It's possible that people from developed nations like Australia who work in developing countries like Papua New Guinea are here because it gives them some sense of meaning and significance. Especially those who serve in the public and charity/community service arena.
Their countries seem to have nothing left to offer them in terms of fulfilling, meaningful, make-a-difference jobs, perhaps because they've generally got it all already. And when you have it all it's easy to become disillusioned and bored with life.
Even if they make so much money, it cannot satisfy the need to be appreciated for really making the world a better place. The world in their nations is already as "better" as "better" can be.
You'll have a clue about the famine in gratified lives by seeing the massive charity-industry that goes on in developed nations. A television commercial break is dominated with ads by charity organisations trying to convince people to donate and make a difference.
It seems like they have to do some charity if they are to truly live fulfilled lives. And I have no problems with that.
Maybe calling their world "developed" is not such a good thing. Not mentioning their sets of problems, the term possibly gives them a sense of having "arrived". And there seems nothing left to do except maintain the status quo.
Who was it that said "The only other direction left to take once you've reached the top is down"? So you just have to maintain. And maintaining can get pretty boring.
Unlike us they don't have as many bridges to build or roads to construct. Nor aid posts and health centres. Nor airstrips. Nor water supply or electrify or sanitary needs.
Half the population probably doesn't care what happens in government because their lives are sufficient. They (though not all) only occasionally respond to highly controversial matters. Life is good it seems.
I heard an expatriate say it in front of me, "Being in PNG gives me a sense of significance." I thought, "How sad!" And he was a very successful partner in a business in his home country.
Before he came to PNG he spent some time in another foreign country where he felt a significant "loss of status" because no one knew him and no one seemed to appreciate him.
We all long for a meaningful life. And we pursue it in different ways. Many think to be professionally successful will satisfy them.
I heard of a wealthy man once saying, "If I knew that, even at this place, I'd be this empty, I wouldn't have walked this path."
And here we are trying to reach the rich-and-famous status when everywhere around there's evidence that it's really a very empty place. Perhaps at the top there's nothing there.
Maybe that vacuum in people's hearts is filled somewhat when they come and "serve" in our country. If so then maybe it is countries like PNG that actually save people from developed nations who are sliding into depression because what they do there doesn't really count anymore.
Maybe they carry themselves around with such importance here because back home they're not important. Someone has replaced them. Or they've out-jobbed themselves. Or the trees aren’t bearing fruit anymore. Their governments must send them to countries like ours otherwise they'll have depression at home.
Being in countries like ours is possibly a lifesaver. They might say they like being here because it's a great country. But maybe they're just here because it makes them feel great.
Of course, as I said, not all expatriates are here because of this reason. But those who are seem to fall into two categories.
First those who recognize that reality and will admit it (like my expatriate acquaintance). Secondly, those who don't recognize it and might deny it. They haven't really asked themselves yet why they're here.
Anyway, if that's the reason you're here in PNG, then on behalf of my forever-developing but very meaningful nation: "You're welcome!".
And for us at home. Let's be grateful that we do have a long way to go.