HERE in Kamusi we have no information: no Post-Courier; no National; no Wantok or Catholic Reporter.
Kamusi is a remote logging camp in Western Province at the boundary with Gulf Province. It’s managed by Wawoi Guavi Timber Co Ltd, a subsidiary of the giant timber company Rimbunan Hijau.
I have been here since August 2013 after spending three years in Boset along the Middle Fly River. We take care of the small Christian communities in 23 villages. We try to assure basic education and health services.
Fr Yohanes Werang, who is in Europe for meetings and is going back to work in Indonesia for some time, often tells me to take up his job of writing news from these remotest corners of the Western Province.
I tell him I don’t know how to do it. He says, “Don’t’ worry! Fr Giorgio will do the editing. He will put an Italian flavour on top of any broken English!”
You know, every news item that is posted makes our simple people so proud! Even our government officials are happy; because nobody talks and writes of the people of Western Province and their hard life. For this simple reason I would like to become a reporter and a journalist!
Last month the Superior General of our Montfort Congregation, Fr Santino Brambilla, came to visit us from Rome. He spent a couple of days in my parish. He was deeply touched by the poverty of our people especially those on the coast of the Gulf Province.
No schools, no medicines, no proper drinking water. Children just grow up without attending even the elementary level, totally illiterate. TB is a common sickness. People don’t realise the reason of their early death, so they blame sorcery.
Fr Santino fell in the mud in Bamio village. We were all scared since he is not that young any more. But we were able to reach Kamusi on the night. We travelled five hours in the dinghy on the Fly River to Panakawa, the site of the RH timber processing plant, and five hours on the muddy and slippery road to the interior.
“Leo, is there any way for us to tell Kiunga or Port Moresby that we are in Kamusi?”, Fr Santino asked before taking rest.
“I am sorry, padre. We are in the middle of the jungle, we have a generator but no network coverage, no newspaper, no television, no internet”.
He shook his head and went to bed. His presence meant a lot to me. He was the first General Superior of the Monfort Congregation to reach the most neglected place in the Western Province.
In Western Province we have huge social issues related to mining and environment, health and education. How can I bring them to the national attention? And what can I do when workers are not properly paid? Please, advise me on reporting and accurate information.
It seems to me that Fr Leo has already been blessed with a talent for reporting and story-telling. We look forward to reading more of his epistles from the Western Province - KJ