Marlene Rasmussen: Marlene Rasmussen’s CommUNITY News no. 1

My first 6 months in Kiribati has almost come to an end. I have decided to spend Christmas with my family, in Australia and then travel to Oman. I am very excited. I have been very happy in Kiribati and I have enjoyed working here. Since writing, I have visited 2 outer Islands.

Well my visit to Abaiang must be the most exciting adventure I have had for years. I really do not know how far it is from Tarawa, when you ask the local I-Kiribati people some say 1hour, some say 4 hours and Theresa’s boat took 8 hours. I guess it depends on the motor!!!! I went on the Kiribati local surveillance boat and we took 4 hours. We then were loaded into small speed boats to shore. When all the passengers were on shore we climbed onto an overcrowded 2 ton truck and travelled to the ordination. Some track— some truck-some distance. The ordination was the best I have ever attended. It was holy prayerful and clear. The singing and dancing added to the local culture.

My visit to Abaiang must be the most exciting adventure I have had for years.

Everything in the very large thatched maneaba was made from the environment. About 3,000 people attended. (Only 3 white people Fr Yelds, Theresa and myself). The altar was tastefully decorated with local weaving and beautiful coconut leaves in floral arrangements. Bunches of bananas hung on each coconut pole in the maneaba.

There were several basins of food, all local produce. They killed pigs and chickens and of course everything that the sea provides, fish, crab, worms, eels, clams, shell fish. In the vegetables they had 3 different dishes of tara roots, breadfruit, pendanius, coconut, eggs and bananas. Very well done for very little expense. The Abaiang lifestyle is primitive. No toilets for 3000 people. The maneaba was on the beach so Kiribati style. They bathed near their small kie kies in the open (slightly covered) drawing water from a well. Yet they were spotless for Mass.

We repeated the same journey for the return trip. I have never seen so much love, kindness and community spirit in one day. Everyone helped each other. I arrived home before midnight to find a local sister had cleaned my flat! The joys of volunteering!

Marlene Rasmussen
Palms Volunteer

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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