Thursday, 22 January 2015


Did I write that 4 years ago??

Moresby life: the brutal struggle 

for survival


  1. Malum Nalu: Moresby life: brutal struggle for survival html
    2010 - BRUCE COPELAND. AIDS Holistics promoted Positive Living 
FOR MANY YEARS, the organisation AIDS Holistics promoted 
a message of Positive Living. We emphasise the importance of 
nutrition with daily fruit and vegetables. The staple diet in this 
country is scones made from white flour.

Positive Living is a sick joke for many people in PNG. They simply
cannot afford to eat properly.

We read a recent newspaper advertisement for senior positions in the 
Department of Foreign Affairs. A director receives K32, 000 a year, 
a net K95 a day without tax taken out. Take school fees and children’s 
lunches and that drops to K50. 

Take out rent and there is no money for food. And this is the salary of 
a senior officer. Rents in Port Moresby are out of reach of middle 
to top ranking workers.

So the family may have to live in a squatter settlement. They have to 
dig a garden. There is no way a director in Foreign Affairs could live 
in a rental house and have his family eat adequately on one wage.

A schoolteacher may earn K540 a fortnight, well under the Australian 
poverty line. A junior teacher will earn much less. This provides K17 
a day, enough for a meal of rice and tinned fish once a day and no money 
for school fees and lunches. It may buy a bag of flour twice a week.

A security officer may live on K150 a fortnight which is K11 a day, 
provided the family lives in a squatter settlement. No money for 
school fees and lunches. One meal a day. In off-pay week, the family 
may not eat for some days. The family will do worse if the man spends 
some money on beer.

Corruption in this country is about survival. Families steal to eat. Families 
become desperate when they find traditional land stolen by fake landowner 
groups. Any chance of a decent future life fades. The desperation intensifies 
if there are no jobs.

Yet it makes the mind boggle to stand at the side of the road and watch so 
many people driving the latest land cruiser vehicles worth upwards of 
K100, 000. How do they pay?

Social injustice is a way of life in this country. We find PNGDF retrenched 
officers getting no money. Retired correction officers have pensions stopped. 
They end their days with nothing after a lifetime of loyal service.

Then in the national HIV/AIDS response, we find AusAID and other advisors 
earning upwards of K500, 000 with house and car. And Papua New Guinean 
AIDS workers are mainly volunteers. Social injustice sponsored by Australia.

What would I do if my family were starving and someone left money within 
reach?I may well steal to stop my children from crying. And I dig a garden 
where I can.

There is no value in being honest and having children starving. I have to risk 
ending up in gaol. The English lower classes ended up as convicts in Australia 
for the same crimes 300 years ago.

To hell with do-gooders crying about corruption. How can we blame mothers 
for selling their bodies? What of mothers having their roadside goods scattered
and stolen by police?

I have seen police taking bags and stuffing money into their pockets as they 
return to their vehicle eating the betel nut they have confiscated. Their families 
may eat well tonight.

National Capital rangers think they have the right to hit people with iron bars. 
They roam the streets looking for people to bash while stealing their goods. 
Onlookers scurry in the dirt to pick up scattered betel nut.

I stood in the middle of a bashing pretending to be a simple old white man, 
And all violence stopped. The gang leader apologised that I had to witness 
such an event. Then he took his men around the corner to do the same again.

I stood beside a policeman while he bashed an old man at the market. He 
stopped. One day I will end up in the cells being bashed. But police take a 
risk bashing a white man. Who knows how it would end up? It would be a
news headline to start with.

What would I do as an unemployed PNG father if my daughter was bringing 
K15 home each day and I knew she was selling her body? I may well do 
nothing. Thank you daughter. Wife, ask our daughter if she is using a condom.

And my son was giving the family K5 some days after buying homebrew 
and marijuana? He must be stealing the money. Thank you, son. Your sisters 
and brothers will not be hungry tonight.

My daughters never have to sell their bodies while I give them money every 
day for basic needs. What if I died tomorrow?

What is the great lie that PNG mothers tell their children? Do not worry about 
me, I am not hungry.

Fruit and vegetables from the market are still the cheapest and most nutritious 
food - kaukau K2, beans K1, carrots 40 toea, kumu 50 toea, with tinned fish 

Gentle reader, this is not the time to switch off and tell yourself that all is 
well. Many families do not have K5.50 to go to the market.

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