Papua New Guinea on my mind

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been on my mind for a few reasons lately.

First, I read a book set in PNG: Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain. The book reminded me of the fortnight a friend and I spent travelling around PNG in the 1980s. It was my first experience of travelling outside Australia, and my first time in an under-developed country.

I was enthralled by the tropical fruit (pink bananas!) the freshness of the air, the translucent coastal waters and the primeval majesty of the mountains. I was fascinated by the diversity of cultures as we travelled from the coast to the highlands — including a SingSIng and pig exchange where people were lavishly decorated and costumed. I was also perturbed by the high fences around expat compounds in Port Moresby, and the poverty of many of the local people.

Modjeska captures both the beauty and the struggles of PNG. Her book explores the complicated relationships of a group of expats, locals, and their mixed race children, from the hopeful years just before independence in 1975 to several decades later — all in the context of anthropology, colonialism, art and politics. I think it’s worth reading.

The second reason PNG has been on my mind is coffee. PNG is a big coffee producer and so I originally planned to post this during Fair Trade Fortnight, but life got a little too busy, and I didn’t.

The reason I was going to post then brings me to the final, and right now the most important reason I have PNG on my mind: because a friend is crowdfunding for a coffee-growing community in a place called Paiga in PNG.

He’s been part of a group that’s raised money for a clinic providing maternal health care, which is vitally important in a country where 6.5% of all babies will die before the age of 2 years. What an appalling statistic. Now he’s seeking support to build housing for a new worker.

It’s a Pozible campaign so if the pledge target isn’t met, they won’t get the money. They need $5,000 and last time I looked, were only just over $1,000 from reaching the target. Please support it.

The campaign offers gifts for donations over $50. Here’s my virtual gift to encourage you to donate — some PNG music, because it’s Monday.

The campaign ends tomorrow, 30 June, so get in fast.





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