Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 10

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.
15 February 2013.

My first night shift. Started my day with a long facebook chat with Liesl, before chilling out for the rest of the morning.

When shift started, it was straight into ministry with S and I sitting with a group of Tamil ladies. After a while, I got to hear how a lot of them feel like it would be better had they stayed in Sri Lanka and died, or died in the boat on the way to Australia, than have come to Manus Island. She complained how the staff have better living quarters than them (it’s true), and how Eurest (the catering company) can never get the food right – either it’s too spicy for the Iranians, or lacking flavour for the Tamils. I think one of their biggest complaints is that they don’t know why they were chosen to come here. There were others on their boat, but in some cases only two from that boat were transferred to Manus. There seems to be no logic or reasoning to it. She did complain that us Salvation Army people are only here for a month and then we forget about them. I told her that I had talked to people who had come to both Manus and Nauru, and while they did go back to Australia, they never forgot about the people. I said that I know already that I won’t forget the people here and that when I get home, I will be fighting for the rights and proper, prompt treatment of those on Manus Island and Nauru.

The rest of the shift was pretty quiet – I helped out in cantee, then played volleyball, before looking after the Internet room all night.

Mental state – Good. My heart broke, hearing the stories of the Tamil ladies, but it strengthened my resolve to be here, and to continue the fight when I get home.

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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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