In 2013, myself and 5 other cadets from Catherine Booth College, along with three staff, went to Manus Island, PNG, as part of our training, to work as part of The Salvation Army’s Humanitarian team working in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. Four years on, I’ve decided to share my diary from that experience. Names have been changed, and I acknowledge that the centre has changed a lot since then, but it is my hope that this will share a bit of light into how our government is treating Asylum Seekers.
9 February 2013. First shift today. Working in Families from 9am – 7pm. However, I was first thrown into the intake of SAMs (Single Adult Males), where I was collecting their shoes to be cleaned, then returned. They were afraid that this new lot would be angry, however, it doesn’t seem like they have caused any commotion yet.
When I got to the Families, I was able to sit and chat with a couple of families, first a Sri Lankan family, then an Iranian. They were both wonderful, but the Iranians really tried to make me feel welcome. They even tried to teach me some Farsi, but all I remember is “Biya” – come.
In the afternoon, I helped out in the canteen, then the Internet room. Nice and chilled, nice and relaxed. [The canteen and Internet room were the two areas inside the camp that I could access that were air conditioned. The education room was also air conditioned, but I didn’t have need to go in there]
In the evening, I got to Facetime Liesl and Annabelle. It was so good to see their faces and to see that Annabelle still recognised me [She was six months at the time – this was a real concern of mine when leaving for a month. Also, that I’d miss her first steps]. I really do hope that she will walk/run to me when I first see her.
Mood – Good. I’m feeling settled both in the camp, and in my work.