THAT DELICATE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PEOPLE AND THEIR HOME

With the effects of  global warming and climate change now becoming more and more evident,  people worldwide have become acutely aware of  the intimate  relationship between the  person  and his or her natural environment.
            But ordinary Papua New Guineans are   struggling   to maintain that balance in their  own small way as  large corporations supported  by the government exploit resources at the expense of the people and their  environment.    For years,  both local and international groups have campaigned against  environmental damage  with relative success.  In Papua New Guinea,  several  community based groups continue to argue that  the “environment” and  conservation  shouldn’t be seen from the western context.
We belong to the land.  The land doesn’t belong to us.
Michael Kasuk    a community leader  from  the Upper Ramu river  in the Madang province –  says   environmental damage   caused in the name of large scale development  and higher tax revenues has serious consequences for  the Ramu people. To them  it means    cultural genocide  and, literally,   the death of future generations.
            “The government and   companies must recognize this  fact,”  he says.  “This is not a fight against new development.  It is about   our environment: Our land, our bush and our river. Because our very lives are connected to  the  land, the bush and the  river.”
            Like many other traditional communities in Papua New Guinea,  people of the   Ramu  have  a  well   developed calendar of food gathering and   ceremonies  based on   seasons  and  river patterns.   But the Ramu –  with its  tributaries  in the highlands of Papua New Guinea –   is being slowly killed by large scale development up river.  Sediments  from  mining in Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands   eventually end up  in the Ramu.  Oil palm development   near the Madang-Morobe provincial border is also becoming a major concern.  The Ramu also faces  a more immediate threat from two new mines:   one operated by Canadian Company  – Marengo and the other by the Chinese owned MCC.   Soil erosion partially caused by construction work   at the Chinese owned  Ramu Nickel Mine is also  finding its  way into  a river used by more than 200 thousand people.  
However, very little has been said  about the  long term effects of large scale industries   in the upper reaches of the Ramu. Few people who live along the river  realize that  there are several new developments   scattered along the Ramu’s tributaries which stand to affect their lives.
“ The initial signs of sedimentation are evident,”  says Steven Malai, an elementary  school teacher in Sepu village in Ramu. “And we expect more damage to happen.
            “There  hasn’t been any proper awareness  on the negative effects of mining upstream.  When company officials came,  their focus was on how much money the government was going to make and they said: “

you won’t be harmed.”

           
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LAE AREA COMMANDER: ARMY HAS UNUSED POTENTIAL

Group Captain Peter Aimos – Lae Area Commander

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The Lae Area Commander of the   Papua New Guinea Defense Force, Group Captain  Peter Aimos,    says   the Lae based  engineering battalion can solve  some of PNG’s transport  problems if  the battalion is adequately funded.

Aimos said  the Defense Force   has the expertise  to build high  quality roads   at lower cost.
Aimos   is an aviator and an engineer  who  has built roads in the Eastern Highlands  and was also  responsible for transporting coffee from Karamui in the Simbu province when the Somare government announced   the so called “green Revolution”  that  was meant to help  farmers without road access get their cash crops to  markets.
The Green revolution became nothing more than another political gimmick.  The program failed to  continue because of the lack of funds.  But the  Group Captain Peter Aimos  says the engineering battalion can still solve some of PNG’s  transport problems if   adequate funding is given to the PNGDF.
“The potential is here.  We have the expertise, although minimal. We have it,” Aimos said.  “If that can be expanded, we can easily change the face of this nation.”
Although  the PNGDEF’s capacity has  declined over the years,   the engineering battalion  still demonstrates the highest level of workmanship.  The roads inside Lae’s Igam Barracks  are a demonstration of the skill of Papua New Guinea’s army engineers.  Built  over 20 years ago,  they show very little evidence of deterioration.
Aimos argues that engineering battalion can build better roads  at a much cheaper price than the average contractor.
“The government has its labor force intact in the military. But they have not utilized the potential  of the defense force.”
The Papua New Guinea defense force  is currently undergoing reforms.  It is  expected  that by 2050,  the strength of the PNGDF will reach about 20,000 men and women. 
The engineering battalion  remains in desperate need of  new equipment and additional manpower.

A STORY OF PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE

When I was in first grade, I spent hours after school, in the Eastern highlands Provincial government  car pool while  my Dad – who was then the  Assistant  Secretary for the Eastern Highlands  – carved  for hours on two large pine logs. 
    At the time I didn’t know what he was doing.  But he was always doing stuff like that.  Carving and fixing something.   One night mum asked why he wanted to carve  around the letters instead of carving out the letters. 
So we took a short drive on our way home to  what was then PNG stationary in Goroka Town  a few meters away from Yanepa  building where the provincial  headquarters was located.  He flashed the vehicle lights on the signboard  that had the letters protruding from the pine log.
“That’s what I want to do,” he said.  
It was a lot more work and it took a lot more time.  I was at school when the logs was erected  – I think – in 1983.    The first time I saw the logs again many years later was in 2000 when I traveled to Goroka.  It had stood the test of time.
    Then again last week,  I took  a picture of  the logs. After, 30 years, the treated pine logs still stand as perfectly as they were erected long ago. They’re now starting to show signs aging.  But they still stand as a testament to the perseverance, patience and determination  of   a man who remains  my greatest hero. You rock!

POLITICAL EVOLUTION – A NEW TREND OF COOPERATION

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An emerging trend of close cooperation  between members of parliament in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe province  is changing the face of  rural development.
Gisuat Siniwin, Nawaeb MP.  No man is an island.

MPs  sharing common  borders are beginning to work together on projects  of common benefit.  It’s a far cry from the days when political party rivalry  took precedence over the common good.

Nawaeb’s  Gisuat Siniwin and Kabwum’s Bob Dadae   are examples. They   began working together because  they share common challenges and difficulties.  The Nawae  electorate shares a common land border with   Kabwum.   People in both electorates grow coffee.   Both electorates have transport infrastructure challenges, high maternal and infant mortality rates and low literacy.
Ross Seymour, Huon Gulf MP
“Members of Parliament need to work together,”  Siniwin says.  “there is no other way.”
Just recently,  Siniwin and Dadae   announced  the start of work on a jointly funded  coffee mill worth  1.6 million kina.  It will serve people in coffee growing areas of Boana, and  landlocked areas in Kabwum.   They’re also talking  about road construction between the two electorates but that’s still a long way off.   They have to work out how  they’re going to cross  the hundreds of  mountain ridges of the Sarawaged Ranges.  
            “We belong to the same place,” Kabwum’s Bob Dadae told a meeting of landowners from Nawae who were granted a permit to operate a coffee mill. “Whatever benefit that goes to Nawaeb will also come to Kabwum.”
Theo Zurenuoc, Finchafen MP. Cost of service delivery is very high.
            In Bulolo,  a new road being constructed    into the Buang area has opened up new opportunities  for people in Salamaua in the   Huon electorate.   Bulolo’s   rural  electrification program and the road will be extended into the Huon Gulf. That’s the result of brainstorming sessions between  Bulolo’s Sam Basil and Huon Gulf’s  Ross Seymour.  
Building roads is no easy feat.
            Both men are  members of  the opposition party in parliament.  Seymour a fist time MP, has been discussing the possibility of connecting a road from  Buang into the Huon Gulf which will, for the first time, connect the coastal government station  to the provincial  capital of Lae.
            “It’s good for the districts. Its good for the province and it’s good for the country,” says  Seymour.  
            At the other end of the province,  in Finchafen,  where service delivery takes up 70 percent of  project costs,  The Finchafen MP,  and speaker of parliament, Theo Zurenoc hopes to  connect roads into Pindiu linking Kabwum and Finchhaefen.
            If they succeed in  achieving those tasks in this term,   they will have done more  than what their predecessors did in previous  terms.

SALIM TINGTING – A POEM BY MANGI NAMBIS

I’ve been reading poems by Mangi Nambi (whoever he is) for 9 years now. He is a master at weaving poetry in Tok Pisin.  I’ve tried as much as possible to translate the poem and do justice to the images he conveys.  It’s a poem about  the longing to return home. More Poems by Papua New Guinean writers can be found here: http://www.network54.com/Forum/204635/

Liklik kandre blo kol win (a gentle breeze, liklik kandre=nephew of the big wind)
Pilai giligili lo tupla liklik pisin (tickles two little birds)
Sindaun singsing antap lo marmar (singing on a marmar tree)
Lo wanpla nambis lo ailan Karkar (on a beach on Karkar Island)

Ol i lus tingting nau lo singsing (they’ve  stopped singing)
ol i lap plandi, nogat mining (they laugh for now reason at all)
lo kainkain ol samting nating (at the most unimportant things)
Ol i spak, lo wanpla naispala morning (they’re drunk with pleasure(?) on this nice morning)

Mi salim yet, disla krangi tingting… (I’m thinking of home, I send this thought)
Wees! Yau blo mi ring (My ears are ringing)
Ating sampla lain iwok lo harim? (I think someone has heard)
Na bekim (and is sending a message back to me)

Namel blo yar nau (it’s the middle of the year)
Oiyo, mi wet igo (I’m still waiting)
Na klostu bai mi mau (I’ve grown tired, I’ve become ripe from waiting, grown old)
Krismas istap longwe mo…. (Christmas is still faraway, the end of the year is still far away)