Monday, November 28, 2005


A sample of some of the wonderful art that I've been collecting over the last couple of months. It's the faces that I love - so much variety and colour - they really capture the vibrancy (and the toughness) of the culture.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Making the most of it

Only 2 weeks left from today, and getting more and more reluctant to leave with each day.

With only a couple of weekends in POM up my sleeve, I spent this one trying to pack as much in as possible - Ela Beach markets, where my girls were at it with their selling again (and I went kinda crazy spending too); second-hand shopping for last-minute bargains; sunning and swimming in the pool at Nev's; the Business & Professional Women's Association fundraiser (better than it sounds!); clubbing at the Pondo; more swimming and then catching up with the-man-with-the-movie-star-name this afternoon (told you I'd be making you famous on here, Rick). And a very funny MSN conversation this arvo with the little sister of a kid I taught in Kindy (she must be all of 6 or 7). Here's a sample:

How's Billy?
not good
why not???
being a cow
his hisefits
oh dear. have you been teasing him?
why else would be be mad?
he did,t get the wach outof the cearl box

Renee did a good job with this one's writing - she's only in Year 1! Maybe she should set up her own blog???

All round, a good weekend, ahead of a busy week.

Every minute counts at this stage.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Banana Season again

Well it’s been that time of year again – another round of sex ed and HIV/AIDS classes across the school, beginning this week with the Grade 11s, and moving onto Grade 9 next week.

Last year I managed to do most of the school, but lots of our Grade 11s are new this year, so Doris asked me if I’d start with them during her guidance lessons.

So, it was off to the National AIDS Council for another round of props on Monday (excuse me, but I’m from Marianville girls school and I need about 50 condoms, if I could please. It’s my birthday today…), and after picking up a boot-load of pamphlets and posters and bumper stickers and of course, rubbers, it was Foodworld next stop – fruit and veg section…

Tuesday was 11W and 11Y, and Thursday (this session was much anticipated, following stories from their friends) was Pia’s class, the 11Ps. Fortunately I have a lot of these girls for my IT classes, so I’ve got to know some of them quite well, and I think that really helped when it came to making them (and me!) feel comfortable. They were all quiet at first (even though the first period was the easy one, translating basic facts about AIDS from pidgin to English) but once we started moving into the sex talks and the condom demonstrations we got a lot of laughs out of it, and girls were certainly paying attention - especially when I pulled out the enormous zucchini I'd brought along with the bananas, and offered it to Mrs Andrew when it was her turn to be part of the condom race!!! Very funny. She was the one I'd been shopping with specially for this purpose, and when I showed her the zucchinis as an alternative, she just laughed and said "one African one!" - not thinking for a second that I'd actually buy it! Wooee, I got in trouble for that one later!!

Question time got better with each class and it was great to see how comfortable they became after an hour or so – big change from the first 15 minutes when they could barely say ‘HIV can be passed on through having sex without using a condom’. For the last class a couple of other teachers sat in on it too (word certainly gets round the staff room that Ms Conolly’s up to her banana tricks again!) and that was great because they were able to offer comments or add extra culturally-relevant information (eg apparently it’s the thing in PNG now for teenage boys to circumcise themselves – so you must always use a fresh razor to do this – never share… urggghhh). And actually, one of the best things about the whole experience this time round was having one of these teachers come up to me afterwards (one who I’ve never quite known where I stand with), put her arm around me and say “You know, I’m just so proud of you for doing this, getting up there and helping them with all that – it’s really important that these girls know this.”

Yup, it is.

Grade 9 next week, and I promise I’ll try for photos this time – preferably with my AVI T-shirt on and posters up all round so I can demonstrate that I’ve been a good little volunteer, doing her bit for HIV awareness in PNG…

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bondei b'long mi

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's been a great day and a big thank you to everyone who sent me birthday emails -and sorry to my mum and dad (and anyone else) who tried to call this morning - gotta love Telikom's style, going out on such a special day! Hope you can get through tonight.

Woke up to Pia's cooked breakfast and flower-laden table, and not only a beautiful basket and some lovely shell jewellry, but also a BEAUTIFUL string of hand-carved mis shells - I've been looking longingly at these traditional shell money strings at every market, and she couldn't have picked a better gift - made me cry!

I didn't tell any of my Grade 11 girls here about it being my day - it's not a big deal here - but it was a morning full of grins anyway, after having most of them catch me on the dance floor Saturday night!

And speaking of that, I must be getting old - the multivitamins, panadol and copious amounts of water ensured that the Sunday morning hangover was minimal (and I'm sure the endorphins of an early morning meeting with someone special helped too!), but I'm definitely feeling the after-effects of all that dancing today - I'm all creaky knees and sore hips - going up and down those stairs to the IT Lab was hard work!

And to continue the celebrations, I'm about to head off to night study duty! Happy Birthday!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Party Night

Well yesterday certainly was a big day!

To stop me jumping about all afternoon, Pia and I picked Barbra (her sister) up around 5, and went for milkshakes before coming home to get ready for the Big Dance. This was the Marianville Fundraising Dance Doris and I had been collecting tickets and money for for the last month (competing against my calendars, I might add, so a bone of contention I threw in her face whenever I could!), and the one that had advertised my name in the national paper for the last month, despite my protests. It was at the Country Club, and we knew from the pre-dance sales that it was going to be a big night. And it was - 618 people walked through the door according to the security guard with his little counter, and by the time it hit 1am the dance floor was so crowded you could barely move (and in fact, a few fell in the pool). The three of us had started getting ready at 6pm (the bus was due to pick us up at 6.30), with Barbra and I insisting Pia wear the new sexy little top I'd got for her on a recent 2nd hand clothes jaunt. I didn't think we'd manage to convince her, but finally she succumbed (a moment in history for that determined little lady!) - think it was the vodka that did it in the end, as well as the fun of finding Barbra a shirt in a similar vein so we'd all be glammed up together. Anyway, by the time the bus arrived we were well and truly on our way to having a great night already. And by the time we hit the club, I was already in the mood for dancing, so off we went...

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sisters, gearing up for a big night out!

It was one of the funnest nights I've had in ages. I wasn't sure what it was going to be like, knowing students were going to be there (those over 18 - or able to convince the bouncers that they were anyway...) but actually it was kinda fun to see them - everywhere you went you'd be running into current students, or ex-students, or parents of students, or other staff. It was just like a huge party. About 6 of my ex Grade 10s were there and a whole swag of the girls from my IT classes, as well as a couple of my class parents, and I had a dance or two with each of them throughout the night - and kept a close eye on those girls of mine dancing up very close with boys who looked way too old for them... Will be teasing Marjie about her taste in men after last night, that's for sure!

Danced until my legs ached and my head was spinning. After a crappy couple of weeks in the staffroom, and so much tension mixed with boredom across the school, it was so much fun to just forget everything, let go and laugh.

The bus ride home was the longest in history - didn't make it to bed til 4am - but we'd all had a ball. Another great night to add to the collection of moments that have defined my POM experience.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Speaking of the Thorn Birds...

came home smiling this afternoon ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Water at night

Just had my first night swim here in Moresby, at the Gateway Hotel, and it was heavenly. I can't believe I'm only 3 1/2 weeks from leaving, and I've only just been to this place. A beautiful blue pool, tables and chairs at a poolside cafe, and they don't charge you to swim! Four of us went there for dinner tonight, and not only did we have the pool almost to ourselves (at the start anyway), but we could order pizza from the room service menu (because the cafe was shut for the evening) and they brought drinks and dinner specially out to us. Alright! Think I'll be going back there a couple of times before I leave.

Lovely to swim under the storm clouds, although we didn't get the rain I was hoping for, with just enough light to see the frangipanis, and to hear the mangoes falling on the cafe roof. Lovely company, lovely night. Starting to empathise more and more with Meggie Cleary...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


You cannot build character and courage by taking away initiative and independence.

You cannot help people by doing for them what they should and could do for themselves.

- Abraham Lincoln

When Mrs Andrew and I went to our Chairman of the Board's office the other day, this is the message I spied in big letters on on his noticeboard.

Not a bad thing for the head of the Police Commission to have on his wall.

Something I need to have on mine too.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bazaar Women

Another successful day of selling, with my small army of girls in orange and white doing a roaring trade at the International Women's Bazaar at the Holiday Inn today. These girls really got into being businesswomen, refusing all offers of a break or a chance to finish up early, and selling another 3 boxes of calendars with no troubles at all (about 90 calendars sold altogether in a few hours).
They really stood out in a crowed room of adults all selling their various products - I left them to it the whole time because as one of the organisers commented, their beautiul uniforms and "fresh young faces" attracted everyone's attention, and they were excellent ambassadors for the school - and they raked in the cash!

Genny, pulling the customers in!

I felt sorry for the other group of Mville girls I left at the POM Grammar Market, because their trade was relatively slow today and they must have been a bit bored - but they also did a great job of promoting the school and the calendar, and are looking forward to Ela Beach again in a fortnight's time - if we have any calendars left by then...

Chubb comes through

Bloody good on AVI's insurance company, which quelled the minor heart attack I had on Friday, after learning that I had to have root canal therapy, right now, for a price that could have seen me all the way to Sydney and back. Friday night, still drooling and beginning to lose the numbness that had been holding back a new barrage of pain, got the call from Customer Care that let me know I wasn't going to have to sell off all my possessions to pay for the treatment I'd begun that morning - it would all be covered by AVI's medical insurance, and they'd sent a note to the lovely Dr Mills assuring him he would be paid.

Almost enough to get me reciting a Hail Mary in thanks and deference! Now if she could just do something about the 'residual discomfort'...

Thursday, November 10, 2005


you know it's bad when codeine doesn't even touch it.

going to Sr Angela's dentist tomorrow because my whole jaw is in agony and has been for the last 2 days.

don't know what's worse - anticipating the pain or the cost associated with the dreaded phrase I'm sure I'm going to hear ...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

RiceBag et al

A (much-needed) good weekend all round, including:
  • dinner with Neil, Josepha, Wailoni and the good Fathers from Neil's seminary on Friday night at the Crowne Plaza - an expensive night out but well worth it for the seafood buffet and sparkling company;
  • hanging out with Heidi on Saturday, including dilvulging all kinds of secrets usually reserved for late at night after a bottle or two of red, and checking up on Nev and the pool to make sure both are still functioning properly without our beloved Lea;
  • a quiet Saturday night enjoying the company of Xena and Gabrielle - Pia had gone out for the weekend so the show missed some of the added flavour her (just occasionally inane)questions and side-comments usually lend to the viewing experience, but a chuckle all the same;
  • a great Sunday in town with IslandBaby and her mates - secondhand shops, yum cha, mango-baseball, and checking out the rugby union boys - what more could you ask for? (answer: to have met her at the start of the year, not the end when she's about to leave for Lae and I'm about to leave for Sydney)(and for her to get back to work on that blog of hers - can't leave your fans hanging that way, girl)

All up, just what I needed before heading back to that staffroom and IT lab that sadly have become places more of dread than fun the last week or so. Here's hoping for an improvement this week...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Put PNG first

Around the time of the 30th Anniversary of Independence, there was a writing competition put out by the Cultural Commission (or some such body) for students to write a poem on the theme of putting PNG first.

At the World Teachers Day celebration a few weeks ago, Mrs Bobone (one of our English/Social Socience teachers) read aloud her poem which she'd written on the theme. I was really moved by it, so asked her if she could make me a copy. Thought maybe you'd appreciate it too.

Put Papua New Guinea First

When you’re first, it entails responsibilities
Obligations real or unrealistic rest upon your shoulders
When you’re first, you’ve got to try to please the rest
Cause you’re first, that’s your responsibility
If seasoned with justice and fairness
I’m not complaining cause you’re first, I put you there.

When you’re first you’ve got to be last in order to be first
When you’re first, serving is your calling
Whether they’re big or they’re small
Middle class or second class,
You serve them all cause
He’s your brother, she’s your sister
Despite the fact that they’re uncultured and unlearned
You treat them all the same
Cause he’s your brother she’s your sister

When you’re first, jumping the queue is not the norm
When you’re first you don’t deal under the tables, that’s for losers
When you’re first you don’t attend through the back door, that’s for cheats
You invite them through the front door and serve at your front desk
Cause you’re first, integrity and honesty are your middle name

When you’re first, feathering your nest shouldn’t be your best
Showing me the way then getting there is our shared dream
When you’re first you try to see the world through my eyes
Try on my shoes and walk a mile with me
Then when you’re first and deciding, you’ve got me at the back of your mind
The Utopia of our dreams is in the same distance within our reach

When you’re first, you don’t slap me across the face
When you’re first, you don’t stab me in my back.
You don’t leave me on the roadside to wither and die.
You don’t drag my name through the gutters or sell me out to gamblers
Because you’re first you love me and nurture me
Cause I’ve got within me the nature to hold you close to my heart and love you with my all

So that even when you’re first and I’m last we are a kindred spirit
Formed from the depths of the restless Pacific
A multitude of cultures do not pose a threat for we are survivors
Even when you’re first and I am last, we must find a rock amid the thousand storms
And merge we must
So that your dreams become my dreams and your aspirations become mine.
Guiding us towards the Utopia we dream of
So that you’re being first and my being last can be a force
That brings us out of that cyclical bondage
To set us upon a journey that has a goal at the end
A destination that has been forged by you’re being first and my being last

Eileen Bobone, 2005

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

bring it on

You know it's been a rough day when you come home and you desperately need the Tea Party, turned up LOUD and long.

An unbelievably, ridiculously explosive meeting today about the numberous on-going IT sagas, resulting in furniture being kicked and things thrown around the staffroom, accompanied by much yelling, and storming out (not, I hasten to add, me doing the leaving- though I can certainly say I was storming). GGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is one part of this place that I will be VERY glad to leave behind. December 11 can't come soon enough to be shot of it.