Here is some work by PNG artist, Kipling Ninawale

Kipling Ninawale is a graphics artist at EMTV. Recently he has been publishing some of his work on Facebook. I asked his permission to post on my blog. From time to time, he goes back to the basics – pen and paper. This guy is brilliant!

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The picture of a grieving mum from Western Province that told a million stories…

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A few days ago, I asked Sally Lloyd about the picture she posted on Facebook of a distraught mother weeping over the body of her baby who had died.  This is the story behind the picture.

“They are from Fomabi Village near Nomad.

It’s in Nomad LLG – I think… middle Fly in Western Province. The child got sick with pneumonia, I believe and Nomad Health Centre could not help them. The facility there has been very run down and ill equipped for a very long time.  They then had to make the long walk to Mougulu health centre for many hours to get further help.

Unfortunately, the child died the following afternoon, and without any helpers with them the parents had to walk back to their village with the dead child.

They were of course heartbroken and very hard to send them on their way into darkness and a storm. The woman has already faced some difficulties in her life. She was totally distraught, waving her arms and crying out. When I went to the clinic she said it’s her first time to visit Mougulu and this happened.

Earlier on Facebook, Sally posted:  “That sound I hate…the grief of the parents of this precious eight-month-old indicating the worst had happened.  This evening they have the long walk back (6 to 8 hours at least) to Fomabi Village with a very heavy burden – almost too much to bare.51168223_10157067201174189_3222924870299942912_n

“The father offloaded some heavy food items and we gave high protein food and fish, a torch and umbrella- it’s going to storm tonight. God knows how much we need that emergency vehicle – to bring patients more quickly, but also for parents who should not have to walk a day (or all night) to get home and bury their child.

“RIP Ezekiel.”51547945_10157067201219189_974107864157126656_n

Student journalist & eldest of 4 quits school, says he’ll support mum pay fees for his brothers

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Suli Suli 

My name is Suli Suli. I was studying Communications Arts (Journalism) in Divine Word University.  I  completed my second year in 2018.

My parents divorced when I was doing grade 5  in 2009. I’ve spent almost my  life, living with my grandmother in the village. My  mother has always been the one who bears the  burden in terms of school matters. I’m the eldest in the family of 4 brothers.

After  completing grade 12 at Sogeri National High in 2016. I applied to study in DWU and was accepted. I wanted  to study Law in University of Papua New Guinea but I doubted that I would make it because I was afraid of the possibility of  failing my exams and getting a lower GPA. So I applied to DWU to study Journalism.

I don’t regret the decision I made because I am content with what I am studying today.

My biggest achievement in life will be  to wipe my mother’s tears away with a graduation gown and a degree in  hand.

I aim to be an investigative journalist in the future and also become a human rights lawyer.

Even though my mother and father  remarried.  My mother  has always been the one who gives us the  hope and determination  to excel in life. She is  a receptionist with IPA but manages to make us happy all the time. It takes a strong woman to raise children, face challenges, go through struggles and hardships just to make me and my three brothers happy.

I am  grateful that she’s still alive and well. I can’t imagine life without her. Last year, my second born brother was not able to school. Only  my two  brothers  and I continued our studies.

Since my first year in university, my father had paid my school fees. But this year he wasn’t able to pay my school fees as well as that of my brothers’.

So, this year,   I decided to stay out of school  and let my three brothers to go to school while I look for employment  to save some money to pay my own school fees next year.

I’m happy to stay home this year, but I will still continue my studies whenever I have enough money to pay for my school fees. If this is God’s plan, then let it be. I am happy to take on this challenge.

Staying positive with whatever that comes my way. I’ll see this problem as a stepping stone to be better in life.

*Suli Suli did an internship with EMTV in 2018.  He is unable to continue with his second year of studies because his dad is unable to pay. 

What is AES & HECAS? 1st year UPNG students told to pay up to K10,000 if they want campus accommodation

Games vill

So today as a first time UPNG parent, I was confronted with the UPNG fee structure.

For a first year arts student, we were told to pay K4242 in compulsory tuition fees.  As parents, no problems there. It’s a bit of a pain but we are willing to pay for tertiary  education.

What annoyed me the most was that the cheapest  accommodation on campus – a basic twin share room cost K8562.  Accommodation is actually more expensive than actual teaching and learning and it’s handled by student services.

Students were told for the board and lodging, you will have to ‘consult Student Services and have that sorted out.’

Here are the accommodation costs for BASIC TWIN SHARE ROOMS:

  1. Waigani Campus – K8,562
  2. Taurama Health Services – K8,890
  3. Taurama BOH/BOS, MMBS, DAS – K10,247
  4. Tauram Nursing – K9,883

And the prices go up with the highest being the Games Village TWIN SHARE ROOMS  leasing (yes, “leasing” because that’s what it is) for  K12,000.  That’s K1000 per month plus the K250 for the bond.  Also note in the costs above that It costs more for a future nurse and doctor’s accommodation at UPNG. I would understand if the tuition fees are high.

Retired PNGDF Commander, Major General Jerry Singirok, took his son to register today at the Games Village.  He was disappointed after paying a hefty accommodation fee. He posted on Facebook.

“Games village accommodation showers and toilets are not working and rooms are in a mess. I spent most of the morning carting water and cleaning my son’s room. But no running water in the ablution block. UPNG admin had over six weeks to prepare. Even grass overgrown and many furniture thrown on the lawn and rusting away.
This is supposed to be a premiere University?”

In short, a first year student on the Government Academic Excellence Scholarship looking for the cheapest accommodation on campus will have to pay  K13,0554

UPNG

The UPNG Student Services Division has attempted to explain the reasons for  demanding the fee payments in their current form.  In short,  they are saying the  parents  must pay up because funds for the government HECAS and AES scholarships will not be paid on time.  The memo didn’t have any official letterhead and was unsigned.

For the University of Technology in Lae, the costs are more than 50 percent lower than UPNG and accommodation costs  cost 90 percent less.  Parents  and guardians of  a student on AES  will pay K4,139.7 This includes tuition (K1771.56),  Board and lodging (K424.59), a Compulsory fee (K1096.61), and a laptop. Bottom line is parents know what they are paying for.

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A journey not for the faint of heart| By Pisai Gumar

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It is no faint hearted human’s walk to interior of  Kokosan & Damet villages. The journey took over two days beginning at Torowa, Upper Erap, Nawaeb District  in Morobe.

The villages  share inter-district borders with Sapmanga in  Kabwum & Wantoat.

I walked, walked & walked. Up & down steep mountains, around & around steep cliffs, down & across fast flowing streams that find their way crashing down into Erap River  and  gushing down against huge boulders to marry with Markham River.

Through the  green coffee gardens decorated by red berries, I kept walking. In some coffee  gardens, the aromatic perfume from newly blooming   flowers filled my nostrils.

The smells kept up my strength and kept my  mind awake, although my ankles were  already exhausted. My toenails  and the  soles of my feet rubbed against rocky pathways causing  blisters.  Blood oozed. My feet trembled  and my  body felt like it was about to fall down when krusako leaves trapped my legs. 

Yet I pursued this interesting experience for four  reasons: 

1. To experience & explore hardships in remote areas and meet people who struggle to live with it.

2. See the source of mighty Busu & Erap Rivers that split & find their own ways down… The Busu ending at  Wagang (Sipaia) & Erap into Markham river.

3. To spend five  days  of  2016 Christmas  with  the Kokosang people.

4. To meet and  elder (pictured)  who I wrote about  two years earlier in mid 2014.

 I read the two daily newspapers each day  and  feel a hole  in my kind heart, when politicians make a  mockery of the people   saying:  “…The health delivery system is okay… drugs & TFF, school materials are reaching schools…” Or   “…we’ve committed this much to construct this/that road. It will improve/develop people’s wellbeing…”

In actual fact, the picture depicts real struggles in our rural Papua New Guinea.

Many still haven’t seen a vehicle tyre, nor even the tyre tracks on mud.

One wonders how the mothers give birth.   Which aid posts do they go to for family planning?  Where do kids go to school?

Despite the odds, you will find  Church buildings t in the middle of all these villages.

God Bless my heart for Morobe & Papua New Guinea!

Cancer treatment: Breaking down the financial costs to PNG families

pppMany Papua New Guineans don’t know about  the cost of cancer treatment until one member gets sick.

The diagnosis alone is problematic.  In rural districts and outstations, many community  health workers are not equipped  with the awareness which would trigger a referral to a major hospital.

But that is just one problem.

Take for example, a place like Baindoang in the Nawaeb District of Morobe province.  It is only accessible by plane.  A young mum with  the early stages of cervical  or breast cancer will not be able to get  the proper diagnosis until the disease is in its late stages.

If the community decides to send her to Lae,  they will have to raise  at least  K2000  for airfares and treatment in Lae City. It is big money for a village community.   There is no certainty of the time it will take for them to remain in the city.   I’ve come across wives separated from their husbands and children for weeks and months.

Many give up and die lonely deaths surrounded by strangers who become family.

Many are left with no means of talking  with their families either because of the lack of mobile network coverage or no means of buying a plane ticket back home.

There are unclaimed bodies at the Angau hospital morgue. Some came from remote outstations.

For urban families, access to health care is relatively better.  But still not good enough.  One person sent me a message on Facebook telling me how his sister died while waiting for the test results of tissue samples that had been sent to Port Moresby.

When the tests are positive for cancer and the radiotherapy option is suggested, the families will have to start rising upwards of  K150,000 if the treatment venue is in the Philippines or Australia.  It takes a lot of families and whole communities to raise that money.

If your family has a good number of siblings, aunts and uncles  who are in formal employment, the burden is relatively easier. If not, a public appeal is put out.  Old school friends, colleagues or sports club team mates come to help raise funds.

The money is used for airfares, passports, accommodation, food and treatment.

Today, I learned that a CT scan used for cancer detection costs an average of  K4000 at private hospitals for one session.  How many families can pay K4000 without even remotely  thinking of the cost burden?

In Papua New Guinea,  palliative care – the process of making a cancer sufferer comfortable in his or her last days  through medication – is almost nonexistent in the public health system.

Traditionally, that part of care is done by the family.  But with the breakdown of family structures, care is heavily reliant on the family’s financial resources.

Also today, I learned that a pack of four vials of morphine costs K100.  For a cancer patient the family needs to spend K100 a day to ensure some level of comfort for their loved one.  That’s K700 a week, K1400 a fortnight and K2800 a month.

I’ve been told more than once by health authorities not to ‘sensationalize’ the cancer treatment problem because it affects a relatively  small number of people compare to HIV, TB, typhoid and malaria.

My point has always been that cancer is not only a health burden, it is an economic and financial burden that affects much more than just the patient.

We need to look honestly at the realities that exist.

Overseas cancer treatment has become the biggest financial burden on PNG families

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On Friday,  I asked the Planning Minister,  Richard Maru, what he thought about the  lack of cancer treatment facilities in Papua New Guinea.  The questions was directed to him as Planning Minister and a member of the government.

Minister Maru  didn’t have all the answers  but he said he would bring the Health Minister, Dr. Puka Temu,  with him to Lae  on his next visit.

Cancer affects a relatively small population of people in Papua New Guinea compared to other illnesses like  malaria and TB.  But it is  one of the most expensive to treat and puts an enormous  financial burden on an increasing number of families in papua New Guinea.

Like many others have also been affected, cancer has also affected Richard Maru’s family.   In the next sitting of Parliament, he says he  will be supporting the legislation  to enable the revitalization of the National Cancer treatment center in Lae.

The disease doesn’t discriminate.

Every week,  Papua New Guinean families  are fundraising to send a loved one overseas.  For one family, I know of, they have decided  to make life comfortable for their dear mum, because the cancer is already  in its advanced stages.

Every family affected by cancer needs to raise up to K150,000 to go to the Philippines  for treatment. It is the ‘cheapest’ option for them.  Of course,  many of the costs are presented in US dollars.  The low value of the Kina doesn’t help at all.

The costs are relatively higher in Australia depending on where you look and what you want.

An industry has developed on the back of suffering Papua New Guinean families willing to pay big money.  “Medical tourism,” they call it.  Small Philippine SMEs are offering transport options,  important contacts, accommodation options and more depending on your budget.

It is absolutely disgusting when this is allowed to happen.

Why has it taken seven years for Parliament to  pass  that  legislation governing the use and transportation of  cobalt, the radioactive material used in cancer treatment?  Is it because of a lack of understanding?  A lack of will?

Families who don’t have K150,000 have to work very hard  to raise it.  There is a general feeling of weariness but  people still find the strength to go on, to ask other families to support the fundraising activities for their mother, sister or daughter.

A large number of men also need the same kind of help. But they get less attention.  Maybe many more continue  will turn a blind eye to this lingering problem until it comes knocking on our doors.