Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 9

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.
14 February 2013.

Valentine’s Day, and a day off. Started off great – went for a run with S, then after a shower, I Facetimed Liesl and Annabelle. It’s so wonderful to be able to see them. Annabelle is growing up so much, and it’s only been a week. She’s now clapping, and walking with only one hand held. I know I’m missing it, but I’m so proud of her.

After our chat, I started writing some music. I’ve got in my head a march for commissioning, and it was great to be able to start putting notes down and to exercise those skills again.

In the afternoon, there was an incident where some community members in SAMs (Single Adult Males camp) escaped and went down to IHMS (International Health and Medical Services – the provider of medical services to the camp). We were told to congregate in the mess area and stay there until told it was safe. We were there for an hour and a half or so. After dinner, there were more escapes, and the staff going back into SAMs didn’t get in until 9pm.

All through this, I was feeling slightly nervous, but overall, I was ok. I felt safe in the way that it was handled once the situation had arisen, however I don’t think enough was done to avoid the situation.

I stayed up late to help me adjust to the night shift. Played Mafia and Jungle Speed with some of the other Salvos here, which was lots of fun.

Mental state – OK, but apprehensive about heading into SAMs. I still have a week before that happens, and things will change dramatically by then – hopefully for the better.

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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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