Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 16

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.
21 February 2013. 14 days to home!

Half way point! S and G left today, and C arrived. We now have less days to go than we have been here. While I am very much looking forward to going home, I will miss the people here a lot as well. I am starting to form close relationships with some of them, and it will be hard to say goodbye.

Today, I had a good chat with V and W and with U at the end of the night. I played Monopoly and Volleyball, and looked after the internet room.

I worked on my Greek this morning, and I feel I’m getting more confident with the letters and sounds.

C brought a package for me from Liesl. My running shirt and shorts, a USB of photos and videos, some printed photos that I can take on shift with me, and a painting that Annabelle did. It’s wonderful – I just need to figure out how to display it.

Mentally – good. Missing Liesl and Annabelle a lot, but getting to the halfway point seemed really quick, so I’m sure I’ll be heading home soon.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 15

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.
20 February 2013. 15 Days to home.

Day off today. Started off with a bit of a walk with S and N around Lombrum. There’s some wonderful scenery around here, and the old army base provides some interesting photos. I didn’t get everywhere I wanted, but I will have more days off to explore further.

This afternoon was spent reading and watching Star Trek. I also had a chat with G about NT Greek. I realised that I really needed to have been doing more while here, as I’ve missed my opportunity to have G help me. As such, I’m on my own now, so I’ll be spending an hour a day to try and get my head around it.

Talked with Liesl tonight on Facebook. She’s doing well – didn’t hear about Annabelle. It’s tough over Facebook, especially with such little time.

Mentally – great. Feeling refreshed after a day off. Night shift for the next two days, then I get to Facetime Liesl and Annabelle.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 14

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.
19 February 2013. 16 days to home.

Day shift today. Spent the day in the canteen. Out of the list that I thought would happen, today certainly wasn’t on that list. I got abused over a toy car by a mum.

It was a continuation of the toy cars from yesterday, and the kids wanted to buy the extras. Once we had tracked down all the names on the list, we started selling the cars. They went super quick. One mum was angry that I had told her to come tomorrow, then sold the cars today, so there wasn’t any for her. There wasn’t really anything that I could do, but it still shot my adrenaline levels up high. Once canteen was over, I removed myself for about fifty minutes, so that I could calm down and finish the shift. The rest of the shift went well.

I’ve been reading God’s politics and it’s a really great book. While it focuses on US politics, I think it has a lot to say about Australian politics, especially in an election year.

Mentally – a bit tired from today, but glad to have been able to chat to Liesl. A day off tomorrow will be most appreciated.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 13

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.
18 February 2013.

Day shift today. Started off hanging with some of the Tamils. One guy, Y, I’ve been seeing a bit. He’s always very friendly, and keen to know what I’ve been up to. While we were sitting down, I noticed that he was rocking forwards and backwards. I talked to J [the psychologist provided for the staff to use if needed] about it, and he said it could be a number of things, and it’s worth following up. I didn’t get a chance today, but certainly will tomorrow.

Spent this afternoon in the canteed, and it was hectic. We had toys for the kids to buy [they get points from things such as going to school, and can use them in the canteen], and they didn’t care about anything else. Once it was all over, I realised that I needed to take myself out for a bit. I went and got a coffee, cleared my head, then went back in.

It was in this break that I realised that I was an Introvert in an extrovert society. All around the base, you can’t get away from people. You’re working amongst lots of people, eating with lots of people, you’re even sharing your bedroom with other people. I need to be aware of my energy levels, and make sure I allow myself time to recharge.

Mentally – Ok. Missing Liesl and Annabelle, and will refresh myself tonight with a couple of Star Trek Episodes.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 12

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.
17 February 2013.

My day off today. Started with church, which was quite an experience. The people are so full of joy! When they sang, one person would start them off, then everyone would break into these incredible harmonies. It was a real joy to be amongst that.

I Facetimed Liesl, which was great – always good to see her and Ananbelle. Annabelle bumped her head at church this morning, and it came up with a bad bruise quickly. She was doing OK when I saw her, but I’m sure it hurt real bad. They had a play date with Daisy (daughter of famous neighbour) today, which went well.

Tonight, we had church with the Tamils and Persians. It was wonderful to share with them, particularly as I preached the message, getting them to focus on what they do have – Jesus Christ – and how they can give that to those around them.

Something that really struck me from both this and last week is their prayer points. They often are large and selfless – praying for peace in the whole world, as opposed to just themselves. They do focus on their own situation as well, but the need of the world are not lost on them either.

Mentally – great. A fantastic, renewing day.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 11

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.
16 February 2013.

Quiet day today. I spent most of it in the internet room. While it can be very stressful at change over time, for the most part it is pretty cruisy, so I don’t mind it too much.

I also played some volleyball today. Turns out I’m a pretty good server, and I’m forming some good bonds with the Tamil guys because of this and monopoly. I need to be careful that I don’t restrict myself to these groups – there are still some people that I haven’t really talked with. Over my next few shifts, I should look to sit in the breeze ways a bit more.

Mentally, I’m doing pretty well. I have a day off tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to relaxing, going to church, and then getting back on the day shifts. Also, facetiming Liesl and Annabelle – always a highlight, any day that it happens.

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.

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.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 8

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.

13 February 2013

Last day on day shift before a day off tomorrow. It’s been a long five days, but from here, it’s two days on, one day off.

The morning again was quiet, and I helped out in the Canteen. In the afternoon, I started playing monopoly, before being pulled away to run the Internet room.

The internet room is easy, except for the 10 minutes of change over. When the times change to include a 15 minute break between sessions, that will be better.

Towards the end of the shift, I had a really good chat with one of the Tamil guys, where we discussed the differences between the Australian and Sri Lankan education systems.

I sat with P and R [Salvation Army Program directors] over diner, and got an insight into their roles. It would be interesting to be able to shadow them for a day. I think that would be quite a learning experience.

Mental state – Great. I’ve been looking forward to my day off, particularly facetiming Liesl and Annabelle. I should be nice and relaxed by the end of it.

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.