Annette Pocock: Annette Pocock’s CommUNITY News no. 2

Annette and Davison
Well much has happened throughout the year, so I shall just touch on a few things.  First, St Mary’s School of Nursing Day, celebrated each year, was a great day.   It began with a Mass.  The girls have great voices and the hymns are just beautiful, so it’s always a real treat to listen to.  They included the Beatles’ song ‘Let it be’ which was a nice little touch to the service.  The mass was celebrated by Father Neville Dunn, who is an Australian and has been here, in PNG, for most of his ‘priestly’ days and in fact celebrated 50 years in the priesthood last year.   He and Father Frances both teach Christian Education at the School of Nursing.

The day’s festivities began shortly after.  Three teams of 1st, 2nd & 3rd year students were joined by staff.   I was on the 3rd year team, the green team.  We won.  I didn’t contribute to point scoring.   The only event that I was in was ‘Musical Chairs’ and was first out.   But, I was on the winning team none-the-less!   There were about 20 or so events such as, tunnel ball, wheelbarrow races, three-legged races, shooting hoops, hair braiding, water fights and much more.   It was a hot day, as it always is, but didn’t seem to faze the girls too much. Music blared and there was plenty of laughing and dancing going on. The girls not only have great voices but have great rhythm.  Crowds gathered around the outskirts of the grounds to check out the fun. We finished up with a traditional ‘mumu’ feast.  Fire heated stones are placed in the bottom of an underground oven or pit, meat and veges wrapped in banana leaves are placed on top, the pit is sealed with more hot rocks and banana leaves and left to steam.  Plus a range of leafy greens are cooked in coconut milk.   The girls entertained guests later, beginning with a short play, about a student who fell pregnant and the reactions of friends and family toward her.   They then moved onto song and dance performances – both modern and traditional, from ‘hip hop’ to ‘hula’.

The only event that I was in was ‘Musical Chairs’ and was first out.   But, I was on the winning team none-the-less!

A procession in traditional costumes
A couple of dances were held throughout the year also – eagerly anticipated and much enjoyed events.

This year is St Mary’s Golden Jubilee – 50 years of nurse education.   A three day celebration will be held, with ex-students and educators from all over the country and beyond invited to the celebrations.  So, much planning and organising for this event is underway.  The post basic midwifery program was meant to be starting up next year, but may be delayed for a further year.

In regard to teaching, I wrote a little about that in my last update, so won’t say much other than I think I have a slightly better grasp of things for the second year around, but strangely enough I feel as busy as ever, if not moreso.  This year Joanne did manage to head off to Port Moresby to undertake Post Graduate Studies in Acute Nursing.  We also have three new staff members, all ex-students, two recruited from the hospital.  So that takes a little of the pressure off other educators.

There are 3 congregations of sisters at Vunapope.  The sisters are pretty good to me and invite me to celebratory lunches and dinners up at the convents.   Two sisters returned to Australia this year, Sister Bernadette who turned 92 last year and also celebrated 70 yrs of religious profession and Sister Shirley, who returned to Melbourne. Several more returned to Germany. So there were plenty of farewells and celebrations.

The town itself is developing at a steady rate.  Kokopo, became the provincial centre of East New Britain Island, after the volcanic eruption in Rabaul in 1994.  Growth has certainly been visible in the year that I have been here.  With continuous work on buildings, roads, expansion of suburbs, bus shelters, the new market place, lots of trees have been planted & little garden areas around the foreshore and town.

They know Canberra for the Canberra Raiders as much as anything.

Annette Pocock with St Mary's staff
I might just mention also how Papua New Guineans not only love their sport, but are good at it.  They know Canberra for the Canberra Raiders as much as anything.  The ‘Gurias’ are the East New Britain Rugby team and they won the national competition last year and the Pacific region competition, so there was much excitement and celebrating going on around here.

And lastly, I have recently discovered that I live in what was the morgue of the old hospital, but despite a widespread customary belief in the spirit world I have not had any ghostly experiences.

So there we go, until next time!


P.S. The rain here is just glorious and not having to consider water restrictions is a real luxury.  It is also nice to see the occasional bloke, wandering around under a pink umbrella! Not something you see at home.

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