|By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 10:28 am: Edit Post|
Bad News from PNG
Bad News from PNG
October 7, 2000
We have some unfortunate news. Due to safety and security concerns the PC-PNG is removing all of its volunteers from the five core Highlands provinces. This means that Lynna and I will have to leave Mt. Sion and Goroka by October 31. The PC will most likely assign us a new site on the coast or an island. They have not yet found us a new site but are looking into several possibilities.
Two weeks ago the Regional Director of the Pacific/Central & South America came to PNG for a visit to assess the situation. He told PC-PNG that they needed to come up with some good justifications for keeping volunteers in the Highlands. When looking at available data of security related incidents, trends in criminal activities (frequency, and types), recent influx of automatic weapons, incidents involving other volunteer and NGO organizations, and number of PC volunteers quitting because of security related incidents, the Country Director and the senior staff made some hard decisions. She decided that instead of waiting for something terrible to happen to a volunteer or staff to pull the volunteers out of the Highlands now before something happens. They have also forbidden traveling on the Highlands Highway for all volunteers.
The Country Director and three senior staff came to Goroka to inform us personally, which was very nice. This also allowed us to discuss our options for the future. They said that if we wanted to we could receive "interrupted service," which means through no fault of our own we were unable to finish our service and we can go home or start a new two-year service in another country. The other option is to stay in PNG and go to a new site in country and still leave as originally planned in April of 2002. This second option is the one that Lynna and I have decided to pursue. We met with our RCD (rural community development) co-ordinator and program officers. We told them that it would be nice to continue working with the deaf, but we really don't want to work with CBR (community based rehabilitation). They wanted to look into placing us in a teachers college teaching special education, but we told them, "no way." We also emphasized that I am a forester and working in conservation would be desirable, and that Lynna would still like to do work with adult literacy and women's groups. So for the next three weeks they are going to be working hard to find us a new site. Areas with potential that were mentioned were the Rabaul area and Kimbe area on New Britain Island, and the Madang area.
So where does this leave the two of us now? We are sad to be leaving Mt. Sion and frustrated because we wondered if this would happen from day one. And now after working hard for six months they are yanking us out. It is a bit demoralizing. I hope that our new site is a good one and that we will be excited and motivated to work on.
Lynna and I agree with the Country Directors decision to pull us out. Just in the past two months three neighbors or ours, all national women, have been robbed at knife point near where we live. It was just a matter of time before something was going to happen, whether to us or another volunteer. In the Goroka area an English volunteer was carjacked and kidnapped by gun men and was quite shaken up. The nature of the crimes has become more brutal-- rapes, beatings, torture, and killings. This is happening to everyone, not just white people. Nationals too are getting hurt.
From now on if you want to send mail to us please send it to the PC office in Port Moresby. No need to stop sending mail. Then when we find out about our new site we will inform you of the new address.
Right now we are safe and being more cautious than ever. Peace Corps has restricted us to using the Mt. Sion car for travel to and from work each day. We are no longer allowed to walk on the road or travel on the PMV into town! The PC car is still here in Goroka and we can also arrange for the PC driver to give us a lift when Mt. Sion can't.
Hey! It is all part of the Adventure!
Ok, we love you all.
Andy & Lynna
Peace Corps PNG
PO Box 1790
Papua New Guinea