Monday, September 26, 2011


I probably should update since my last rant over twelve months ago. We eventually found a gorgeous, wonderful, amazing 'haus meri' called Besta. And she is the best-a! She is a wonderful lady, very giving, generous and a kind and gentle soul. Her only downfall is that she works too hard. I am forever telling her it's time to stop and have lunch, or go home. She had today off. She was telling me last week that her son, Chris who is 12 (i think) had two growths on his eye and was having problems seeing. He saw a nurse here and was fobbed off, told it was 'sugar dust' and sent home. So i took him down to see the Dr, the doc checked him out, he has two opaque spots on his cornea and Doc recommended he go to Madang ASAP. So Besta took a PMV (mini bus, takes 3 hours and costs $20kina each, Besta gets paid about $160 Kina a fortnight to put it into perspective) down last night and they sat for 8 hours at the hospital waiting their turn. The Fred Hollows foundation has a lot to do with an eye clinic in Madang, i presume that's where they went. Thank goodness for the works of people like him. They finally saw a Doctor this afternoon and he has given Chris some 'strongpela' (strong) eyedrops and eye cream and told him to come back next monday. Besta concern was obvious on the phone, from ehat i can gather, they have told her if the cream doesn't work it is pretty serious. I have no idea what the diagnosis is, but i shall find out in the morning, if they know...... I haven't heard back from Ausaid as yet re: my last blog post, but will keep you posted.By 'you' i mean anyone who might have nothing better to do than read my ramblings. I have a 'contact' who is going to see if they can get some old sheets from the linen service company who supply linen to the hospitals in Melbourne. Otherwise, i might just sew some up. My sewing ability is limited to straight lines, so sheets i can do! The lovely Besta.....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Medical care in PNG..... or lack of it.

Long time no blog..... well i'm back... I arrived back in PNG on Friday, I headed down to the local market to pick up some fruit. There is a small ‘convenience’ store where you can buy a few basic things like flour, soap and a few miscellaneous household items. Not often anything you need, but none the less it is a shop. At the cash register there is a cardboard box. It has a hole in the top and on the side it has written "donations to pay for medical clinic electricity bill" I’ve never been to the public clinic as we have a private clinic within the company we work for. So I went over and spoke with the staff to find out what the story was. The Gusap health centre is the local hospital. It provides medical care for around 20,000 locals in the area. They see up to 1200 outpatients a month, 700 inpatients, as well as delivering around 60 babies month. They are currently without power and have been since February as they owe $34,000 Kina to the power company. The clinic is so basic. They don't even have sheets on the beds that they do have. It is heartbreaking that their medical care is so sub standard, and now they have to do it all with no power. A new sexually transmitted infections clinic was built out the back of the hospital in 2009, whilst building it they used the hospital power and contributed significantly to the power bill. The building was funded by Ausaid so I have contacted them in hope of getting some financial assistance to get the power back on. I had a tour of the hospital and took a few photos. I have to share... Having just delivered a baby in a fantastic hospital in Melbourne, the horrific conditions of the delivery suite really stuck a chord with me. This is the delivery bed. It used to be in a bigger room, but the room has no windows for light, so now they have moved the bed into a small room used for post-natal care.
A makeshift curtain separates a mother who may need to be on the bed from a mother who may have just delivered.
In PNG, their health system is a little different. They have Doctors and they have nurses but then they have something in between. From what i could gather they go to university for 4 years and then do a two year clinical placement and that allows them to administer some medications, and perform small procedures like suturing. This clinic has no doctor on site, just this in between qualification, although they do liase with the drs from our clinic and their sister clinic a few hundred kms up the road. So as long as things go to plan, all is good. If things don't go to plan it is a 2 and a half hour trip by ambulance to the nearest hospital.
Below are medical supplies. Note the instruments sitting in the kidney dish full of water?!
And this, much to my shock, is a purpose made cholera bed. The diarrhea is so violent that apparently catching it under the bed in a bucket is the best way to deal with it.... Thank goodness that outbreak is over and thankgoodness i live in a country where i can walk into a doctors surgery and get immunised against it.
It's hard to see from the pics. But there is a fine layer of dust over everything. The place is stinking hot, it doesn't smell so good. There are plenty of rooms for things like x-ray, dentistry, pathology, but at the moment they are just signs on the door. The rooms behind the doors are empty. The state of the medical care in this country is horrific. It is heartbreaking to see how these people have to live. We are so fortunate to have access to the medical system that we do in Australia. So my latest mission is to try and get the power back on and maybe some sheets for the beds in the hospital.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On a roll.... The Leron Horse Sports Day

Let me start by saying that they haven't heard of the word Gymkhana in PNG, so it was decided it would be a 'Horse Sports Day"

It was 6 months in the making, and a cracker day. We had flag racing, apple bobbing, a stockmans race, pole bending, face painting, lots of cool prizes and BBQ lunch.

We asked a few big companies in PNG to sponsor and donate prizes and we ended up with loads of t-shirts, caps, tool kits, grocery vouchers, stubby coolers, belts, sunnies, and pocket knives. So the stakes were high!

The day started with a missing truck driver. He went to get fuel at 6 am and was never seen again, he was supposed to pick up 100 workers from their housing compound and drive the hour it takes to get to Leron. But we were determined to start on time, and not run on PNG time. Oh, the truck driver also had half the saddles!!! So we started the first race and had a saddle swap after each heat!

Ready to race..... one slight hiccup.

After the rocky start, all went well...... until the snake. One of the men in the neighboring village found a python five days earlier. He bought it along for everyone to see. But *apparently* he kept the snake for 5 days and didn't give it any food, so shortly after lunch, the biggest dust storm of all time howled through the field, almost taking horses and their riders to Cansas. Mother nature did it, you just ask anyone who knew about the snake!

We had traditional sing sing performances, a theater production on how an abattoirs works right down to stripping the clothes of a small child being held up by his legs, to demonstrate skinning?! The kids had a blast in the sack race and 3 legged race, we would have had a good time on the egg and spoon race, but someone stole the golf balls. They're expensive you know!

Apple bobbing....

The theatre production.....

There were shelters built for all the different Beef departments. Cropping, Abattoirs, Leron cowboys, Gusap Cowboys, Admin, and this was for the VIP guests. lol RSVP:VIP? Same same.

On the way home, much to Tarzan's dismay, a large grazing paddock had been intentionally burt. Apparently its not uncommon, if someone knows that there aren't many people around they'll torch a bit of land.

But fortunately it didn't put much of a dampener on everyone's spirits, here's a happy tribe on the bus on the way home....

Sacking someone.

Long time no blog. Hi all.

Well so much has happened i don't know where to start, so ill tell you the story of the untrustworthy house Meri.

Once upon a time a new family arrived in PNG, the house came with a house Meri who, as per the previous company's policy came with the house. In her eyes, it was 'her' house iykwim. She knew the house well, and cleaned it within an inch of its life. She washed folded and ironed everything, down to the sheets. She had been a house Meri for 20 years. So when we arrived i was very cautious not to step on toes and pretty much left her to her own devices. When this company took over they gave everyone a pay rise and food was no longer an entitlement. But how could i not feed the ladies that work here (Garden Meri too), when i have so much and they have so little. So i fed them a big lunch, coffee and tea and more often then not cake, biscuit or slice. I bought them both a cooking element for their homes so they didn't have to go home and light a fire every night. I buy them clothes, toiletries, food for their families and little nick nacks from time to time if i see something appropriate.

So over time, Our house Meri's disdain for me became more apparent. She disliked the fact that i made cakes for other people, gave gifts to others and was generally welcoming in my home. She didn't like other children coming to play with the girls, particularly national kids, and when they did come she was nasty when i wasn't looking (pr so she thought!). She said that i shouldn't give anyone to anything except her. She told our garden Meri she was not to pick up the children, to watch them but keep working. When i asked her to watch the girls for an hour i came back to find her sleeping in a chair. When i went to Aus i left food and money for her and the garden Meri, she ate all the food, spent the money and gave nothing to the garden Meri?!

She began to talk about me behind my back and soon word got back to me. As you can imagine i was pretty pissed off. I noticed that there was no money coming back from the washing, she would always check the pockets and bring the money upstairs and put it on the table. We are pretty useless at taking coins out of our pockets, so i was a little suspicious. So i set her up, put money in the washing and then after it was all done Tarzan confronted her and asked where the money was. She pretended to look around and couldn't find it. So i went into their bathroom and picked up another pair of her shorts and the pocket jingled. I asked what it was and she said "Oh that's right i was going to give it back later" Whatever. She was then told she was suspended and to leave the premise. WELL, you should have seen her go. She started yelling and screaming, accusing us of stealing her money from her Bilum and demanding we give her $60. She then told Tarzan that "This is my country, don't mess with me, this is my country! You want to fight me? Come on, Come on Fight me! Fight me!" by this stage i was a little concerned so called security to remove her. She finally left, but not before saying she was taking us to court for testing her trustworthiness?! Nothing would surprise me in this country.

So for the last two weeks there has been an appeal process. She was fired, appealed, making up a letter full of lies, it was reviewed, and then 3 weeks later she was fired for the final time. Si i have spent 3 weeks packing my dacks every time i go to the market, thinking she's hiding behind a tree with a bush knife. I have been assured she is all talk and no action, but i'm not willing to find out.

I can understand her being angry, upset and all of that, she is unlikely to find another job as there isn't a lot around and she is getting older. But she dug her own grave. I do feel a tiny bit sorry for her, but not much and not often. Maybe i'm harsh but she was making my life here pretty miserable. Spending 8 hours a day with someone who is greedy, nasty and fake doesn't make for a happy household. Since she has gone the girls and i have been so much happier. Obert, the garden Meri carries them around the garden, plays with them and looks after them. They love her now, where as before they was scared of her and she was scared of the house Meri and things were pretty uncomfortable. I've been moping my own floors and doing my own washing for 3 weeks now, and i have to say it sure beats having someone here who i didn't really like.

So now we have to find a new lady. I'm a little apprehensive, and will not rush into it. Hopefully we will find the perfect person.
Here's the latest pic of the jungle pikininis.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I just had 'greased banana for lunch', it has fast become my favorite. Cooking bananas cooked in fresh coconut milk with onions, curry and a little stock. It sounds like a terrible combination but i love it. Might have over done it though and feel like i need to hibernate it off.

Sitting here full as a goog, wondering what i can talk to ya'll about. Compensation is on my mind so i'll tell you a little about that.

PNG is all about compensation. Suppose you have an affair with your neighbors husband. The neighbor will come knocking on your door seeking compensation. For shaggin around the price is a few hundred kina.

If you run over someone's dog, whether it is half starving and dying of rabies or not, the price is about fifty to a hundred kina. Suppose you hit a pig in your car and kill it, they will want compensation, anywhere upwards of $1000kina depending on the size of the pig/cow. Now suppose you kill another man, whether by accident of not the compensation is huge. $100,000 kina or there about. If you can't pay the compensation then the 'eye for an eye' law applies and will most likely find yourself or a family member dead.

Killing someone as revenge around here doesn't seem like a big deal. People just accept that's the way life is. It's hard to get your head around sometimes.......

It is very common practice to give you children away if someone in your family can give them a better life than you. But if you decide you want them back, you have to pay compensation to the family member for the money they have spent on food, clothing schooling etc.

A couple i met gave their baby to his sister shortly after birth, as he wasn't working and they couldn't afford to keep him. They now want to get him back but the brother wants $5000. Although this might seem a reasonable enough idea, there is no way they can raise that money in a hurry, so they are just slowly saving to get their now 4 year old baby back.

My friend across the road, had a fight with her husband on Sunday. He pushed her, she fell and cut her arm. Because he cut her arm and drew blood, she wants to kill him. Not in the same way that i say i want to kill my husband because he was late home, forgot the ice cream but didn't forget the beer kind of way either. She told me she is going to stab him. As soon as her arm mends she wants to fist fight him in a 'fair and square' (her words) fight! I tried telling her that killing the father of her 3 children was not a fantastic idea. Besides the fact she might go to jail, he is the bread winner, with a great job, providing for the family and sending the kids to a good school. She would not see the sense in my argument. All she could say was "You can't understand, it's what we do here, he drew blood and now I'm going to kill him" I couldn't change her mind, so i gave her $100 to catch a bus to her 'place' (home town) to cool off for a couple of weeks. She wanted to go but didn't have any money as he took her keycard off her after the fight.

This is probably how she got there...... local bus...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Tarzan has been hunting and gathering and most upset i haven't shared with the world.
We have been to Madang twice in the past few weeks, both times showing friends and family a bit of country side. Madang is a lovely seaside town. We stayed at a little resort called JAis Arben and it was great, ok the food was average, but the accommodation was great! I ordered catch of the day and got a massive calamari hood, un-scored, unsliced in a salty horrible unrecognizable sauce. *spew* I stuck to safe dished after that. ;) Food is not really something people do well in PNG, there is no real cuisine as such, Just food cooked in coconut milk with no fresh herbs and spices except some curry powder, stock and salt sometimes. It encourages me to do more cooking anyway so it's not all bad. When we don't have a takeaway food option....ever someone else cooking is a real treat, even if it is inedible rubber squid coated in a strange sauce.
Now where was i? oh yes. Tarzan, hunting. He wanted to go fishing but the fishing charter boat was busy taking people snorkelling. So Tarzan looked elsewhere. He found a local fisherman who had a banana boat. A tinny type boat with an outboard on the back.

Vincent goes out fishing most days to catch fish to sell to support his family. He uses hand lines and catches all his bait. To catch the first bait he uses hand lines with a plastic bag tied to the hook, or trawls with a small hook with a feather on it. Bait is usually a nice pan sized tuna or similar. Bait i say???? i'll just eat that thanks! Apparently not. So they then put this on a big hook, on the end of a hand line, and trawl. The first trip they got the biggest yellow fin Tuna i have ever seen......
I can't believe they caught it, let alone on a hand line?!

I thought it was a fluke, s when da came over they went out again with Vincent. This time they caught......

A freaking Marlin! My father spent years fishing at Bermagui trying to catch one and never did, now he comes to PNG and hooks one in a banana boat.

And on a HAND line?!

We didn't get to eat the fish, as it was Vincent's livelihood. But second time out, Tarzan asked Vincent if they could catch a few extra 'bait fish" for our esky. They filled it up!

So i cooked up my favorite..... Sesame seared tuna with a wasabi beurre blanc sauce served with a soba noodle salad. YUM!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bras, bras, bras!

So the call was put out for any unwanted secondhand bras and undies. The boobs around here are in serious need and they don't mind if they are second or even third hand. ;) A bra is a bra and better than none. Same goes for undies! I was blown away by the amount that were sent to mum and dad's. Mum and dad packed light and filled their suitcases with the underwear, Dad was a little concerned what he'd say if anyone looked through his bag, but fortunately it didn't some to that!
I sorted then into sizes with the help of my brother. He reckons he's an expert in cup size *rolleyes*. We packed them into bags and walked to the village next door. We set up on a big bag on the ground and the word went around that people in need could pop over. They started filing in, mostly too shy to come right over, but with a lot of encouragement we were soon surrounded by boobs of all shapes and sizes to fit all donations. ;-). After a quick assessment i guesstimated a size, there was lots of laughing a bit of trying on, swapping etc. and then they disappeared with their new goods!
The rule was one each, and no hoarding for your friends! There was certainly excitement in the air, people didn't stop saying thank-you, and kissing my leg, which was kind of weird........ but some strage way of showing gratitude here. Everyone was amazed that i had friends in Australia who would donate all this underwear to them and wanted me to pass on their thanks.... I'm not going to kiss your legs, but i will say thanks. :-p

So a massive thanks for all of you who collected, posted and delivered bra's to my mum and Dad's. Your donations made for some VERY happy Papua New Guineans. There is apparently more underwear waiting for me when i head home in three weeks, so i will bring that back and share the love in another village.

Bek- your kids undies were a massive winner. The boys didn't even mind having a pink pair!