Under the coconut trees

Jaroslav Střasák, a volunteer from the Czech Republic, shares his experience of when he first arrived in the country as well as extends his farewell.

It was 10th February 2020 and I stood at the Jackson’s International Airport, Port Moresby. At long last and after extensive preparation, my mission in Papua New Guinea (PNG) started.

I arrived with my head filled with expectation and my baggage filled with medical supplies and ‘Czech beer’, which is actually also a kind of medicine with a strict dosage. I hoped that I was well prepared for my life and experience in Araimiri, Gulf Province.

My first steps in this beautiful country were like the first steps on the moon. Almost everything was different from my country. Humid and hot weather, many mosquitoes, different food, big spiders, amazing nature, vehicles using the left side of roads in a terrible state and the chewing of buai (betelnut) are but a few examples of the main differences that PNG introduced me to very well. Slowly, step by step, I become accustomed to these differences.

A large amount of my time was spent at the school aid-post at Araimiri, where I helped the nurse with basic health care. Cleaning and dressing sores, treating malaria, kus or cough was our daily routine. We felt great joy for every person who was healed but also felt miserable as sometimes we could not help.  Often, I felt really sorry for people who had to walk for several hours to reach our aid post and we were not able to help them.

Araimiri is a nice place with nice people. Nature and this place provided many experiences and unexpected adventures, which I will never forget for the rest of my life.  Engraved in my memory forever are the experiences with bush knives and my two middle fingers. The first one was cut by nambis rascal, the second one was cut by myself. The good experiences that I have tasted, and relish are the different flavours of PNG.

Today is 3rd of September and I am leaving this beautiful country. Although life in Araimiri was full of adventures, it seems that the biggest adventure has started, as I need to leave behind this beautiful land to return to my home country.

At the end of seven months, I come to the end of my mission in PNG. Thank you very much to all the Salesians who took care of me. Especially thank you to the fathers and brother in Araimiri, for the opportunity of being a part of their community during my stay there. Gratitude to you dear fathers in the provincial house for the great help you have been during the time of my invalidity. Thank you, PNG, and goodbye. I will miss you.

(Sandra Nega and Jaroslav Střasák at the nurse aid post in Araimiri)

Press release