Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 29

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.

 

6 March 2013 – 1 day to home!

My last shift was – and at the same time, was not – very interesting.

Just after lunch, we got called to an impromptu meeting to let us know that there would be a number of arrests that afternoon by the PNG Police following investigations into the Christmas eve riots. We were told to act as normal, but to distance ourselves from what was going on. The situation could have got out of hand very quickly, particularly if some decided not to go. P said he saw G4S staff getting into riot gear, just in case. Thankfully, apart from a crowd watching what was ahppening, it all went quietly. I didn’t even notice when they left.

The tough thing is that most of the guys I had made connections with were the ones taken. If they are charged, it could put their claims for asylum in jeopardy.

After shift, I went into the families to say goodbye. There were some very touching moments from people saying they would miss me, and one family writing their names down and asking if I would pray for them.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find W and V. I really wanted to say goodbye to them in particular. They probably had the biggest impact on my time there, and I will be sad to leave them here.

I am sad to leave, as there is so much work that can be done here. But I am convinced that the right people are here, working as hard as they can with the resources they have to make this situation tolerable for the community members.

Mentally – Good, looking forward to being 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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