Keravat does it tough as funds not spent
Minister commits to Keravat rejuvenation

It's not all doom and gloom in PNG

Paulus Ripa

As a Papua New Guinean who grew up during the pre independence era and am now a public servant, I have enjoyed reading on this site for the last three weeks. From different sides of the fence we all remember that era with fondness.

As to the themes of PNG failing and imminent revolution, I have mixed feelings. I share the sentiments of Dr Ninkama but feel that all is not gloomy and lost. There are many dedicated people both in government and in the bureaucracy who are trying very hard to make things work. I am optimistic that in time a critical mass of like-minded people will bring about change but it will be slow and it will take several generations.

I trained for several years in Australian hospitals and could have stayed in Oz. I didn’t because the problems in this country have made it challenging to work here and try to find solutions. (Life is boring if there were no problems). My colleagues and I who form the Paediatric Society of PNG are slowly,and with help from many dedicated colleagues in Australia, beginning to observe small but improved outcomes due to some programs instituted with the aim of circumventing the obstacles presented by bad governments and inefficient bureaucrats. An example is the small but definite turnaround in infant mortality rates (in contrast to maternal deaths in childbirth).

At the village level there is also some room for guarded optimism. I go home to the village every year and, whilst services have not been effectively delivered in my area by the government or politicians, the people have slowly realised that they need to help themselves.

In the last two years in my former primary school, my tribesmen raised enough money to build twp double classrooms and twp teachers’ houses without even appealing for help to those of us who are employed. We are now trying to build a library and more teachers’ houses.

The greatest lesson of not having external help is that the villagers now look after these resources with greater care then if they had aid or government help.

Most of the young man are now no longer seen loitering. They are working raising cash crops or engaging in small businesses such as running trade stores and at last count four of them with now sizable coffee plots and assets have gone back to finish high school as adults.

As to the idea of revolution, I am afraid it will not eventuate. If anything, there may be unorganised anarchy and violence but the possibility of organised revolution is now more remote than it ever was. Many young people are angry but that does not mean they have a shared vision and common purpose.

We all have to work hard. The tendency is to blame politicians. But all of us by omission of commission contribute to the state of affairs. The onus is on all Papua New Guineans to engage with politicians and local leaders in a constructive manner.

Accusations and name calling only make leaders obstinate. I have had to swallow my pride and engage certain individuals who may not be totally honest or scrupulous but I believe that the outcomes are more important.

The road ahead will be extremely rocky but it is not the time for Papua New Guineans to run away; the ship is not sinking yet.

As to Australian aid much of it is now tied so that it is not likely to be squandered by politicians but linked directly to aid programs. However such a commit of course frees the PNG govt from funding these programs.

Finally to all of you, thank you for what you did for my people and for educating people like me.


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Colin Huggins

Well said mate.
Just keep in contact with Keith's blog.

Paulus Ripa

I stumbled on to your site a few weeks ago and, whenever I have had the opportunity since, I have peeped in. It is with nostalgia that I read about people who worked and lived in PNG. (I was actually searching for anything on Maria von Trapp and her work in PNG and this site came up on my search).

I remember crying my heart out when my Australian teachers left. It was late 60's and early 70's, so most of us in the village were the first generation to go to school and we were not used to people coming into our lives and disappearing.

Years later I shed tears again when I watched the film 'Out of Africa' because it reminded me of those events in my own early life.

Now, I am not sure about whether my teachers came through ASOPA. We were taught on a Catholic mission called Kuli about 40 kms east of Mt Hagen. Despina Karvouni was a lady of Greek descent who returned in the 70's and taught whilst I was in high school.

Garry West taught me in Grade 5 and 6 (1970 and 1971) and left for another school the following year. I have tried to trace him without success.

If you had any knowledge of these people I would love to know.

I will certainly from time to time contribute something to your columns.


If readers know anything of Garry West or Despina Karvouni, you can email me at the address shown in the 'About' section - KJ

Dr Alan Lawford

I am still working on getting more computers for Kavieng Hospital. I already have four computers and should know soon how many I can get.

Then I would hope to make arrangements for their transport to Kavieng Hospital.

If you can assist Dr Lawford with his need to transport this equipment to Kavieng, could you please contact me through the PNG ATTITUDE email - KJ

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