Everyday People PNG : Russell Coomer

PART 2 The people in the community that I lived and served in, are very respective and supportive. They look after people they recognize who come to bring services like the volunteers.

 They built a house and a little kitchen for me before I got there. I did not need to look for food because they brought me food from their gardens. Pasin em gutpla tru. They are very caring people who took care of me. Mi no sot lo kaikai.

They wanted to learn many things so they asked me many questions about life in the city. Many of them have not ventured out of the ward and province.

The people are very cooperative and supportive. I voiced the need for a training place. The next day the community showed up, especially young men with bush knives, and asked me what I needed them to do. They built a training shelter that day.

The community now has a resource-learning center. The current Minister for Education and MP for Usino Bundi, Jimmy Uguro presented a K30,000 cheque and that was what enabled the community to build a permanent learning center.

However, not all ideas are welcomed as there is still a bit of skepticism towards certain projects and development. I suggested a mini hydro project that would generate electricity from the river for the village but the elders refused, as this was something entirely new to them.

My time away volunteering in ward 8 of Usino Bundi, helped me save a lot. I did not need to spend much. I was provided food by the community from their own food gardens and realized I was (becoming) healthy from eating (local) food.

In order for me to obtain necessary materials for projects, I would travel to Jiwaka Province. I would walk, sleep a night in the village on the way to the road to get on a PMV to travel to town so I could buy supplies, print training documents, certificates and identification cards (IDs). I would spend a day or two in town, because the post office and the bank are there so I can access these services, run errands and then travel back.

I had to adapt to local life because if I did not, I would not be able to achieve the outcomes that I was there to do.

My 24-months serving as a volunteer is complete and I’m back in Port Moresby. I hope to be sent back to keep working on projects that are ongoing in the community, but I will go where the National Volunteer Service sends me.

Marysilla Kellerton