Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 6

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.

11 February 2013

I’m really loving it in families. This morning, I filled in where needed, including in the canteen, then in the last 15 minutes helped pull rocks from an area to create a new volleyball court, as the old one was being lost to make a new mess hall. It was mindless work, but I loved it, as the community members pitched in as well, which was fantastic. Instead of getting upset about the loss of their volleyball court, they saw a solution, and worked at getting it ready.

In the afternoon, after shadowing a care worker, I sat and played Monopoly for three hours, with a group of Tamils. I twas the fastest paced Monopoly game I’d ever seen, and I often had trouble keeping up.

Tomorrow, I need to track down X. He’s an Iranian who was fleeing because he played Heavy Metal, and he’s written a poem in Farsi that he wants to turn into a song in English. It will be tricky, but I’d love to spend some time working on it with him.

Annabelle is sick, and will have to stay home all week. Thankfully, Liesl can still finish the unit by finishing the assignments, and will have the remaining sessions recorded so she can still get the info. Mental state – good.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 5

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.

10 February 2013. Today was a good day. I started off the canteen, and spent the morning in there. Nice and cool, and out of the sun, however it gives me little opportunity to interact with the community members. I think if I am in there again, I will try and use their names as much as I can, and try and engage them when tehy are not busy.

In the afternoon, I was again in the canteen, but I had some time off afterwards to “loiter with intent.” It’s something I am getting better at, though I still feel slightly uncomfortable. I might need to start asking more questions, instead of just answering and answer more fully – look for opportunities to share my story.

Tonight, P [The Salvation Army program director] ran into me outside using the internet, and asked me to share in a service with the Persian Christians by playing Guitar. It was a great time, to worship freely with these people, who were persecuted for doing to in Iran.

Mood – Good, but sad that Annabelle is sick with conjunctivitis, and that it will affect Liesl’s intensive.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 4

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.

9 February 2013. First shift today. Working in Families from 9am – 7pm. However, I was first thrown into the intake of SAMs (Single Adult Males), where I was collecting their shoes to be cleaned, then returned. They were afraid that this new lot would be angry, however, it doesn’t seem like they have caused any commotion yet.

When I got to the Families, I was able to sit and chat with a couple of families, first a Sri Lankan family, then an Iranian. They were both wonderful, but the Iranians really tried to make me feel welcome. They even tried to teach me some Farsi, but all I remember is “Biya” – come.

In the afternoon, I helped out in the canteen, then the Internet room. Nice and chilled, nice and relaxed. [The canteen and Internet room were the two areas inside the camp that I could access that were air conditioned. The education room was also air conditioned, but I didn’t have need to go in there]

In the evening, I got to Facetime Liesl and Annabelle. It was so good to see their faces and to see that Annabelle still recognised me [She was six months at the time – this was a real concern of mine when leaving for a month. Also, that I’d miss her first steps]. I really do hope that she will walk/run to me when I first see her.

Mood – Good. I’m feeling settled both in the camp, and in my work.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 3

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.
8 February 2013. RDO Today. Had a lazy morning, before waiting to head into town. Bus was supposed ot leave at 11 – didn’t end up going until 12.

Lorengau Market Place (Credit: Kings Note)
Lorengau Market Place (Credit: Kings Note)

Lorengau is tiny. It is focused around its market, and there are a number of supermarket type shops that sell mostly the same products. What struck me most was the items available for single purchase that we wouldn’t expect in Australia, such as a single roll of toilet paper, or a single nappie. Looking back, I’m also suprised how little fresh fruit I saw. There was some at the markets – mostly coconut, but little in the supermarkets.
This afternoon, I rested, I watched a couple of Star Trek episodes, played Subway Surfers, and read my book.

I have my first shift tomorrow – 9am to 7pm, with the Families. I’m apprehensive about what I’ll see, but excited to finally get into ministry.

Mood – Great. Moving in with N and S (Session mates from College) really helped, and I’ve been having good contact with Liesl.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 2

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.

7 February 2013. Flew from Cairns to Port Moresby, then on to Manus Island. Travelled to the compound.

Coming in, I was quite amazed. The old army base is completely overgrown and rusted, however the design of buildings hasn’t changed much. The main buildings are still half-cylinders, and our accommodation is shipping containers.

We had induction today, basically getting to know the campsite and the work. We go on roster from tomorrow, and I have an RDO.

I need to find ways to keep myself busy. I found that when I kept to myself, and in my own thoughts, I would focus on how much I was missing Liesl and Annabelle. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get into my room because I don’t have a key, and my roommates have got into the habit of locking the door. That compounded things because I didn’t have a link home. As soon as I could get in and send a message home, I was ok.

Learning to live with a couple of other guys, on different shifts, will be tough, but I’m sure it will be ok.

Mentally – ok. Missing Liesl and Annabelle. Happy my communication channels aren’t as bad as first thought.

Manus Island 2013 – my experiences, pt 1

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.

leaving-for-manus6 February 2013. Left today. Flight to Carins, where we’ll stay over night, before an early flight to Port Moresby. When we got to the airport (in Melbourne), we read that there had been a Tsunami alert for PNG after an earthquake in the Solomon Islands. Thankfully cancelled by the time we got off the flight.

God a short call to Liesl in before bed. Annabelle came looking for me after childcare. She was sad I wasn’t there. But she did enjoy the video of me reading her story.

She was also playing Peekaboo with Granny via Facetime.

I’m going to miss so much this month, but I’m going to do so much as well.

Mentally – I’m ok, miss Liesl and Annabelle a bit. Will be tougher when I can’t contact them as readily.