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Sunday, April 16, 2006

The moon in the sky is a big pizza pie, that's amore ...

We now have a pizza oven.

Training for Beijing


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Eels R Smart

Went fishing in Fiji (YES, ME - fishing!!)
and as ever, felt a bit sad for the fish – but what was really amazing
was that one of the boys caught
a Moray Eel.
It took the bait then pulled its head back into its home and tied
itself in a knot so that it could not be pulled out.
Chris pulled it up
attached to a huge lump of coral and as soon as it was out of the water it
untied itself and let go.
That’s a true story!!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Flying Fish Flipping

1. Last week we went to visit one of our participants in his village. The purpose of the trip was to help us to understand what he is trying to achieve – which is quite amazing. First we make the travel arrangements. This takes a long time and involves writing down the names of villages that we whities find too hard to pronounce. We must catch a couple of buses, and then walk some distance to his home. Then he says no no, we won’t do that – too hard for us. He will come and get us. OK, I agree – so long as he meets us at 1.30, white time! Set!!
12.30, the advance party arrives from the village to make sure that we are all ready to leave at 1.30. We are. 1.30, off we go in yet another of the twin cab utes that seem to be indispensable here. Up into the hills then we hit the dirt road. Pot holes so bad that the drivers prefer to drive right off the side of the road and sometimes the people walk up the middle because it is easier for them to negotiate the terrain than it is for the cars to dodge the holes.
We drive for a while with Raph pointing out the sights that we need to acknowledge as we go by. Eventually, the vehicle pulls off the main road and rock climbs another few hundred metres then we are told to get out. We walk along a ridge, maybe 12 feet wide, and drop steeply down into ‘the village’. It sits on a widened stretch of the ridge, perhaps 40 feet across and at each side, the earth just drops away to streams running through the bottoms of valleys. Spectacular.

Today we are clearly the guests of honour. There is a cluster of young people hanging about in a studiedly casual fashion, and there is a sense of busy-ness. Raph takes us into his house – about ½ the size of my bedroom. A number of extension leads are knotted together and draped over a clothesline to supply power into the little building. His office is his bedroom and in the day he folds up his single bed to make more room. Inside is a personal computer. From here, Raph runs a micro-size business that digitally records the music of local bands and choirs that will be copied onto CDs. He also prints colour photos for people. He has a full-time job, but wants the business to provide employment for his two brothers who do not have jobs. Raph and I go outside to talk about cash flow budgets – Matt stays inside with some of the boys and a guitar.

Once the ‘work’ is done, Raph’s Mother and the rest of the family are introduced. Flower, a large pig who is reportedly on maternity leave, ‘Pup’, a dog that has been given a name but no-one can remember it, a gang of adolescent girls. Mother has prepared for us a meal of corn, potatoes, stringy green stuff and a coconut milk soup to pour over the lot. Surprisingly delicious. Then Raph says ‘OK, you can go now’, so we do.

2. 2. During the week, Steve the Aussie cop took us on a run to deliver books and medicine organised by Australian Rotary for outlying villages. We drove for an hour or so and stopped first at a school, delivering about eight boxes of books for the library. Next stop, a first aid post that we couldn’t have even found without the help of a local. In go two boxes of drugs and equipment, supplied to order. ‘How long ago did you order these supplies?’ ‘two years’………………

3. 3. For the weekend, we are invited to the village of one of the boy’s who works in our office. 3 PMV’s (Some people would call a PMV (public motor vehicle) a van – it is old, sometimes with the wheels showing through the bodywork, sometimes it is a ute with canvas over the top. They go everywhere - sometimes!!) and a boat trip and we arrive on the island with a fresh fish caught by Matt on the way. We start walking. Straight up. We name it Pain Mountain and before long it is, and everyone calls it that. Jack, our guide, hasn’t been home for 5 months and has to stop to ask the way. The road is no more than a sheep track through the jungle. It is about 34 degrees and the humidity? After about 5 minutes I ask Jack if we are nearly there. No he says. One hour!!

H He is right!! After an hour, we arrive in a clearing big enough for the school and the rugby field and we collapse in a sweaty heap. Then out come the children…… so we are compelled to liven up and play volleyball. Matt hits me with the ball and I pretend rage. Matt picks me up and carries me off around the rugby field. The children are in hysterics, and all our needs for the next 24 hours are met before we have them.

Jack then says that this is not his village, but we are nearly there. Off we go again. We meet the family and then we are told to bath. We get near the water source and Jack clearly gets uncomfortable. I help him out. 'What’s up Jack, do you want me to wait?' 'Yes Jane, you have to wait here and you can go after us'. OK. I wait. The boys all get clean and Jack tells me I can start now – they will go back home. I take off my clothes and wash, and I am not alone – by the time I am dressed again, there are a troop of totally intrigued young faces watching white skin. Dinner - Matt's fish in a soup of coconut served on rice - GREAT!!

No power, no cars, and worse, no coffee. Everything in the village has been brought up Pain Mountain by foot. Water tanks, schools, windows, books and one television. We ‘sleep’ in the teachers house – something a little less welcoming than the old shearers hut at Wongan. We have ‘security guards’ in this most friendly village but they have consumed too much jungle juice and they all sleep very well.

On Saturday we had been conscripted to play rugby and ‘volley’ in a weekly tournament but ‘the matches have been stolen’ - we don’t know what this means but instead of perspiring with the locals we spend the day walking back down Pain Mountain’ then swimming and fishing with our two special little friends, helpers and guides, Marley and Joe for whom NOTHING is too much trouble.

The boat trip back was interrupted because the fish were doing their thing so we had to go fishing on the way. Tuna, jumping about all around us, birds eyeing them off from the sky, flying fish flipping about. Matt hooked a big tuna, I’m told it was as big as me but after five furious seconds, the line broke and he got away and caused a great deal of excitement before he went.

Oh yeah, work? The coaching phase is going well although difficult. We have got nine varyingly enthusiastic participants remaining. They range from complete dreamer to hungrily keen. The keen ones are as ever just amazing to work with – trying to achieve things with the most extraordinary difficulties to be addressed every day. One of mine has had to cope with a domestic situation involving guns, violence and not being allowed to sleep in the house – then shows up to coaching sessions telling me that she has trouble with confidence……… Another three have full time jobs and want to have businesses to benefit their wontok. One of these told me how his brothers are unemployed but they had jobs that helped pay for him to study so he wants to help them now. Another has a full time job and has two business ideas, one for himself, the other for wontok. Two of these used annual leave to complete the YES workshop.

One coaching visit required about 90 mins of travel up into the hills on PMV’s and by then by foot and we very nearly didn’t make it, but we got there, and once the work was done, some of the local unemployed guys had dressed up in traditional dancing costumes and put on a dance for us. We left with armfuls of fresh bread, bananas, cucumbers and peanuts. Worth the effort? Priceless!!!!

Back to Aus on Friday - VERY much looking forward to it!


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