My Walk to Equality, edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell, Pukpuk Publications, 278 pages. Paperback $US10.53 or Kindle $US1.00. ISBN-10: 1542429242. ISBN-13: 978-1542429245. Available here from Pukpuk Publications. The book will be launched in Port Moresby on 8 March and in Brisbane on 16 March
IN a country that boasts over 800 languages and has a strong tradition of oral history and storytelling, it is unsurprising that My Walk to Equality is thoroughly engaging, entertaining and thought provoking.
That it is written entirely by Papua New Guinean women adds another layer of depth and complexity.
PNG women are an amazing breed; they carry a burden of family and community responsibility that encompasses wage-earning, fruit and vegetable farming, animal husbandry, childcare, aged care and home maintenance.
In remote areas, education and health care are also added to the list. In the villages and for many in the cities who live in settlements, these duties are often performed without access to running water or electricity.
The hopes and fears for their loved ones, the challenges of daily life and their dreams for the future are clearly, yet delicately laid out for us in this book in a way that is both poetic and dramatic.
The violence that PNG women face is not hidden from view; nor is it exaggerated – it is a monster that must be faced every day - and PNG women do this with a steely courage and dogged determination.
Despite the challenges, these women write of pride in their nation but without naivety or saccharine sentimentality. Of all who know and love PNG, it is the daughters of this nation who see it with the clearest eye.
I challenge anyone to read this book and not be deeply and profoundly moved. I think that for many, it will also change the way they perceive this country and its greatest asset – its women.
Before arriving in Papua New Guinea in 2010, Roxanne Martens worked with children with disabilities. During her three-years in PNG, Roxanne worked with the PNG Cancer Foundation, the Port Moresby General Hospital Special Care Nursery and was a founding member of the Safe Motherhood Alliance (SMALL) PNG. Since returning to Australia, Roxanne remains connected to the country she came to love, sponsoring the young writers’ award in the Crocodile Prize, working as mentor with the Kokoda Track Foundation Archer scholarship program and maintaining her links with SMALL PNG