Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Garden Update

I know not everyone will be as thrilled about this as me, but I just had to share with the world how lovely our garden is. I am particularly enamored with the tomatoes, of which (at the latest count) there are 9.

Our capsicums are also growing rapidly, as are the chillies, carrots, radishes and our first pumpkin.

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see everything growing so quickly! Maybe some of you will understand my obsession…

Note: all photos courtesy of Cam, who had to take the bloody things at 7 o'clock in the morning.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What Jane is doing...

Well, I figure that as Cam is going to write soon and tell you all about his work, so I thought it would be a good time to update on my stuff (that and Cam has taken his computer and the camera away with him, so I don't have any good pictures to upload at the moment).

So. The book drive has almost taken over my life. Just a small side project - yeah right. People have been quite supportive and generous, but getting anything to happen is slow progress. It must be the PNG field of 'things happen when they happen' extending to Australia as well. I'm still trying to figure out storage and transport for all the books that are being donated. Maxine and I are also wanting to run some fundraisers (both in PNG, and in Australia) to raise money for the shipping and customs etc. Hmm, due to my lack of ability in being two places at once, I might have to convince someone else to run the fundraiser...anyone?

Drama wise things are slow going as well. I think people are enthusiastic, but it is hard to get them to commit. Also I have to remember that this drama caper is very foreign to many of them. But I'm hoping to run teacher workshops soon, as well as going to some schools to run classes. I think we will hold auditions soon for a core group of people to do radio dramas in the next 6 months. So we'll be researching, writing, recording and hopefully doing some on-stage stuff all before my year is up! Whew - sounds busy.

Other things in the cooking pot include: writing childrens books, knitting bags, fundraisers, making t-shirts, baking, gardening...whatever and whenever the inspiration arises!

Hope all is well with everyone back home! Please don't forget to write e-mails occasionally - we miss them. And I promise that I'll take the time to write personalised e-mails back!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Kaure-Muala’s 2nd Birthday

Let me introduce you all to Maxine’s son, Kuare-Muala (Kaure for short). Maxine is Jane’s counterpart for those of you not in the know, and Kaure is an example of the reason that cluckiness can be a problem here.

Jane & Max...

On the weekend we celebrated his 2nd birthday. So in the usual way of children’s birthday parties there were children, loud noises, party games and short attention spans. But none of that mattered coz the kids were all having a good time, and we only get to have a birthday once a year.

Party games included the favourites of pass the parcel, egg and spoon race, treasure hunt, and the dance off. The dance off was particularly good in getting the kids to burn off all the excess sugar they had eaten throughout the day – I quite liked it. There were of course the compulsory tears, but they were short-lived and forgotten as soon as they were finished.

So many cute children in the one room! Now I’m not one that usually gets clucky, but when you look at these kids, how could you not? Kaure is here with his friend Lani and his new prized possession – the wheelbarrow. And one of Lani as well.

You’ll all be glad to know that in my tradition of scarves and birthdays I stayed up until 2am the night before finishing off Kaure’s. Yes it’s Papua New Guinea, and scarves are probably not that essential – but who am I to break a tradition?

To finish off this post I’ll leave you with some pictures of Kaure dressed up in Trobriand Island traditional dress. How cute!

By the way Cam is going to be away until about the 27th of August for the new placement that he has. We're sorry to be so circumspect about all of that but now it is pretty offical and he'll let you all know about it... in detail... when he gets back, in the mean time have a look at the two links to the right of screen (not google or gutenburg) and if you are lucky you might even find a cheesy bio of him on the CORAL site.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hagita Cultural Show

One thing that you might not realize about PNG is just how many cultural groups there are. I mean, we are talking about a country with over 800 distinct languages (that’s right, there are even more dialects). So when there is a chance to see a cultural show, it’s an amazing opportunity not to be missed (especially when this one is free!).

So Friday and Saturday saw us driving out past the airport to the Hagita Sacred Heart School. The school consists of approximately 750 students who come from all over the province; most are boarders as it could take them many days just to get home (the other thing you may not realize about the Milne Bay Province is just how many remote islands make it up). Friday was a quiet day where each cultural group prepared for the next day and demonstrated some traditional methods of food preparation and arts and crafts. Each cultural group had to build their own house for the show, as well as any feasting platforms – pretty impressive if you ask me.

Our appetites were whetted, and Saturday morning we were ready and raring to go out to the school again. We were not disappointed. The first thing that we notice was the amzing array of traditional coustumes and the huge amount of effort that they must have taken to prepare.

The second thing you notice are the pigs!. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many pigs in my life! One group had ten to exchange…I found myself feeling a mixture of awe and disgust. Awe in that pigs here are pretty expensive and prized – this was a very generous food offer. Disgust in that the poor pigs were alive and tied to a pole – it can’t have been a comfortable or happy place for them.

We started by going around to all the cultural groups to look at all the food they were preparing to exchange.
Anyway, after the official start to the day of boring and political speeches (elections are coming up next year…) the good stuff started. Each group had to exchange food with another cultural group in their traditional way. This doesn’t mean strolling over with the food, shaking hands and genial conversation. Rather, depending on the group, it involves traditional dress, dancing, drums and various methods of passing the food. In one case the situation almost became violent when the Tawala group started lobbing taros (huge yam-like things, weighing quite a few kilos) into the house of the Kiriwina group. Also spears were thrown into the roof of the house. Apparently this is all traditional, but perhaps a bit more…enthusiastic…than usual.

There were also King and Queen parades and dances from each group. But I’d have to say that the highlight for me was sitting with the GoodEnough Island cultural group. I was sitting down by myself while Cam went and took photos. I must have looked lonely or something because the woman near me handed me a bunch of bananas, and then a little girl sat next to me and put an umbrella over my head (to protect my dim dim skin from the sun). After this some of the students offered to paint my face. We were basically ‘adopted’ into the GoodEnough group, and I now have 2 penpals in Grade 9.

All round it was an amazing (and exhasting) day. It’s great to see how enthusiastic the students were, and how they all embrace their culture so thoroughly.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Weekend in Moresby

Well it was more than a weekend, and less than a week. But it was in Moresby and that's what matters.

Cam and I recently attended a volunteers conference at the lovely Loloata Dive Resort on an island out of Port Moresby. How did Cam manage to score a conference at a dive resort you ask? Well, pure luck. And there was no time for diving, so it wasn't THAT lucky. Still it is a beautiful place and quite relaxing - no tense feelings one usually associates with Port Moresby. That is why I suspect they had it there.

We were there for 3 days in which we learnt, listened, discussed, networked and bonded with our fellow volunteers and VSP's (Volunteer Service Providers, it's all about getting up with the development and aid lingo). We were also inspired with talks from Dame Carol Kidu and one of the founders from I Gat Hope, a group which supports and fights for the rights of those who are HIV positive (and do much more than that, but I can't remember all the details sorry!).

Some of the other highlights included the view from our balcony...

(it's a hard life as a volunteer, we have to get some perks), catching up with our friends, the delicious food and of course the duty free alcohol that a certain inbound person had so generously donated. For both of us it was a really affirming and pleasent experience to catch up with the other volunteers. All have had similar trials and tribulations and we guess that it just goes to show that you need more than just good looks to make development aid stick. Nevertheless have you ever, ever seen such a freshfaced, windswept good-looking group of people in your life? We didn't think so. Cam says this is one of his favorite photos from the trip.

To round up the week there was a Friday night Sing Sing, performed by the members of a local Motu village from just across the water from the Island. The performance was great with ages ranging from very little to normal adult; needless to say this made for some cute watching (it was in fact very difficult not to laugh when the littlest pikinnini danced straight into one of the kundu drums...sooo cute). There is nothing quite like the singing and dancing of traditional PNG culture (of which there are many), I hope the people don't lose their traditional knowledge and pride - it is just so amazing.

So after the conference part of our trip finished we spent two days exploring Port Moresby proper. We were lucky enough to be in town on the last Saturday of the month which means that we were there for the Ela Beach Craft Market. Wow. So much craft. Everything from bilums, to baskets, to penis gourds (quite funny to see a tourist ask quite loudly what they are and then see them squirm as the explanation comes), to local art. We acquired some bilums (I love mine!), and Cam was excited by the real life Indian food that was being sold there (there aren't really any takeaway food outlets in little Alotau). Cam also bought me a little carved pig which I have now named "Gutpela Pig" (literal translation would be Goodfellow Pig, or just Good Pig). I definitely think we will have to arrange to go back to the craft market before we go back home.

We also spent some time at the local supermarkets - so much food. More than 3 types of cheese, so much chocolate, so much meat...quite an experience. We tried to stop drooling for long enough to stock up on supplies to take back with us to Alotau.

The nights were also full. We were invited to an engagement party for one of the other volunteers on one night (the house where it was held was amazing; there was a magnificent view, carved pigs everywhere and awesome hand painted bathrooms), and we had a bbq on the other night. The Moresby volunteers looked after us very well, thanks guys! Here's some special photos of all the ladieees (and one for the ladies).

So anyway, we're both back home now. Cam stayed on for a few extra days to try and sort out details for his position, but more on that soon. Port Moresby was fun, but I think we are both happy to be living in quiet little old Alotau.