January 18, 2004 - University of Vermont: Greg and I were PC Volunteers on the island of New Ireland on Papua New Guinea

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Papua New Guinea: Peace Corps Papua New Guinea : The Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea: January 18, 2004 - University of Vermont: Greg and I were PC Volunteers on the island of New Ireland on Papua New Guinea

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-35-236.balt.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, January 21, 2004 - 3:29 pm: Edit Post

Greg and I were PC Volunteers on the island of New Ireland on Papua New Guinea

Greg and I were PC Volunteers on the island of New Ireland on Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (commonly called PNG) is part of the British Commonwealth. It received its independence in 1975. New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. The western half of the island is called Iran Jaya (part of Indonesia). The eastern half is called Papua New Guinea ("PNG"). PNG is comprised of newly roadless lowland plains and central highlands. It has rugged highlands with peaks rising to 16,000 feet. There are tropical glaciers, volcanoes, island chains, tropical rain forests, beaches, world class snorkeling and diving, beautiful coral and sea life. Not to mention a plethora of WW2 wreckage. There are over 800 different and distinct languages spoken in a country that is only slightly larger than the state of California. It has 700 varieties of birds (including 38 of the world's 42 bird of paradise species). There are 2,800 types of orchids (that is 16 of those on the planet!). It has the world's largest butterfly- the queen alexandra birdwing with a one foot wingspan! About 75% of the population relies on subsistence farming to survive. The population of PNG is 4.5 million. The life expectance is only in the mid 50's. There are 19 provinces and the national capital district (Port Moresby). The natural resources are: gold, copper ore, natural gas, timber, agriculture (coffee, coconuts, palm oil processing, etc.).

Greg and I were PC Volunteers on the island of New Ireland. We were rural community volunteers. In our small village (Named Bol) we had no electricity, telephones, or toilets. We worked to start a housing project using burnt and damaged timber (there was a huge forest fire in 1997) and local materials to build local homes for families in our small village. We actually ended up working with 7 villages in the area to develop this project. Greg also worked with village leaders to get fresh water into their villages using a gravity feed system (since we had no power and people had to walk miles to get fresh water). We also did work developing new recipes using local foods. The children loved it and it gave us an opportunity to talk about nutrition with the mothers of the area.

In our training we learned to do an "asset assement". This has been something that we are trying to incorporate into our lives. It is a way of looking at a situation. It asks you to looking at the positive in a situation and seeing what you can offer to enhance what is already going well. BE POSITIVE! It is something that we can all remember. There are too many of us that dwell in the negative. So many people in our village literally had the shirt on their back and two pairs of shorts. We knew many families that shared a pair of flip flops between their entire family! We are so lucky to come from the USA and have the opportunities that we have. And more important than all the "stuff" that we have, it is the relationships that are important. You would think that the people of PNG would be depressed not to have electricity, phones, running water, etc.... However, they are some of the happiest people that we know. We are sure that it is because of their strong ties with their family, friends, and other clans. In many ways we can all learn from them to appreciate what you have!

The Peace Corps is America sharing is most precious resource, its people, with the world.

We encourage everyone to take the challenge to expand their world. Join the Peace Corps! It is certainly the toughest job that you will most definitely love.

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Story Source: University of Vermont

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Papua New Guinea



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