Barry and Yvonne: Barry & Yvonne Dunne’s CommUNITY News no. 1

Barry and Yvonne with some garden produce
Hi Everyone at Palms,

Here we are, 2 months down the track and still surviving and the Bougainvilleans seem to be surviving us as well. We have now well and truly started work and this has been an interesting exercise in itself. We have both had great difficulty slowing ourselves down to Pacific Islands pace but we are getting there. As we were warned, relationships are all important and we have been and still are spending a lot of time doing that, sometimes hours and hours in a day when it feels like we are not working but just sitting around. Strangely though, that can be very tiring. We are so used to rushing around getting things done and keeping to time that it can be quite exhausting mentally to not be rushing from one thing to another.

Barry has been working with the Diocesan HIV/Aids Coordinator, helping her to develop a financial recording system (a cash book), a filing system (instead of a pile of papers on a chair), learning to use a computer and do reports. He has been well and truly challenged as although she is a qualified nursing sister, she has had absolutely no training in any sort of administration etc. His patience has reached new depths. He now waits patiently while she feeds her 6 months old baby, or maybe goes to town for some personal reason, or else he wanders back home and thinks about how he will conduct the next day’s session. Always remembering, of course, that whatever he plans has some chance of happening, but maybe not too much.

We have both had great difficulty slowing ourselves down to Pacific islands pace but we are getting there.

Barry has just finished writing a very comprehensive submission to Caritas Australia seeking funding for the Diocese’s HIV/AIDS program. 16 pages of Goals outcomes, outputs, evaluation and monitoring plans/processes, with several pages of tables and timeframes.(won’t happen). I think Caritas are only asking for such a detailed submission because that’s what Ausaid demands if you want their support. This, from fairly uneducated people in a third world country. None of the AIDS team could even use a computer when he arrived. Makes sense, eh?

My work also started slowly at Callan. They are fairly disorganised, partly due to some problems last year and partly because they are fairly disorganised anyway. Again partly due to lack of knowledge in relation to administration and forward planning etc. I have a room where I can treat people. The sole piece of equipment I have is the massage table I brought with me. Luckily, the therapies I use don’t require much else in the way of equipment. But apart from that, I have been treating lots of people with all sorts of injuries or conditions and all ages. A baby awaiting a hole-in-the-heart operation in Pt Moresby in August, a man who was bashed by rifle butts during the crisis, children who cannot walk and a family of five adult siblings all with muscular dystrophy. It is very humbling – they are very grateful for any help in this area that they can get. I have also been to several villages and treated people in all sorts of interesting places, often with an audience of interested onlookers. Not quite the recommended clinic environment in all my training books, but they seem to respond very well to most treatments no matter what the environment is.

So you can imagine, we both have interesting stories to tell each other at night before we crash into bed exhausted. We certainly have no trouble sleeping. We have both lost weight, especially Barry. He finds his shorts and trousers are needing a belt several notches in from where it used to be. The walking and the low fat diet all helps with that and we are both looking and feeling very healthy.

I have treated people in all sorts of interesting places, often with an audience of interested onlookers.

Our Pidgin is coming along slowly (isi isi) and we can say some and understand a lot of what is said as long as they don’t speak too quickly. Most people switch easily from Pidgin to English and back again so it’s not too hard. We can often recognise now when they speak in their tok ples (talk place or village dialect.) There are over 800 dialects in PNG so it’s not uncommon for locals to not understand someone who speaks in their tok ples if they come from a distant area.

Better go and see if the email is working tonight.

Take care all

Barry & Yvonne

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There is both a moral and social responsibility attaching to these experiences of foreign cultures,
and if nothing awakens in our own soul, making claims and demands upon us,
calling us to change the way we live, then we have been merely parasites and invaders. - David Tacey