnt have a feel for the match. I shouted everytime a huge hit was made on the kangaroos by PNG players. But by the end of the game, i felt deflated...why did i care so much for this rugby league team called the Kumuls? Did i have to feel so hurt and demoralised by the end of the game? Did it even have to matter to care?

Yes it did have to matter! We wanted to prove to the world again that rugby league was all about passion, bravery, camaraderie, skill and style. We wanted to show the world that this was our national sport, something that we cherished and to play for ones country was something to be cherished forever. We wanted to show these Australian 'professional' players who had huge salaries that money couldnt buy our love for 'the greatest game of all'. We wanted them to know we knew how to play the thinking man's game too. Above all, we wanted respect on the field.

But alas, we let the game slip out of our hands and got a 42-0 flogging. We were much better than that but we didnt get to show it. We let our mistakes ruin every oportunity we had.

I guess my post about the kumuls is a symptom of me wanting to see PNG succeed in sports at the international level. Over the years, there have been patches of brillance from individuals such Geua Tau, Ryan Pini and Dika Toua, Lynch Ipera but teams sports havent made their mark too often.

Success by PNG at the international level, in any sport, is and always should be our ultimate goal. Why? Because, as cliche as it might sound, success in sport goes a long, long way in uniting this country. The last time i celebrated and had tears in my eyes was when Ryan Pini won Gold at the Commonwealth games. He sure did make me proud to be a Papua New Guinean that night in 2006. We shouted and danced in the corridors and talked about it for days. That night was special for this country. I wanted all nights to be like that...

There are only a few sports that are played in almost all parts of PNG. Rugby league is one of them. For a sport that is well liked, it pains me to see us get 42 put aganist us.

To the Kumuls, we love you regardless because you wear the red, black and gold. Play strong in the next game against New Zealand and put some respectibility back into the jumper!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kalu-u Caves of Kurti

Manus Province is home to about 48,000 people spread across many smaller outer islands, along the coast and into the mountains. It has some of the most picturesque sandy beaches, stunning coral reefs, pretty thatched houses, striking waterfalls and the smiles of the locals can cut your heart right out. Don’t get too excited yet because the real beauty lies in the highlands of Manus.
The highlands of Manus is often mountainous, rugged and cold. In mornings, the cool mist covers the mountains and in the evenings, the water in the streams is cold as ice.
The highlands of Manus hosts a great number of people and villages. The National Highway starts from Lorengau, passes many villages including Rosun, Lundret, Kawa, Pundru and then comes to Kari village and then goes down to the north coast to Dromalmal station and Lomei village.

I live on the northern coastline so when we visit relatives at Kari, we walk uphill for four hours. Some years ago my uncles told me about three huge caves in the mountains of Kalu-u. This place called Kalu-u is about a kilometer outside of Kari village. These three caves called Lehlia, Poko-oh and Mada Worei and there are many traditional stories about how these caves came to be and who lived in them.

During one of my hilodays, I decided that I should visit these great limestone caves to see for myself once and for all the place and the legends it mysteriously held. One has to actually visit the caves to understand the uniqueness of these caves they said because these group of caves are not found anywhere else in the province.

My father and I and plus a guide left Liap, crossed over to Derimbat village and then started on the 4 hour walk from the coast up to the mountains. The mountains were steep and slippery. The earth was red and claylike. The tropical vegetation casts a spell of silence around us. We walk and rest. I was exhausted by the time we arrive at Kari. We rest and overnight at Papu Kaku’s place at Lolep.

Next morning we start for the caves. It takes about an hour to walk from the main village to where most of the caves are. There is a light shower but that did not deter us as we walked quickly through the mud and water. The air is quiet and everything around us is wet. My father said that soccer boots were the best for this type of bush track as you wouldn’t slip and I definitely didn’t argue. Along the way we had to walk over sharp limestones. It is sharp and pointed upwards. Most of the boys that we walked with just climbed up them and over the other side as if it was flat land. I knew that if I slipped, the stones could pierce my flesh like a hot knife through butter.


A small creek cuts through the mountain forming a pathway



We walk between a passage of hard black stone that cuts through a mountain. If you are claustrophobic, don’t venture down here. The dark passage has water running though it. It is also about a meter wide and 30 meters long. The hard stone walls on both sides run all the way up to about 30 meters. You can still see the sunlight above. We walk along the way with the water just above our ankles.
We then crossed over shallow streams a couple of times. The waters were cold and clean. We followed another stream and finally stand in front of a huge opening of a cave. This is the Poko-oh cave. The pebbles are numerous at the entrance of the caves. Many are round and smooth.


My father and the guides stand in front of Poko-oh



The cave itself is hard solid rock and ferns and other vegetation grow on the cave’s entrance. The cave itself is dark. We had torches to light the way and walked carefully. We enter it and the first thing I notice is the quietness. Nothing but drips of water falling from the roof onto the ground. The air is damp. I walk quickly to catch up with the others.. We walk through the cave and in a few minutes we are out on the other side. The water runs through the cave and out again.


My father just about to enter the Lehlia cave




The interior of the Poko-oh is pitch dark so we use torches to find our way around.



Our guide walks quickly and we follow on. We climb up dead logs and walk in the mud again. Then we see another cave. This is the Lehleah cave. We go in again, walk through it and out again.


The serene beauty of the cave is spectecular looking out of the cave.



One of the guides standing a log that was washed through the cave.


In some caves, the ground to the roof top to is 40 meters, in others, it is just 6 meters. The length vary from half the rugby field to about 15 meters. The air is damp and cold in some of the caves. The stone roof in some caves is flat like the belly of a gigantic serpent while in others the roof look like dripping wax from huge candles. There are puddles on the ground formed by water from the stalactites.
It gave me goose bumps just by looking at the interior of the caves. As you walk in the middle of some of the caves, you feel as though you are in another time. A time when my ancestors walked in these caves; carrying pig meat from their hunting trips and taro from their gardens. A time when they rested in the caves as it rained outside and told stories to their kids. A time when the families were strong and warriors were honoured.


The stalactities hang fromg the top of the cave creating an errie look

You think you hear voices but realize that it is only the cold water falling from the stalactites, hitting the stones below then disappearing into the ground.
In some caves, there are holes which are dry and dusty. In others they are wet, cold and slippery. I shudder to think what crawled in them. Sometimes when the river floods, huge trees are pulled by the force of the flood and they come through the caves and out the other side.


Entering the huge Lehlia cave


Outside the caves, the river banks have stones that have rounded holes causing them to look like a whole village walked on them. I imagine that it has been shaped by the river over a long period of time.


Making our way out the other end of Lehlia


The Kari river joins the head of the Worei river, flows through a cave at Mada Worei then runs quickly into a small cave on the side of a mountain. The cave then falls deep into the earth. They say it runs underground and then comes out again a few kilometers on the south coast of Manus to what is known as the mighty Worei river.
It is after midday when we make our way back to Kari. There is a market on.


The eroding state of the government road from Kari village to Dromalmal station on the coast.


We gobble up huge slices of pineapple which cost ten toea each and then follow the road down to Dromalmal station on the north coast. The government road has been reduced to a bushy track over the years.
Along the way, my father tells me that there is a water that actually comes out from a stone. The water is called ‘Wo Drahal’. I said I would only believe if I saw it.
And I did see it. The stone is located just a few minutes walk off the road. Yes, the water comes out from a stone.


Wo Drahal runs unabated. Natural water at its best!


Many travellers like myself have come here, drank from it and even filled a bottle to take away. The stone has a small hole where the water comes out, and come rain or shine and long dry periods like the one that Manus experienced during 1997 El Nino weather pattens, this one kept flowing like it had been for thousands of years. Some villagers tried to find its source so by digging around the stone to see if it flowed from somewhere. All their efforts have been in vain to identify its source. They just say it comes out from the stone and I say so myself too. The water is clean, cool and very refreshing.

Well thanks for reading this short story of mine. Hope you liked it as it was just a simple story of how God has truely blessed this country with wonderful and pure places like this.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A night at the labour ward

Its late at night.

The place is quiet as if only ghosts walk the dimly lit corridors. The tiled floor smells of disinfectant, the ceiling fan spins lazily and the mothers are sleeping on the green leather covered beds. The bleached white bed sheets and pillow cases have blue letters – MGH - written on them. It is late at night at the Modilon General Hospital’s labour ward. Close to 30 mothers are in the labour ward, some having already given birth and sleeping next to their babies while others are just entering the labour process.

I sit on a wooden bench next to the nursing sisters table. I am waiting.

The nurses talk in hush tones and scurry along the corridors to expectant mothers. There are a couple of women who walk past me with their bellies protruding infront of them, their hands at their backs and the pain is written all over their faces. The pain is so unbearable, so relentless, so sharp, so unjustified! They hang onto posts and bed frames begging for the pain to stop. The nurses tell them to keep on walking. I am surprised at how the women in the labour ward don’t scream when they have birth pains. It’s as if there is silent understanding that you do not scream until you are on the delivery bed or maybe the women are afraid the nurses might scold them.

However, inside the delivery room, I hear women shouting from pain and agony. My partner is in there too behind the closed doors. I can only look down the corridor and imagine what they are going through. My mother has been with my partner throughout the afternoon and now it is night and i can see that her eyes are bloodshot and tired from the lack of sleep. I sit still. Worried, tired, apprehensive, and biting my finger nails for the umpteenth time today. My mother comes down the corridor and signals me to follow her. She pulls me closer and says that my partner wants me to go to her. I walk past her to the delivery room.

As soon as I enter, I feel the air is cool. The air conditioner is running in the background. There are four beds and one other one for the intermediate is on the opposite side of the room. The first bed is occupied by a woman who is sleeping in the foetal position. Only her feet are visible under the hospital issued blanket. They are as pale as a bed sheet. I only later on learn that she came close to dying because of the lack of blood. I turn to the last of the four beds and see my partner on one of the bed. She lies on her side. She is the only one from the group of mother who came today, that has not given birth yet. I can see that she is in pain. She opens her mouth and screams. I have known this woman for seven years now and never heard her scream and shout like this. Tonight, these terrible and agonising screams I hear carry a terrible pain and rock me to the core. She cries out but the nurses tell her not to but to breathe and exhale when the contractions come. I hold her hand and don’t say anything. What could I say. I didn’t know what to say. She had been in terrible pain for the past 20 hours. I rub her back with a wet cloth and hold her quietly. I read in the papers that 2 babies had died in this very ward last weekend and I witnessed two more die this weekend. To further compound my uneasiness, I have heard that nine mothers have already died from child birth complications this year in this very ward.

The nurse comes in for the umpteenth time today and checks to see if the baby’s head is ready to come. This time she finally nods and says ‘its time’. They instruct her take a deep breath and to push when the contractions arrive. She does so but the baby doesn’t come. She does the same thing for almost 20 minutes. The nurses wait on her and keep instructing her on how to push. She feels weak from each push. I see the blood from her hand go back up the water drip. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see that the nurses are eye signalling each other and at the clock. Earlier one the nurses had told me that if the labour prolonged from up to 24 hours, they would induce the birth or use the vacuum the baby out, both methods not without their risks. After a few minutes, they look at me as if to gauge my approval for the use of the other methods. I quickly turn away and look at my partner. I think she quickly catches on and asks us to wait for the next contraction to come. I know that in the next few minutes could be very crucial to both the mother and baby.

She waits and then when the next contraction arrives, and through the urgings of three nurses and one to-be father, she gives a mighty push and my daughter arrives. The nurse clips the cord and cuts it and gives the baby to the mother. I am left stunned. I mean this is another human being that is removed from the body of another human and is a person of its own. She is complete in every way yet she is so fragile. She is beautiful in every way possible and her spirit is impossible to numerate in words. One look at her face is enough to light my whole week. She has my cheeks, my nose, my lips and, I dare say, my eyes too! She is perfect! They quickly take her to a machine and quickly drain the mucous from her nose, mouth and eye. I hear her cry and then a few seconds later, my mother comes in, holding her in a warm blanket and she is silent as the rising sun.

My life has surely turned for the better. If there is anything with which I was ever proud of, this would be it. The moment my daughter was born beat my every other achievement in life by a mile. This is surely what life is all about.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mt. Pawih Digicel Tower preparation

Since the introduction of Digicel to Papua New Guinea a few years ago, the country’s communication especially that of the mobile phone system has dramitcally shifted another gear. Digicel's key strategy of installing transmitter towers in almost all regions of the country, especially those in rural areas has helped people in these areas communicate to the ‘outside world’.

For the N’dritian clan of Derimbat village who are located in the North Coast of Manus Province, theirs is a dream come true for a Digicel tower to be erected on their land. The Ndritian clan is one of the largest clan in Kurti language group, whose members numbering into the thousands who live in the villages of Liap, Souh, Andra, Mundrau, Patlok, Mundrupudeu, Wamandra, Pundru with the largest group living in Derimbat. Each member of the N’dritian clan lays claim to be a landowner of Mt Pawih. Mt Pawih is next another mountain called N'druturu, both mountains famously known in the Kurti area and can be seen as far as the islands lying in the north coast area of Manus.

The clan leaders have come together, applied to Digicel and been given the go ahead by the company to start clearing the base of Mountain Pawih for the Digicel tower construction. Pawih is located in the hinterlands of the mid-north coast of Manus Island and is roughly around 700 meters above sea level.

The N’dritian clan members showed tremendous passion to climb the mountain, about 4 hours walk from the coast. It is so cold at night that sometimes the mist and dew covers the green and lush forests. Mt. Pawih is a place where tress such as Rosewood and Kwila are too many to count. This mountain has no bush tracks, but filled with bush vines that have thorns, is humid but quiet as still waters.

Mountain Pawih also hold significance to the N’dritian Clan and also the Kurti people because of cultural and spiritual events that took place during ancestoral times. This included the story of Lapam Pawih, a demi god who lived in Pawih. He had magical powers that saw the world through a clear pool of water that was at the top of Mountain Pawih and worked similarly to a television set. Many believed that these events foretold what would happen such as now which is happening to the construction of the Digicel tower.

Looking back to the sea from the mountain




I, as a member of the N’dritian clan, took the pilgrimage up the mountain to see and take part in this historical event in our place. I say ‘historical’ because land use in Manus, as in many parts of Papua New Guinea is a very contentious issue. Customary land (97% of the nation’s land) is outside the existing system of land law. This is where the majority of Papua New Guineans live. The existing system is inappropriate for promoting national goals through the various levels of government – national, provincial and community. Sometimes because of land disputes concerning ownership or usage, there can be no development whether for personal use or development purpose for many years. However, for this clan in Manus, it was a conscious decision by its leaders to come together and make this land available for this tower for Digicel.

Having a rest midway towards Mt Pawih

It took us about three hours to walk from the our home on the seaside to the top of Mt. Pawih. We started off by climbing small hills, then walking up mountains and as we got nearer the mountain, it got steeper, the bush tracks became narrower, filled with bush vines and thorns and my feet hurt. My father and brother walked and talked as if we were walking along a sandy beach but my body was screaming silently. My feet had cuts, my knees ached, my skin filled with sweat and I wanted to just lie down then and there. They kept saying “its just around the corner” on every corner just to keep me from falling off the trail. Eventually we arrived at the base, there were quite a few people already, about 40 men, women and children who had just arrived before us and were setting up camp.

Setting up camp and boiling water for coffee

My small brother and uncles quickly set up our tent and made a fire before it became dark. That night it rained. We had fried sago and fish and downed it with coffee. I couldn’t sleep. There was no comfortable place to sleep. It was good that I brought a blanket. I wrapped myself around it and sat down, telling stories about anything and everything till around 3am when I dosed off. I woke up at around 5.30 when the church groups that had come to the mountain too began praying and singing. I just sat in the tent with father staring towards the ocean watching the morning sun come up. It was just perfect.

A young man already starting up the work

After the announcements and break up of people into groups, most people had breakfast. Then the work began. There were two men who used their chainsaws to cut the bigger trees, while the young men used axes to cut the other tress. The women cleared the roots and clean the tower base. More people from Derimbat and Kari villages arrived. They brought fuel, another chainsaw and the woman brought food such as sago, cassava, fish, turtle meat and greens. Some young women went down the side of the mountain to fetch water for drinking and cooking while other young boys went to get betelnut. Everyone worked till the afternoon and tower base was cleared and the helipad was also cleared. A few days ago, this was thick forest with no bush tracks, now a place cleared and ready for the tower. As I stood up on the very top of the mountain, I could see as far a Ponam, Harangan and Sori villages to the west and Pitilyu, Hawaii and Momote island to the east. I imagine that once the tower is complete and functioning, it could serve 75% of the people on the west coast of Manus Island.

Everyone working to clear up the tower base and the helipad area.


One of the saws (090 STHL chainsaw with a crosscut chain) that was used to cut the huge trees


Others using the axe to cut a tree down


The tower base being cleaned up


The women remove roots and vegetation fro mthe area


The base being cleared. In the centre of the picture are containers of fuel for the chainsaws.

The boys camp during the night.

The girls and mothers sleeping area during the night

Having coffee and telling stories under our tent at night.

Looking further inland from where we were. At the bottom of the photo is Kari village while the mountain peak in the centre is Mt. Dramsel, the highest peak in Manus Province with a height of maybe 800 meters above sea level.


In the afternoon, when everyone had eaten and rested, certain people spoke. Some spoke about the land and sacredness, others spoke about the good and the bad of what developments such as this Digicel tower would bring to the locals, while others spoke about family and people. Then everyone rested for the night. The next morning, we all walked back down to the coast.

I wrote this story to say how proud Iam that my people have come together and mustered up the courage to say ‘yes we need this and it will benefit all of us’. To even get to this stage of clearing the top of this mountain, is itself and achievement because people don’t give away their land that easily. The process of identifying the landowners and making sure they understood the purpose of such a development on their land was vital to achieving the cooperation of all the clan members. There was no payment of people or of manpower but each family gave something of themselves to contribute towards the work. Some families gave their chainsaws, others contributed fuel for the chainsaws, others were appointed to cook food for the workers, some contributed sugar, coffee and tobacco towards the work.

This was community participation at its best. When good things happen like this, I believe it is also a sign that people in the village do not want to be left out of the opportunity for development and to be involved in nation building as is happening in other parts of PNG too.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lorengau locations

I visited Lorengau town and the place is as nice as ever. Apart from the existing stores, a few new stores (mostly Chinese operated) had set up in town. I must admit they had many things such as torches, mobile phones, files etc..these little things that many manusians need, were in huge supply.
Anyway, the town was a bit sleepy....not too many people in town and i enjoyed it that way. I uploaded some photos of this small town and some of more famous icons.

The Provincial Government headquarters.


I think this signboard in front of the provincial office has to be repainted.


The new City Pharmacy shop next to the Post Office.


Manus vocational centre at Ward six


One of the many PMVs running on Lorengau roads. This bus belongs to Lucas Kanath.


The new Court house at the back of the Post Office.


MV. Tawi at anchor next to Rara Island.


Wara Lorengau...looking inland.


The Catholic Mission centre at ward five.


The Lorengau Market's 'brus' (tobacco leaf) section.


Entering the Lorengau market from the Papindo end.

I enjoyed eating mumu tapiok and fish from the markets. See you all next time in Lorengau.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Madang Night @ DWU

The Madang Students Assoiation of Divine Word University came together to put on a show with a theme titled: Madang aste, na and tumoro'.

They put on a traditional parade, played popular Madang songs from Patti Doi and Demas Saul, had traditional dances and drama. It was held at the DWU auditoriam and the place was filled to capacity.

Sir Arnold Amet was the official guest speaker and he spoke about Madang and the need for young people in tertiary institutions like DWU who would be leaders of their people in the coming years.

The traditional parade highlighted the traditional dress for men and women in the six districts of Madang - Raicoast, Bogia, Sumkar, Madang, Usino-Bundi and Middle Ramu. The explained why each item such as beads, shells, grass-skirts, head dress etc were worn, what is was made of and what it represented.



I enjoyed myself but wished i had a better camera to capture the events as they unfolded. Well maybe better lucj next time. Hopefully by my next posting, i hope to put up a video of the events that happended that night.

See yous later.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NIPs Celebrations in Madang town

Each province in Papua New Guinea sets aside a day to celebrate its heritage, culture and people and is widely known as a 'Provincial Day'. For New Irelanders, it falls on July 23 of each year. For New Irelanders living in Madang, they all congregated at the Madang International School hall and celebrated in style and colour.

Prominent persons such as Sir Arnold Amet, the Governor of Madang, Br. Andrew Simpson, the Vice President of Divine Word University and many other digitaries attended to witness the New Irelanders show their culture and songs.

I went along to see their unique dances and witness groups from Bouganville, East New Britain and Manus who were invited to showcase some of their dances too. I shot this video and hope it does justice to the many colourful dances that were on display. I really enjoyed the day!

Many thanks to those who took time out to organise this day.

See you all New Irelanders living in Madang again next year for more colourful celebrations!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Graduation!

What a day!

Today was graduation day....a day set aside to celebrate a milestone...an academic milestone that is. For the endless nights spent in the computer labs; the lonely 3am nights staring at words that make you pull your hair out; sleeping less hours than the time it takes to order at Macdonalds; listening to lectures that seem endless; working with group members that are hard to get along with; when a cup of coffee is considered a meal; saying 'huh' instead of saying 'could you explain this again (for the third time!); when the brain seems to work better at last minute work than at earlier times in the semester...etc and all those things that i did for the past 18 months to be here today and to say 'Yes i did it'
You know as I was sitting there, all dressed up and listening to the speeches, i kind of felt a tinge of sadness that none of my family or the people i really value could here. Sometimes, the things in life you desire the most cannot happen because...because....thats just the way things are! I really didnt know what to feel. There was a sense of accomplishment and success and also a tad bit of fear too. I was happy that i had completed the course but what would happen after here? One year from now, what would i be doing? Oh well, as Jon Bon Jovi once said 'You've gotto keep the faith'
As a was muching on the spring rolls and sweet cakes for tea prepared by the Curtin International Office, i kind of let my mind wonder what the next six months would hold for me. Would i get a job? Which part of the country would i work in now? Was I employable? At the back of my head i wondered what i would be doing a year from now....who knows what he future holds. But one thing is for certain...I have had a really really good time in Perth, enjoyed the place and loved the good times with friends.

Ah yes..Friends! Friends are people that are just the same everywhere you go, they share the same passion as you, they hate the things you hate and live life pretty much the same we do. I met some wonderful people and loved their company. They were ambassadors for their country and were a lot more better than toursim ads on TV. Their friendships transcended the boundaries of culture, language, way of thinking, religion etc and knowing them helped me understand more about the world i live in.
When i said goodbye to one of the scholars from Africa, he thought aloud if we would ever meet again and to whcih i replied "we will surely meet some day through facebook or skype, but if not then see you at the good place up above"

Well, today has gone and tomorrow brings another challenge. But Friday 16 July 2010....is a day that gave me a new lease on life!

Getting ready to go to the campus

In the gown

With other graudates

With the other PNG graduates and their families

Making small talk with family and friends after morning tea


Checking my wallet to see if there is any money to pay for official photographs

Finally, my very own 'graduation dinner' - a lamb kebab at the Mesapotemia Kebab in Perth City, later that night...hahahaha