Holiday Highlights Part 3

IMG_20151224_210736Mexican train and other games with the family.  Ryan’s mom seemed to win more than anyone else.  She’s got the touch.IMG_20151228_092312-2Another lake walk before the storm.  This was the day that we saw 5 inches of snow and sleet cover Pardeeville.  But that didn’t stop us from going out to have pizza that night.IMG_20151229_090220And the next morning with a covering of winter white.  It missed Christmas but better late than never.shovelsnowHowever snow also requires shoveling and so I helped out wearing these stylish blaze orange coveralls to keep me warm.  This was my first time shoveling snow so both Ryan and his mother were intent on capturing the memory.

My Work Lives On in PNG

One of my goals in PNG was to have everything I did be useful, not just for the Onobasulu but for other language groups as well.  I wanted people who came behind me not just say, that was a nice idea, but to be able to take what I did and use it as is or adapt it for their context.  Last month when I heard about the new PNG language policy one of my main frustrations was that I felt like this invalidated my curriculum work.  I put a lot of time and effort into making the materials great for the Onobasulu and for other language groups as well and I had hoped that the materials would continue to be used and not just pushed aside.  Fortunately, I have been encouraged since then, that they are not being tossed out simply because of the new policy.   A couple weeks ago, I received an email that said that Hauwo, my Onobasulu literacy co-worker, took some of the literacy materials and showed them to someone in the education office and they were impressed with them and wanted to get their hands on similar materials.  There is hope!

And in a recent Catherine Rivard blog post I can see that the literacy courses are still using the Health and Safety Game.  If you enjoyed learning about literacy in Papua New Guinea, Catherine writes in a fun and interesting way about her experiences.  She does a lot of work similar to what I was doing.  This recent post (shown below) talks about village health and includes a picture of my game being used!   This is why I took the time to have it in Tok Pisin and not just Onobasulu.  It’s usable for other language groups as well.  I am so excited that my work continues without me in PNG!   And thanks Catherine for being a part of that.

Smack That Fly!

The fly was larger than her hand, but it didn’t faze the nurse. She slapped the illustrated poster once more and then turned to her audience. “Flies carry disease, polluted water carries disease, and uncontained rubbish and faeces carry disease. This is why your children get diarrhoea.” She paused, looking hard at each of the students. “This is why your children die.”

Students played games to practice making health choices.

Last August, twenty national teachers from eight different languages were seated in the shade, listening intently to the health lecture and furiously scribbling notes. I, along with eight other expat and national staff were leading these teachers in an intense, month-long training to better equip rural teachers in using the local language in education, through topics like principles and practices of literacy, fluency, storywriting, book production, and curriculum and material creation as well as personal development, leadership, and finances. One of my many responsibilities included coordinating the health sessions, and today I had asked a local nurse to present on diarrhoea.

The students hard at work at translating the booklet!

And so, on that afternoon, the students were talking about the causes, prevention, and cure of diarrhoea, the number one killer of children in Papua New Guinea. Later, they clustered into groups as they pored over their notes and strained to translate into their own languages a story which could communicate this vital information to their communities. “Did we get all the meaning?” they asked each other. “Read it again!”

The next evening, as several of the women students gathered on the cool veranda, a young mother from a local hamlet approached them, clutching a crying infant to her chest. As they visited, the students realized that the baby was dehydrated and suffering from pekpek wara (diarrhoea). Without hesitation, the women flew into action, sending for me while advising the mother and offering rehydrating fruit according to their training. But when I arrived to see the infant contently sleeping against his mother, there was nothing I could do but smile. “You’ve done everything right,” I told them. “You now know how to protect your children!”

A Fun Game Called Let’s Kill Spiders

This post is dedicated to Beverly (who should never watch Lord of the Rings before coming out to the village) and her village house (which has many many good hiding places for spiders of all shapes and sizes).

Spiders are just a part of life in the village. No matter how many you kill or how many webs you get rid of, there is always another spider waiting to take up residency. There are nooks and crannies, beams and wires, basically a little spider’s paradise in Walagu Lodge III. Spiders are one of the many reasons that we sleep under mosquito nets. I personally don’t want to wake up with a web fashioned between my foot (or worse my face!) and the wall. I probably don’t sleep still enough for this to happen but hey, anything is possible. I’ll just keep sleeping underneath my mosquito net. Despite the futility of my lethal actions against spiders, I do continue to try to create a spider minimal atmosphere. Writing this makes me want to do another insect spray around the house too. Maybe less spiders will have to loose their lives if they don’t make their little spider homes here in the first place.

Yesterday afternoon there was a little house work going on that I couldn’t be a part of because I would have easily chopped a finger off or done something worse if they had put me in charge of smoothing planks of wood with an axe so instead I walked around the outside of the house and started getting rid of spider webs. I was accompanied by my normal entourage of little girls and when we got to the first spider, they told me simply to use my hand and smash the spider. They assured me that it would not bite. Because my Onobasulu lessons didn’t include the sentence, “That’s disgusting, I don’t want spider guts on my fingers.” I told them simply that I was “sagalife” (afraid) and “habofe” (just didn’t want to). They laughed at me for being afraid and then told me they couldn’t help me because they were too short to reach the spiders. They even jumped up to try and get the spider as if I wouldn’t believe them.

So we compromised. They found me a nice long stick and then I would pick up the spider and deliver the said spider into their waiting hands where they did the squishing for me. As much as the girls assured me the spiders didn’t bite and the girls fearlessly squished each spider I gave them, I couldn’t help but feel a bit squeamish as they killed the black and red ones. I guess they don’t have black widow spiders here and these kids are use to spiders so if they were to be biting ones they certainly wouldn’t kill them with their fingers. Anyway killing spiders turned into quite the game where the girls would locate the spiders around the outside of the house, I would use the stick to pick them up and then the girls would fight over who would get to take the spider from the stick and kill it. We worked our way around the house killing big and small spiders, removing their homes and flinging spider guts into the grass. An interesting choice for afternoon entertainment but nevertheless, entertaining.

I wish I could report that the house is now spider free but that’s just not how it works. Overnight there have probably been webs made in many of those same places but for Beverly’s sake, there are at least a few less spiders in the world.

Playtime with Greg

Greg is growing up.  He’s now walking and saying words and playing games.  He came over today and visited while his mom was at play practice.

Last time I posted pictures of Greg he was just a little baby.  But now he is quite the little man.  He’s my support team’s child and so every once in awhile when they need an impromptu sitter, Greg just comes over and hangs out.

It’s fun to play with a kid who is just fascinated with lights.  We played with balls and toy flowers but his favorite game was putting the airplane on his head.  And when it fell off he would crack up like it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.  He’s at such a fun age.

Greg voted for the “Coolest Car in Ukarumpa” and you should too.  Thank you to those who have already voted but if you haven’t voted see my previous posting to check out the amazing array of vehicles.  Voting ends at midnight tonight (Friday Sep. 30 my time zone which is the same as Guam).