Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May Madness!!

The 2007
PNG National Secretaries Conference
Wanigili Centre - Education Milne Bay Ltd.The notice board at the main entrance
The conference was officially launched by
The honourable Governor Mr. Tim Neville
There were 200 participants there.
The lovely Mea Lou-President of The PNG
Secretaries Association.

My two beautiful Aunties-Lydia and Julie
also attended the conference.
Gretel-multi skilled and always
efficient.Here she awaits guests
to come up for lunch.
Part of the unique Wanigili experience is our
Claypot Cooking. Milne Bayans traditionally
cook in claypots. We like to add a contemporary
touch by cooking chicken or lamb curries in addition to the
usual local vegetables in coconut cream.
A traditional wooden Milne Bay bowl decorates the table.
Lunch time! The ladies certainly enjoyed the food.
Alotau International Hotel's "Jetty" night club
was transformed into a dining room for the ladies'
closing dinner function.
Sandy Givens-well known Australian Public Speaker and
facilitator for The Secretaries Conference.
She was fantastic andtotally inspiring.
Here she's decked out in gifts presented to her by the secretaries.
Later that night while waiting for the
secretaries to finish boogying at The Jetty,
I caught up with Elaine and my cousin Nimrod.
The 2007
National Health Conference
Wanigili Centre,EMB.
Flags from all the different provinces were
displayed at the entrance to Wanigili Centre.
The auditorium,before the arrival of guests.
Wanigili auditorium can accommodate
more than 200 people.
Traditional Milne Bay dancers preparing
to greet guests upon arrival.
Guests after arrival at Wanigili.
At the end of the conference,
the dancers came out. The boys brought the pigs.
and the ladies carried the yams out to be
presented to conference participants.
Poor little piggy wiggy.
Ok, so it's a BIG piggy wiggy!
One of the five pigs presented on the day.
Conference participants listening to speeches
Closing speeches were held on the board walk.
Wanigili Theatre Group performed an item
about lack of medicine and health services
in rural PNG. Maxine relaxing with Wanigili Theatre Group
members-Rose Ila and Andy Tari at the
closing dinner, held at Masurina Lodge.
This has been one extremely busy month for Education Milne Bay. Last week we hosted the National Secretaries Conference for 200 Secretaries from all around PNG. The week prior to that we hosted the National Health Conference, also with over 200 people from all the health centres throughout the country, and this week Friday 1st June, we are hosting a cocktail night to celebrate Alotau Enterprises's 25th Anniversary. We expect up to 300 people.

Am I stressed? Well... not really actually. I think the last 2 weeks have been good practice for all of us here at EMB. I must admit, our staff have been fantastic! They put in a monumental effort with catering and house keeping etc. I was so proud of them! We only have about 20 staff (many of whom have had very little formal training or experience) and with the additional assistance of 10 extra girls, we managed to host two highly successful events. As a result we received so many positive comments from the organisers and guests alike.

200-300 guests is probably the norm for most large estbalishments, however, this is actually the first time EMB has hosted conferences of this magnitude since launching into full operation last year. Previously, I thought 60 guests was a huge event!? It has certainly been a challenging 2 weeks, made all the more so when the toilets decided to get blocked during the Secretaries Conference. Picture 200 secretaries busting to go to the loo at morning tea time and having to line up to use the toilet in the bungalow... one at a time. We even had to ferry some of them to Napatana Lodge to use their toilets! Thank Goodness the problem was rectified before the end of morning tea!

If there's one thing I've learned about Secretaries during the conference, it's don't want to mess with them!Classic case- Saturday afternoon flight to Pom (Port Moresby) was cancelled, the little Milne Bay guy behind the counter just about had his head bitten off by a hoard of very big, scary and disgruntled secretaries who were all desperate to return home to their families and weren't too thrilled about lugging their 10 rainbow bags filled with yams and buai (betelnut) all the way back to their hotels. Happy viewing!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mother's Day at Napatana

One of the traditional Milne Bay features at
the lodge's haus win.
Three Mamas and a bottle of wine spells trouble!
Natalie English,Moi & Evelyn Numa.Crikey! ?
Smile o?
Each table featured a lovely posy.
The blackboard at the foot of the stairs.
I love the flowers in the clam shell.
The view from the bar overlooks a little path
that leads to the sea.
Quaint little touches like this shell chime,
carvings and large clam shells are scattered
throughout the lodge.
Carving with bad hair do!
Jeremiah,Laurie & Bruce entertained us with
"Guitar Girl", one of their own songs.
Habona,a well known face and "local celebrity"
was also present. He was giving Kaure a
friendly hug, but Kaure is obviously not enjoying it!

Gretta Kwasnicka (in pink on the left)-Manager of
Napatana Lodge. If you want to know what's
happening in Milne Bay in terms of tourism,
business etc. she'll fill you in.
The food was scrumptious,loved the steamed fish!
Elaine and Maxine being served by the lovely Bruce
who always takes care of us when we're at Naps!
That's part of the reason why I always enjoy going there,
the staff are great!
An enjoyable afternoon with friends.
Uh oh....Kaure needing to pee pee while
picking a flower for me.
I love the carvings scattered throughout
the gardens.
When filled with flowers and candles in the
evening,these giant clam shells look gorgeous!
Napatana Lodge is built from traditional materials
and has a great bar upstairs and lovely atmosphere!
This is where everyone goes on a Friday night
for Fish n' chips and trivia.They have
the best Fish n Chips in town!
The two stooges! Jeannie & Elaine
doing a bit of " Karim Leg"!
Isn't he just adorable?
Kaure Muala exhausted but still managing a smile.

Belated Mother's Day greetings to you!
I've only been a mother for the past 2 and a half years but I think it's safe to say I've pretty much got the hang of it now (motherhood that is). The first year was crazy,unstable and down right painful both emotionally and physically as I learned to adjust to having a little bub permanently attached to my boobs. I'd put on a tonne of weight, was jobless and had to rely on my son's father for financial support,which did not sit well with me (I'm used to earning my own money) . The fact that he was constantly unfaithful did not help either. As soon as I got the job with EMB and moved to Alotau though, my life changed for the better.

Being a single mum is one big roller coaster ride. I've been through five babysitters over the last 2 years, there were times I had to leave Kaure alone in the bungalow so I could rush to work and attend to guests, sometimes I'd make his bed in the office while I worked,I discovered early on that a lot of people here aren't too fond of highlanders so I had to deal with racist comments from members of my own family,complete strangers and even expatriates when they learned my son's father is from Chimbu. I grew up in the highlands amongst highlanders, my mother was a lecturer at Goroka Teacher's College so we travelled and visited many rural communities within the highlands. I loved growing up there, the people were wonderful to us and the scenery.....amazing. My son is blessed to be from two very different parts of the country and as he gets older I think it's important for him to learn about both sides of his heritage. It saddens me how people can be so ignorant and cruel especially towards a child. Despite all the initial trials of settling into a new environment, we survived.
My beautiful son turns 3 in August, he's the best thing that's ever happened to me.I know I'm being corny but's Mother's Day (well was).When you've had a rotten day,there's nothing like coming home and being bowled over by hugs and kisses from your son.

Anyway, now that I've got that off my chest!! Here are a few tips about being a mum:
1. Get a reliable and good babysitter/housekeeper (reduces your stress levels)
2. If you scream at your child, he/she will scream back at you, so try your best to speak calmly
even if it's through gritted teeth (it takes practise, trust me)
3. Watch as much of "Super Nanny" as possible, the naughty chair...really does work.
4. Before you leave the house, always pack spare diapers/clothing,water,nibbles,toilet paper,
wet wipes..what else......oh and your baby of course!
5. Never ever underestimate your child, they watch your every move and copy every single
thing you do and say (often when you least expect it).
On Mother's Day -Sunday 13 May, Jeannie,Elaine and I decided to treat ourselves to Buffet Lunch at Napatana Lodge which is within walking distance from EMB. As always at Napatana, we had a wonderful time and the food was delicious. The menu featured an assortment of exotic dishes,most notable was the watercress and carrot quiche, green pawpaw salad,steamed fish and dessert was my favourite-lemon and lime tart with ice cream, totally mouthwatering!
Kaure loved the ice cream so much he had 3 bowls full!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Max and friends

Gudi! (pronounced Gooody) When in Milne Bay, that's the standard greeting. While English is widely spoken, most people here are multi-lingual. On the mainland, Tawala is the main language then as you head out to the many,many Islands, there's Dobu (Fergusson Islands), Kiriwina (Trobriand Islands), Suau,Misima,Rossel etc etc.There are said to be more than 50 different languages in Milne Bay.I speak Sariba but not fluently. Because I've spent a lot of my youth outside of the province and country, when I'm home,(Sawasawaga village-Sariba Is.), everyone loves to listen to me attempting to speak Sariba and the minute I make a mistake they crack up and never let me forget it! At the same time though, they appreciate the effort and I must say it's always interesting communicating with my bubus (grand-parents).
My bubu taubada (mum's Dad-Elia Nadile) was a young boy during The Battle of the Coral Sea
when The Allied forces (American and Australian soldiers) set up camp in our village. I recall one particular conversation we had at about 1am when everyone else was fast asleep. Here's how it went:
Bubu(in Sariba): Mekisini (Maxine), before when all the Amelican soldias were here, all the time, I used to hear them say -"Son of a bitch, Son of a bitch,ede tena saha (what does it mean)?"
Me:(trying very hard not to crack up!) Oh Bubui, tenata se wane kedewa natuna", (Bubui, it means child of a dog).......somehow it just didn't sound right and the more I tried to explain the phrase to him, the more I confused him. Of all the things he remembered after all those years!!!
Anyway,I'm supposed to be introducing you to my friends.....

Allow me to introduce you to Jean Callister-The Smartest,toughest,sassiest,craziest,funniest and most unselfish person I know. She's also married with three kids (sorry guys!),business woman, wouldn't think it though as she often passes for a 15 yr old and has the wickedest laugh not to mention sense of humour. Jeannie's part Misima and Manus. She's an amazing woman and mum and if you ever hear a tiny lady with a really loud voice yelling out something to someone on the road as she flys past in her ute.....that's probably her! Here's Elaine, as she's known to us.Her full name is Mercinta-Elaine Maras. Recently employed by EMB to assist with the Distance Education School, she is also sweet,smart and a tonne of fun!.Elaine's background is in Education,she speaks Bahasa fluently amongst other languages and she's Kavieng mix Indonesian and Central. Already she's been mistaken for a Milne Bayan.....which I have trouble understanding as she has legs like Naomi Campbells' and is often likened to Pamela Anderson for some reason (well, a PNG version anyway)....hmmm, most Milne Bayans are very,very short. Perhaps it's because she's picked up Milne Bay English in no time- "So How?", "Det one oledi I did it!"

Elaine's a breath of fresh air in Alotau and has become more like family really. Always positive, she's also well travelled, great to talk to, awesome with kids,a fantastic cook and I love all the wonderful spicy Indonesian sauces and dishes she makes for us.

This is Murray Abel and Delcie Chariton's haus win by the sea. We (Elaine & I) turned up to pick up a couple of sauce pans that I'd left at their house a few months back and ended up enjoying a bottle of red with them well into the afternoon!Murray and Delcie are such a wonderful couple and always so hospitable. I always enjoy their company. Needless to say we left their house and only remembered the pans when we arrived home.

Delcie and Maxine
Sigh, just one more glass..........
and then we'll be on our way home.
Murray and Delcie-always the perfect hosts. Kaure enjoying the back yard