Friday, December 30, 2011

Living at Teop Island

Sorry it’s been a while between blog posts. I hope you had a good Christmas and wish you all the best for the new year.

We lived at Teop Island for four weeks and we were comfortable there – after our toilet was finished. The first week without a toilet was a challenge! They did build us a very nice toilet though. Here it is:

We stayed in a lovely couple’s house. They are Christians whose faith and love for the Lord is very evident in their speech and actions. Here are some photos of the house:

I did our cooking up on the verandah – I felt a bit like a TV chef on a stage!

This is the back of the house:

The Teop people also built us a nice shower house:

We stood on this concrete inside the shower so that our feet didn’t get muddy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Moving house and back

During our last village stay, we packed up ALL our village possessions and moved them three times! First to move to Teop Island, then to move back to Hiovabon (where we have spent most of our time), then when we left the village, we took everything with us to Buka to store there while we are away for almost a year.

We were in Hiovabon from 28 Sept to 15 Oct, and on the 16th we moved to Teop Island and stayed there for four weeks.

People at the Hiovabon beach watching us leave:

Here’s all our things on the motor boat to go across to the island:

On 16 Nov we moved back to Hiovabon and spent our last two weeks there and went to Buka on 30 Nov. The motor boat wasn’t available on the day we were moving back to Hio, so our cargo went across on canoes. Most of our things went over on two canoes, and Rebekah and I travelled across on a third one. We were a bit concerned that something might fall off a canoe and into the sea, but everything made it across safely!

Below is all our cargo spread out on the bench at Hio. It looks like a lot, but in the photo above where it was heaped together in the motor boat it doesn’t look as much and it’s all the same stuff. This all our village possessions too – pots, plates, food, clothes, gas, etc.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Malaria strikes again!

Just a week before we left the village recently, I got sick with malaria. I wanted to go and cut open coconuts on the day that I came down with it, so I was naughty and tried to hide the fact that I wasn’t well, but it seems that most of my village family could tell and knew before I said anything!

I started treatment on the first day, but it was a really strong bout of malaria this time, and I continued to feel ill on and off for about a week, although not as bad as the first day.

This is me lying on my makeshift bed in our eating house on the third day. I woke up feeling quite bad – weak and dry-retching, but I was feeling a bit better by the time this photo was taken.

Back on the first day of the malaria, I was really ill. Previously when I’ve had malaria, it’s gradually gotten worse, but this time it started really strong. I was weak, although I was also thrashing about a lot, and at night I vomited twice. I had a high temperature during the day and my village family put cool wet towels on me to cool me down. They were very concerned about me, and it was nice to see their care, although I’m sorry to have caused them that stress too!

Even a week later, I was still having moments of weakness and dry-retching when I didn’t feel too good. The last day of feeling ill was the Thursday, and I travelled to Australia on the Friday and didn’t have any of the ill feeling that day, so that was good. I’ve been fine since then, so I’m all better now.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bumpy 4WD roads

Four-wheel-driving isn’t a hobby in PNG, it’s an unavoidable part of life! There aren’t a lot of sealed or graded roads, so many roads are constantly deteriorating. When it rains and the roads become muddy, it’s even worse!

Here’s one road that we travelled up in the back of a ute on a rainy day. I took this photo when we actually got bogged. Another 4WD had to tow us out.

If you go 4WD-ing, you would know that your body bumps around all over the place as the car goes up and down ditches. Sitting on a padded seat with your seatbelt on helps to restrain you a bit though. Now, imagine what it’s like in the back of a ute, sitting on a wooden plank, with no seatbelt, and metal bars not far above your head. Quite a different experience!

I focus on two things – 1. Holding on tightly. 2. Bending over to keep my head low so that it doesn’t hit the metal bars – I have hit my head a couple of times with sudden jerks in these cars; being tall doesn’t help!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Walking to the island

Yes, WALKING!! If you can’t get hold of a canoe, at low tide you can walk to Teop Island (or to the mainland if you’re at Teop). It’s not very far; it takes about 15-20 minutes, and you have to walk slower than you normally would because you’re walking through water some of the time, although it’s only about ankle depth.

You can’t walk to the island from the place that this photo was taken, but it shows a lot of exposed reef.

This photo is taken from the point where we usually cross over. You can see how there is exposed land and shallow water all the way.

This is the low tide view from Teop Island looking towards where the photo directly above was taken.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fishing for iobo

I wrote about ‘iobo’ before (10 August) focusing on having it as food. Well I have now seen how they get iobo, so let me tell you about that.

At low tide, you go out and look for the type of grass that iobo lives under. Then you shove your special stick into the sand there and wiggle it back and forth.

Next you put your hand down the hole that the stick has made.

And you bring your hand back up with the iobo that you found

Then you should gut it straightaway, by pushing a stick through it.

This is a iobo that hasn’t been gutted yet.

Here is a pot with the day’s iobo harvest, and other seafood (not cooked yet)

Lastly you need to pound it so that it will be soft and easy to eat. I think if you don’t do this, it will be really chewy like bad calamari.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dragging a car out of the village

This was such a fun event – everyone was in stitches laughing the whole time!

We had a shell of a car which had been an eyesore in the village for years, and the community decided that it was time to beautify the village and thus we needed to get rid of the old car.

Here’s what it looked like when I first visited in August 2009.

First they had to turn the car upside down and attach ropes to it for pulling.

Then they dragged it from the village out to the road.

After that we dragged it along the road for a while (you can see me in my pink hat in these next two photos).

Next they took it a little way into the bush (not very far from the road).

It was turned over again and positioned in its final resting place. It is next to an area where some copra work gets done, so now they put their bags of dried copra inside the car to hide it from the rain.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Making copra

Copra is the main source of money for people who aren’t employed in formal work, so there’s always someone working on making copra. We have got involved in various stages of the copra making process. This is a simplified list of the stages in making copra:

1. Gather coconuts – 500 coconuts makes 1 bag of copra.
2. Husk the coconuts.
3. Crack the coconuts open.
4. Throw the coconuts up to the drying rack.
5. Arrange the coconuts properly on the drying rack.
6. Light a fire under the coconuts every day until the flesh has dried.
7. Take the dried flesh (ie the copra) out of the shell.
8. Pound the copra into smaller pieces inside the bag for selling copra.
9. Sell the copra.
10. Buy what you want with the money you got.

In between some of these stages, the coconuts/copra need to be moved to different places (eg to the drying rack, to the place for pounding the copra) and the women do this by carrying it on their backs. Here’s a photo of me with a small, but heavy (for me) load of copra. It’s probably about a quarter of the size of what the local women carry.

This photo is a close up of how we remove the copra from the shell (step 7 above):

This is me getting the copra out of the shell:

Here is our copra drying house. I am going down our not-very-sturdy log ‘ladder’.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back to school!

One day we visited the elementary school at Kekesu to see what happens there, as elementary school, which is the first three years of school, is taught in the local language. We spent some time at each of the three classes watching. These are some photos from that visit.

Elementary prep (E-Prep) students writing in their books:

E-Prep classroom wall:

E-1 students doing an exercise in their books:

E-2 students doing some work:

Food chain poster in the E-2 classroom. It shows that crocodiles eat people, people eat cats, cats eat rats, and rats eat sweet potato (kaukau).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Advisor checking

This is a photo of our advisor checking session in August. Rebekah and I have our computers on to look at resources on the computer and the Teop translation is edited on the small netbook computer at the window.

We wanted to return the village as soon as possible, so we were working very full-on, including evenings and weekends, so that we could get though the chapters and go back to the village.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

“Drop” fundraising

One of the ways of doing fundraising in our area is to have a meal, called a “Drop”, where people who wish to eat the meal pay a specified amount of money for a plate of food, and “drop” the money into a bowl. Obviously there also needs to be people who cook the food too, and that’s usually the people who are involved in the group who are raising the money, but others who just want to buy a plate may also bring some food.

The Teop Translation Committee did a Drop for their first fundraiser. The food is laid out on the table and the ladies dish it up onto plates, which are then given to those who are buying a plate.

This was my plate of food at the recent Drop for the translation committee.

I had been to a Drop previously also to raise money to help an aunty who was in Port Moresby for medical treatment. Below is the plate I had then, and here is a description of what is on it, clockwise from top left: taro, fried flour cake, fish, rice, iobo with greens, banana cassava slice, fried cooking banana.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Village checking

In village checking, we get together with Teop speakers in the village and read through the translation to check that it makes sense and see if they have any suggestions for changes. The photos here show what village checking looks like.

Good discussions:

The changes were getting directly inputted into the solar-powered netbook as we did the village check.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

UC synod and food

The United Church in Bougainville held its Synod meeting at Kekesu which is in the Teop area. The UC congregations in the Teop Circuit had a big job of bringing the facilities at Kekesu up to a better standard. The church building got a new coat of paint, and the eating hall was transformed.

This is the inside of the church building, painted in light blue, which is the official colour of the Teop Circuit. It’s also beautifully decorated with brightly coloured cloths draped over the walls. There were flowers too, but you can’t see them in this photo.

This is the eating hall. It probably doesn’t look very impressive to you, but it is very different from what it used to look like. It was totally open at this front end, no wooden half-wall and no door. There are fly screens all around the walls now too.

The communities in the Teop Circuit were rostered to provide food for the people attending the Synod and they provided the best that they could. The day that we visited, there was pork and chicken at our table, among other things. The food was also very well presented with flowers and leaves decorating it. I haven’t been to any other even in the Teop area where the food was as fancy as this.

These two photos are of some of the food that our village prepared for the evening meal that they were scheduled to cook.

Big fish:

Big fish again and other decorated fish: