The family traipsed off to Masahet Island with the Community relations team from the local Mining company for a dissemination. Man bilong me (husband) was discussing the importance of Education, with the focus on the importance of educating girls and teaching English in the early years at school. Other people talked about the measles epidemic that is hitting PNG at the moment, hygiene, Gender Based Violence, which is a massive issue here, and the health issues of smoking cigarettes or bruss (local tobacco) for yourself and secondary smoking in front of children.
We travelled to Masahet by banana boat, which is a 30 minute ride from Lihir Island. We then had to transfer to a smaller boat to enter the little bay, as above. If there was more swell we would have had to dock on the other side of the island and walk an hour around, with boxes and boxes of food, to the village. The walk into the main ‘area’ of the village was very amusing as I had about 20 pikininis following every action I did and copying everything I said. Obviously, I had to march, tap my head and say “G’day Mate!” as much as I could, because it caused fits of laughter from us all!
Obviously, there were way too many beautiful children to photograph! But little Rose, below was my favourite! She still had silver glitter on her face from church that morning and was wearing the sweetest lik lil keri dress, that was two sizes too big! She kept getting closer and closer to me until she was perched up quite close! She is a little Angel!
Her bigger sister spoke very good English and was in Grade 4. The children do not start school until they are ready, or if there is a place. They go to High School on Lihir Island, at the State High School, if there is a spot, where they board for the week or term, returning home when their parents can afford to send them. If there isn’t a spot at the High School, families can pay (quite a lot) of kina for children to attend the Resource Centre, where I teach as a volunteer. I teach two CVS subjects (like Year 11 & 12) which can be a feeder into University, marks permitting. The two adults I teach speak English as their third language so there is a lot of explaining that happens in class!
After a quick lunch we had a look around the island, being guided by one of the local Youth Red Cross boys, who seas simply lovely. There were pigs and dogs, chickens and cats and all the houses were neat and tidy, with sand swept and beaches clean. Absolute paradise!!!
So many amazing moments, so many amazing things to hear, to see, to smell and to taste! The most amazing thing though, is the people, the laughter and the love that is shared here.