Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 7

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.

12 February 2013

Today started off simple, then got complicated. The mornings are always quiet, as many sleep until later in the day. So it’s often a case of hanging out in one of the meeting places until people start to show up. I’ve also been helping out in the canteen, so that fills up a bit of time.

This afternoon, while I wanted to catch up with X about his poem, I ended up spending most of the afternoon in the internet room. Not hard work, but the changeovers are tough. It would be interesting to see how it could develop into more of a ministry opportunity, than just assigning computers. It’s one of the few times community members come to you.

There was an incident towards the end of my shift. It made my adrenaline levels raised, but I think that for my part, I acted as best I could, did my role, and as such am OK now.

There was also a foreshadowing of things to come with news of the PNG Supreme Court case happening. If they announce that it is illegal and must be shut down, there will be rejoicing, followed by uncertainty about what happens next, and possibly anger over any statement from the Australian Government, and perhaps over them remaining locked up If the court declares it legal, then there could well be fights, protests, and increased levels of despair. Either way, the community will be a very different place over the next few days.

I had a chance to chat with Liesl tonight, and she said how Annabelle was growing up so much. She’s now saying Dadda and Nanna, as well as Mama. She’s now almost a size 3 in shoes. Every day, something new is developing. I’m missing her, and can’t wait to see her in person.

Mental state – OK. I’m doing fine, but I am cautious about my shift tomorrow, and about the community over the next few days.

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Author: Ben Clapton

I'm an Officer in The Salvation Army, currently appointed with my wife as Corps Officers at the Rochester Corps in country Victoria (20 minutes out of Echuca). I play violin and guitar, amongst many others, and love golf and running.

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