Category Archives: PNG

Combatting Bullying in PNG

Earlier this year I attended a BBQ with my husband to watch one of the State of Origin Football matches. My husband, BG and I were the only expats there so we stood out like a sore thumb. Some of the kids were keen to engage me in conversation- probably because I was the ‘white lady’ haha.

Anyhow, a little girl of about 9 years old started to tell me about school and how she was being bullied by a boy in her class. We chatted about how bullying isn’t right but that it seems to be in every school. She went on to tell me that this boy, ‘had an operation when he was a baby and has a cut here…’ (she drew a line across her mid back towards her front which indicated to me it was probably his kidneys) ‘…and he has to go to the toilet a lot because of it…’ (yep! his kidneys!) ‘…we told the teacher he is being mean to us and she said…’

So this is where the punch line comes in but I’m not going to tell you just yet what the teacher said. At this point I began to wonder just how they might tackle bullying in PNG. Back in Australia, everyone has their opinions on how to tackle it and generally speaking, none of the theories seem to be sticking (except for the few triumphs here and there). It seems that with every step forward, there is also a few steps back. So I wondered… could PNG have a great example of how to deal with a bully and put an end to their disruptive behaviour?

The teacher responded with the following (this is word for word on what the girl told me)…

‘…she said, “Well next time he does it, you tell me so that next time he asks to go to the toilet I will tell him he cannot so that he will wet himself and you can laugh at him.’

Hmmm… somehow I don’t think PNG can offer a great solution just yet.

Featured image is thanks to the Holland Elementary School’s article on bullying.

Isolation

It’s that time again… when we are about to get on the move to another posting. Next year we will begin a new life in Townsville, Far North Queensland. We have moved cities (the number of houses is another thing!) a total of 4 times in the past 5 years because of Daryl’s work.

There are pros and cons to moving all the time. You can start with a clean slate for each move for example, or you can run from the awkwardness that may have developed among friends. I usually try to focus on the positives and not get caught up in the negatives. It doesn’t do anyone any good. A great positive is that I have some great friends in each place that I keep in contact with regularly. I would never have met them if I hadn’t lived all over the place and that’s another positive… I have lived in some far off places that I would never have dreamed of living in and I have LOVED it.

The hardest thing about living such a nomadic life is that I have always found making friends with people a tough business. It is really difficult to infiltrate that inner circle. I often think I have and that I have some great friends again but only to discover that they don’t feel the same and I am merely an acquaintance in their eyes. Each time I feel gutted but most times I understand it. If you aren’t in need of friends, you don’t place as much importance on your new friends.

Why is it that women make it so hard for one another to get on the inside though? I have watched Daryl in each move and admittedly he usually has friends from ADFA (The Australian Defence Force Academy) or RMC (The Royal Military COllege) who are posted to each location (something I get incredibly jealous of) however he doesn’t seem to have trouble invading a mate’s circle of friends. That’s what it is for women isn’t it? Invading…

So that is my greatest challenge as a Defence wife and I am finding it a lot harder now that I am a SAHM.

I was given a choice a few months back by another mother over here. She told me, ‘You should get a Pikinini Meri (PM- nanny) because you will regret it if you don’t especially when you see all the fun us other Mum’s are having at all those lunches where kids aren’t invited.’

I trialled a PM and it went terribly. It was incredibly stressful watching someone care for my daughter to a standard well below what I believe is basic… maybe I just had bad luck or maybe my standards are set really high but then again I felt, ‘Why on earth do I need a PM when I do nothing at home anyhow?’ I had a Haus Meri (HM- cleaner) at the time so I wasn’t even cleaning my own home nor was I working! I figured the lunches were something I was willing to sacrifice and to this day I know I made the right choice for both BG and I BUT it has certainly put me on the outter edge of the circle and some days that is just plain lonely…

But alas… I start again in 12 weeks don’t I? And that’s the positive I am going to focus on…

(not the fact I just started a sentence with ‘and’ for the very first time in my life… the perfectionist in me wants to rub it out now! OMG!)

Irresponsible Parenting

Thats my daughter driving the car with her Dad at only 11 months. That is what we do here (PNG)… Ok no it isn’t (we set this pic up) BUT we often have her on our laps especially at night and only sometimes in the day. You see PNG isn’t just the land ‘where anything can happen’ (according to the International media), it is also the land of ‘no rules’ or ‘rules are merely a suggestion’.

Now before you all start telling me I AM irresponsible, my reasons are fair and are carefully weighed up chances. I learned all about this when working as a nurse. Here’s a hypothetical scenario… Mr. Smith has cancer and has a 40% chance of survival. He needs to have medication X in order to have a chance of surviving BUT this medication has a 90% chance of giving him Kidney Failure. Do we A) give it to him?; B) try another cancer drug?; or C) give up and tell him he is going to die regardless? The answer is A peoples! We just give it to him and deal with the other issues IF they arise. You see it is all about calculated RISK.

How does this relate to my hubby and I not using the perfectly fine car seat for BG?

Well depending on the time of day over, we will decide if we should put her in the car seat or not. If it is during the day and we aren’t headed anywhere dodgy, we will stick her in the car seat. If it is night time (and we rarely go out at night anyhow) then we will have her on my lap as hubby drives.

Why?

The rate of car jackings increases at night and areas around our compound are ‘hot spots’. We don’t want to be messing about with the car seat buckle under the pressure of a carjacking experience. It is my biggest fear that I won’t get BG out in time. The chances of a car accident are a lot less than being car jacked at those times.

So now that I have made it sound really dangerous… You can actually go out without being carjacked, you just have to be aware of the risks and the potential that you can be carjacked particularly at certain times of the day. If it’s raining for example, you will more than likely be ok 🙂

Life within the boundaries

I often refer to living in a compound as ‘living in jail’ but what many of you don’t know is that in a past life, I was in jail… as the nurse! haha!

The difference between here and jail is that I am free to leave whenever I feel and we have a pool & bar area. Ok so there aren’t any cells we get locked into each night however the steel rape gate that locks us into the top floor each night could easily draw the parallel 🙂

For the past week BG and I have been going for a walk each morning around 8am to wave goodbye to all the cars as people leave for work. She loves this time especially all the attention she gets from everyone as they ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over her. She is getting pretty popular here and she knows it! haha! Anywhos… on one of our morning walks I decided to take the camera and get some shots of our compound for you to see. I have tried to make them look nice using Instagram because in all honesty there isn’t a hell of a lot of colour in this place. It is a jail after all 😛

So… here is BG waving goodbye to people on her little corner behind the guard house (she isn’t happy in the pic cause I walked away to get the photo)…

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This is the front gate…

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Here are some of the guards at the front gate with Zeus, one of the guard dogs…

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These are our tennis courts with signs in both English and Tok Pisin (Pidgeon English)…

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This is the kids pool and the adults 25 meter pool…

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This the ‘Haus Win’ or pool side bar and BBQ area; the second pic shows the games area and kids play area in the background…

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The gym…

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The stairs to the squash courts viewing area – I had no idea we even had a squash court until a few months ago!

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The soccer field (it’s pretty bumpy and a hazard on your ankles but it’s a field to use nevertheless)…

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The bottom (of the hill) car park with the gardeners arriving for work on the back of the truck- it’s big because we have a Happy Hour at the Haus Win on a monthly basis where each person within the Aussie High Comm can invite up to 5 guests…

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A garden area above the tennis courts (in the bottom car park area)…

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Walking back up our street (at the end, it turns to the right where there is a culder-sac with 8 more houses; mine is in the culder-sac)…

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So that’s life in the compound and I’m only just starting to get used to it and I leave in 3 months!

Those perfect aisles at the NEW SUPERMARKET!!!

The other day I refered to the new supermarket in this post and how they have taken so much pride in their lovely new shelves. I promised a sneaky pic of the most perectly lined up baked beans I have EVER seen so here it is…

Do you think they are slightly OCD on their presentation like I do?

Getting my Zen back

You may have noticed that my blog has been lying dormant for the past 6 weeks. That is because I took a last minute holiday from PNG at the recommendation of my psychologist. Unfortunately I ended up heading down a dark path – one that had begun but accelerated tenfold in its production after I watched the carjacking.

I have always been a person who needs my space. Without some me time, I become easily agitated and emotional. My me time is my chance to recharge my batteries so that I can be completely there at any given moment. It is very important and I would even suggest that everyone needs a bit of me time but the amount of me time would vary from person to person. I lost my ability to have me time as I pleased when I became a mother. Nothing could have prepared me for the frustration I had begun to feel or the grief at losing… well… me. What I didn’t realise then was that I just hadn’t learnt to accept that my me time was no longer on demand and I needed to adjust to scheduled times.

So there I was 6 weeks ago, in a dark, dark place where I could not think of even 1 positive thing to think or say or do. My husband noticed it and even spoke with me about changing my thought patterns. Luckily for him I took what he said on board and tried however didn’t have the skills or knowledge on how to put that into practice. I would try to think of a positive and then quickly find my mind throwing back a negative to counteract the hard work of thinking a positive thought!

My last minute trip, as recommended by the psychologist and eagerly pushed by my husband meant that I went to the Gold Coast in Queensland for 3 weeks (2 of which my husband came) and then 3 weeks in Los Angeles and Toronto where my sister and brother live respectively.

Whilst on the Gold Coast, I started hunting for some books on motherhood- the trials and tribulations and whatnot. I just wanted to read with encouragement that what I was feeling was normal. I particularly wanted to find books that encouraged ‘mindfulness’ as my psychologist had thrown that term around a few times with regard to troublesome relationships I have. In our last session, we also discussed separating the emotion from a feeling so as to observe the feeling rather than launch right into it and feel every inch of it.

I came across a few books and the majority were about Buddhism. Now I’m not Buddhist however I have always agreed that there are aspects of Buddhism that can only be good for the soul. I am a Christian and hold those values very dear to my heart and I am not about to compromise on my Christian faith however the lessons I have learned from ‘Buddhism for Mothers’ by Sarah Napthali have made great improvements to my overall outlook on my life as it is today.

I can now find joy in each moment, no matter how boring it may seem because I know how to look for it. My joy is now coming from being mindful, being in the now, not allowing my mind to think about the past or future and what it all means to me. I’ve been consciously trying to keep my mind in the now for only a couple of weeks and it is pretty easy to get distracted. Life happens! I don’t get frustrated with myself, I just kindly note to myself that I really cannot control the past or future and therefore I am wasting energy and time and missing what is in fact happening right now. I can now be there for my daughter, be full of calm (most of the time! Haha!), and know that by filling my life with love and acceptance (thank you Jesus!) I am allowed to enjoy the joy in my life.

Oh and on the Haus Meri note… I don’t have one anymore. They are bad for my health. Bahahahaha!

So how do you find your Zen?

My carjacking experience

What a day I had yesterday! I returned to work after a month off, Daryl fired the Haus Meri (yes that’s right! Woo hoo!!!!) and on my way back from work I watched an armed carjacking unfold. To say I was shaken is an understatement. The feeling of powerlessness and anger as a result of watching and speeding off is overwhelming even though I did everything I have been told to do! All I’ve done is play the scenario over and over for the last 24 hours wondering what could have been if this or that was to have happened. I have decided that writing this blog is going to be some sort of therapy whereby I can write it all out and release it… so to speak.

Since March this year, the main freeway (the Poreporeina) has been getting some major road works done. Part of the road collapsed where a stream that turns into a river in heavy rain goes under. There was torrential rain (not uncommon in the tropics) and the stream rose and essentially took half of the road with it. They have been working on it ever since. First they closed the whole road down causing absolute chaos on the roads around PM but then about a week later they opened one side.

The Poreporeina is a double lane freeway with both directions separated by a wide median strip with trees spaced every few meters and surrounded by concrete walls acting as large flower pots in the middle.

So ensure that cars can go both ways, they have concreted over part of the median strip to essentially make a driveway for cars to cross over, avoid the road works on one side and then cross back over again.

I have drawn a diagram for you which will hopefully help you to picture it a bit better:

Just a little note, the position of my car is where I was when the carjackers stopped their car (so when the actual carjacking started). By the time I was next to them, they were pulling out the gun.

How it panned out…

I was coming home around 12.30pm from the Australian High Commission Medical Clinic which is located on the airport side of the road works so I was heading towards Konedobu. As I was approaching the road works, I noticed a car on the other side just suddenly stop. Out loud, I said frustratedly, ‘What the hell is that person doing?’ As I said this, I was still moving slowly and saw 4 guys get out of the car with gangster-like attitude. The car immediately behind them began frantically reversing and trying to edge their way out… somewhere. It was obvious they were packing it and desperately seeking a way out. It was when I saw this car (the carjackee) that I realised what was happening. Just as my window was next to the thugs, they pulled a gun (I have circled the gunman on my map). I floored it.

I was very shakey and immediately grabbed my radio to make a call to security but luckily realised that wasn’t a good idea because they would think I was being carjacked and would send a response vehicle so I found my phone and phoned security instead. Frantically I told them what was happening at THIS MINUTE!!!

After phoning security I phoned Daryl to make sure he wasn’t in the area too. Then I just started thinking about it more and more.

I wish I had been able to do something. What would I have done if I was being car jacked there? What exit points are available? None. I’d have to surrender most likely and then I worry… What if they try to rape me? I hear about those stories from time to time. Oh shit! What if I had BG with me? That really scares me. It makes me feel nauseous thinking of that scenario.

This morning I woke and immediately thought about it again getting pissed that I couldn’t do anything to stop these bastards from putting someone through such a traumatic event (I’m talking about the carjackee, not me). I realised that I could have rammed them with my car! If only I’d turned right, squishing the two on my side between my car and theirs and kept going so I could knock the other two over too! I had the speed because no one was in my way on my side. I would have gotten a really good run up on them and they wouldn’t have known what hit them! I wish I thought quick enough and f@#ked them over like that. Sorry about the language… I’m just so mad that I was powerless. Besides, who knows if the concreted barrels would have slowed me too much or not AND stuffed up my car so much that I couldn’t make my quick get away after at least making them wet themselves.

Who knows what vigilantes would have worked or not? I guess that’s why I am advised to just keep driving… FAST!

*Addition (since writing this blog this morning): I just went out with Daryl and we drove through the spot again… looking at it, ramming them most likely wouldn’t have worked. The drums between me and the carjackers have big blocks of concrete that my car would not have gotten through or over. It looks like my only option was to ignore it, hope the person got out physically unharmed (and mentally I suppose) and drive on. It is the perfect spot for carjackers and now I am an advocate for no trees on median strips. Keeping them bare, despite not being as nice on the eyes, should be a priority in PNG so that people can always mount the curb and drive out of there. Exit points people!*

Well anyhow, that was my experience of a carjacking first hand. It makes me mad hearing about them, now I’m real mad having watched one. I don’t really want to go out anymore although I know that isn’t a good solution. I’ll go batty staying in the compound 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. I wanted out of this country immediately after it happened and started planning a trip back to OZ for the weekend but have decided that would be a bad idea because I might not come back. Hopefully I will forget about it in a few weeks or at the very least the memory will be fuzzy and distant…

Have you had a scarey experience overseas? If so, what happened?

Now that’s off my chest… I can revel in the fact that my HM is GONE GONE GONE!!!! Woo hoo!!!

P.S. Apparently she told Julie’s HM, Susan, not to suggest her cousin to me because I told her I wanted to find one on my own. I told Susan that was a lie so her cousin will come in a month and Susan will continue coming here twice a week in the mean time and then hand over to her cousin with a training day and everything… things are looking up! 🙂