Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 18

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.
23 February 2013. 12 days to home.

Day off today. Went to the beach for a swim with N and C, then went for a walk to see the Mangrove. Even though I put sunscreen on, I got pretty badly sunburnt. Will be much more careful from now on.

This afternoon, I finished some more sketches of music. I now have ideas for the beginning, middle and end. I can’t wait to get home and start orchestrating it and putting it together in full. I think it should be really good.

Tonight, we had a local band and dancers come to entertain the fmailies. It was so wonderful to see them with huge smiles on their faces, dancing, and interacting with each other – no matter the age or culture barriers.

I was reminded of numerous episodes of M*A*S*H, where such celebrations were always put back in their place when the hard reality of war came back with more casualties. I was wondering whether it was worth it, and whether the community members will face the harsh reality of tomorrow, that of continues indefinite detention. But then I am reminded of the numerous times Hawkeye or Father Mulchahy sucessfully pointed out that even just an hour where people can forget about the fact that they are living in a hell hole is worth all of the harsh realities. And I think that is the truth. While the reality may hit hard, the hour or two of joy tonight was certainly worth it.

Mental state – Great. Got to talk to Liesl and Annabelle today, and was great to see them. It’s tough for them, but I know they support me through this, and I couldn’t do it without that.

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