Frank Hanrahan: Frank Hanrahan’s CommUNITY News no. 1

Ben, Frank and John in Madang
I thought it’s about time I wrote. Emails are not the answer for me as I am away all week and have to get Sister or Brother to open the office at weekends and the computer is just as slow at moving as my typing so I’ve given it a miss. I’ve switched to faxes for Bungaree parish and letters for everyone else.

Work is going alright, but we are still on our fourth job after about seven weeks – everything takes twice as long. This is partly due to the lack of good equipment – I’ve discovered it’s no good asking for tools so I just go ahead and buy urgently needed ones, e.g. an electric drill we had to have. I’m not going to do without an electric planer for much longer either. We are also following up some shoddy work, some bathroom floor which we had to completely re-do. Another building was the opposite – they over-did the heavy timber. A very well-built house but the white ants started eating all the masonite linings.

Ben, the 31-year-old local working with me, is going pretty well. We work on separate jobs (in the same building) a lot of the time. It’s a fine line sometimes between giving him advice without being critical.

Everything takes about twice as long. This is partly due to a lack of good equipment.

A coming of age ceremony at Siar, Madang
I think our next job might be further up the coast – so far we have been on three different jobs in Alexishafen, 22km north of here. It’s been good conditions with a nice bedroom and en-suite and good meals supplied a few metres away in the retired priests’ home. We mightn’t have all these comforts everywhere. I am in Madang tonight as today was a holiday for Remembrance Day. I climbed a small mountain and visited a cave up on the mountain – about 20 km. South of Madang.

Archbishop Kurtz is home tomorrow from the World Youth Days. The Parish Priest from here and two girls from the Diocesan Office also attended, along with another fifty from Madang Archdiocese and a total of about a thousand from PNG. There was a full coverage on SBS and another channel on TV on Sunday.

I have been doing fairly regular walking since arriving here – I wouldn’t tackle bike-riding on these roads though.

Back in August my assistant Ben and myself completed a job in Bosman which involved a 240 kilometre trip on the Toyota Ute, a boat trip in the mighty Ramu River then a 20 minute trip up the Bur River to Bosman Village. There are no roads, cars or electricity.

Ben and I completed a job in Bosman… There are no roads, cars or electricity.

In Wewak, carrying intricately carved poles for the church
We worked for a couple of days replacing fly-wire on Fr Andreas’ house, then measured up for all our materials, returned to Madang, bought and loaded up materials needed and returned to Bosman. The fly-wire was a big part of the job, but we also replaced damaged sheets of masonite, made up and fitted new facia and guttering and downpipes into the very small tank which was nearly empty due to the recent dry weather. We also repaired two church doors.

Bosman is about 300 kilometres north-west of Madang and only about 50 kilometres in from the coast. Our most recent job was at Malaha which is 150 kilometres north-west, right on the coast, where we did some maintenance on an old convent to get it ready for occasional visits by nuns who will be working with the local people.

Signing off for now,
Frank Hanrahan

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The ideal of a single civilization for everyone, implicit in the cult of progress
and technique, impoverishes and mutilates us. - Octavio Paz