A Boy and a Dog

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By Emmanuel Baladi

In the year 1996, in a rainforested nation, in a city where the rain never stopped falling a boy lived with his dog. The city received a lot of rain and was called Lae. But people had taken to calling it different names: the Second, Pothole City, Wopa Land, and the Cement City. How these names came about is a story for another day.

The boy, christened Emmanuel at birth had in turn christened her girl dog Blacky when he came into ownership of the dog.

Emmanuel lived with his parents and two older sisters, Anne Marry and Eve . The family lived in a suburb not far removed from the central business district.

As is the case with some children and their dogs, Emmanuel and Blacky were the of best friends. People loved to see the little boy and his black dog engaged in lively play outside.As in the case with all dogs, Blacky never wanted to part with the boy on school mornings when Emmanuel had to commute to school. It would follow Emmanuel, only to be led back home where Emmaunel’s mum would lock it up until he was out of sight or more correctly, out of scent.

Coming home, the dog will be already waiting for the boy at the gate, tail wagging vigorously, panting, and welcoming him. The boy usually swung the gate open and picked up his black furry pet, kissing, hugging and running his fingers down it’s black silky fur.

Abandoning changing out of his school uniform and discarding his backpack on the grass, the boy would continue playing with his dog until his mom, right as clockwork would call for them to retire. It was an almost daily ritual.

One particularly fateful night, Emmanuel’s mom was serving the family dinner on the floor, as is common in Papua New Guinean families. She was a tad bit tired after a long day of doing chores. Blacky was left to fend for food itself.

Blacky having sniffed aromas of food pushed open the door and went straight to where the boy’s mother was dishing out food, but did not find her plate of food.It was a norm that Blacky’s food was served together with the family dinner. Blacky having lived with the family for a while knew Emmaunel’s favourite plate and so made it her task to sniff up the contents of the plate.Unfortunately, it got scolded and chased out of the house.

Whimpering, the dog sought cover, then decided that it was better to be outdoors. It trotted out the house, out the yard and onto the road.A few yards off there stood a building that housed a sausage factory called Prima. Knowing that she might be lucky in looking for food there she headed for the sausage factory.

At that exact moment, Emmanuel was planted in front of the TV, absorbed in his favourite program.Blacky was out in the dark. A loud sound suddenly broke the stillness of the evening air. Tyres swerved on the road, a roaring car engine! Was it an accident? But amidst the din a canine was whining in pain, it’s cries fading with each passing second, until it stopped.

“Whose dog was that!” Voices came from across the street.

“DOG meat for a dinner!” Cheekier voices cried out.

The cheekiness of the voices died down and lower, subdued voices took over. Everyone recognized the black dog that was only recently so full of life and brought many a smile to a face.

Two teenage boys took it upon themselves to bring the dog to the boy.Emmanuel still did not know what was happening.

His family was sitting out on the patio swapping tales of how their day went. Soon they could make out shapes of the teenagers approaching. As the boys stepped into the pool of light spilling from the verandah, everyone noticed the black furred creature on the arm of the boy closest to the verandah.

Emmanuel’s parents and eldest sister went to have a closer look. Eve the middle kid ran inside calling wildly for Emmanuel.The boy walked out and stood at the veranda and looked down. People were milling around the lifeless body of Blacky. His 1st grade heart broke into a million pieces, and he stood where he was, never taking his eyes off the furred black creature.

Blacky was still breathing, every breath painful.Squatting beside the dog, Emmaunel eventually adapted a cross legged position on the grass and gathered the dog up. Sobbing, he stroked the black fur.”Blacky! Wake up! Wake up!” The boy almost screamed.But the dog had took its last, long, suffering breath just moments before.

A kindly neighbor gave the boy a hug. The boy’s parents and sisters wiped hot tears and tried to comfort him.

The teenaged brothers offered to bury the boys dogs.

The kindly neighbors chipped in money – enough for the boy to buy himself a brand new pet friend.

And on that very night that it died, the dog was buried near a power pole – laid to rest by two teenaged boys. The boy felt heartsick, and his parents excused him from school for an entire week.

He woke up with the memory of the dog who had been his best friend every day.Every year, the boy visits his dog’s grave yard unfailingly.

A Night in the ER

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By Hazel Kutkue

The monitor beeps and the alarm goes off. The alarm goes off when a patient’s heart stops. The alarm is loud. It is 2:42 am.

You are the resident medical officer on the ground. The medical officer has gone off to take a breather and have coffee.What to do?Well it doesn’t happen like it does in the movies. Well maybe it does happen like it does in the movies to some extent. It happens in a more thorough and coordinated manner.

You call for backup. You tell your team member to wheel the crash cart over. What’s a crash cart? It’s a trolley with all the things you need to keep a person alive – a person who’s entire body and all vital systems might be crashing down. In our setting, our crash cart does not have everything.

You must always be at the head of the bed. The first thing you do is check the airway and secure it. Sometimes you might need to put in a tube down the patients throat, all the way past the vocal chord. Other times you just put a short plastic device that keeps the upper part of the airway open – a Guedal’s airway.

Then you check if the patient is breathing. If the patient is struggling to breath, you might need to help with the breathing by bagging him or her.

The heart comes next on your checklist. Is it beating? Is it beating fast enough? Is it beating as hard as it should be? Is the blood reaching the furthest peripheries as it should? If not, you might need to give fluids via a vein. If it has stopped, you might need to start bearing down on the chest – pumping it and maybe throw in a dose or two of adrenalin.

After all this, you might or might not save a crashing patient. Sometimes defeat comes easily. Sometimes victory comes easy. To predict the future is not wise. The human body behaves in ways we cannot fathom. The variables of possible outcomes are endless.

So you’ve accepted the outcomes of the ringing alarm. You are dozing off on a chair. It is 4:03 am. You’ve turned the lights off.

Police officers burst through the doors of the resuscitation room. On a stretcher is a young female in white jeans and a red T-shirt. She’s crying out in pain. Her left leg is deformed and somehow looks very short.The young female had been hit by a car. She’s a sort of a hooker. Just another person trying to make a living. You notice that the A, B, and C are all OK. She is answering your questions and seems to be OK vitally.

You send her for X-rays. You request a Trauma Series. The Xray comes back showing a broken femur. The police officers leave. They have yet to identify the car. They tell you they will look at the CCTV footage.

You call your 2nd in command. The patient needs to be seen by the surgeons. The surgeons are sent for but it seems they are tied up so they do not show.

Now you are very drowsy. You however discover test tubes that you were looking for initially. You start collecting venous blood with a syringe and needle and shoot them into the bottles. You will later cart them to the laboratory for the tech to run tests.

Dawn is breaking. It has been a long night. You can imagine your bed.

But it is not yet 8 a.m so you seek solace writing about your 16 hour shift at the Emergency Department.

Filmmaking and A Girl Who Dares to Dream

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Words by Hazel Kutkue

Pictures Courtesy of Gloria Eino

Now who here has heard of or seen great movies like Jaws, the Lord of the Rings and Avatar? If you have, have you ever thought about what goes into the making of such elaborately created films?

Most of us just love a great movie because it is what it is. We never think about the process of making a great movie – which is backbreaking, tedious and often spans over a great time frame.

Most great films come from a great team of people with very varied skillsets. Directors so to speak, make it happen. However, there are countless other people involved in the production of a great movie.

In a country where very little interest is taken in the arts, we came across an individual who somehow, fell upon an uncommon form of art (for this part of the world) and just managed to find a niche in that landscape.

Her name might not ring a bell now, but we can give it some time. Gloria Eino is a twenty four year old from Goroka who grew up in three different towns across the country – Lae, Goroka and Port Moresby. Why so? Her parents had jobs which caused them to move around a lot. This being said, she had to attend schools in Port Moresby and Goroka. After high school, she got accepted at the PNG University of Natural Resources and Environment to study Tropical Agriculture. After a year studying the basics, Eino decided to take some time off university.
Eino stayed home to ponder on life and everything about it.

Miss Eino showing her infectious smile to the camera

During this lapse from studies, she fell upon filming.

“I found out about a youth rehabilitation program for young people which was initiated by Urban and Rural Development Foundation (URDF). URDF is a NGO which was operating at that time in Morata. I only attended that program to learn intro to music, and definitely not film making,” Eino says.

“In filming we have three divisions, the creative, the visual and the sound division. I thought I was going to learn music right in the beginning. Our instructor instead, started us off with writing scripts.”

“We were told to pitch in ideas and the top five or six stories submitted would get to select team members and work on a short film – working around the story. My story got selected!”

While this in itself sparked interest in Eino to find out more about filming, it is sad to say that the program got cut off short.

“We did not get to complete our training because there was no funding,” Eino says.

However, there is a sunny side of this story. What does Eino do? Pack up, go home and forget about filming? Or maybe take an interest in it?
Obviously, Eino chose the latter.

“Even after we were sent home, I used my notes taken from the training, googled some more notes and taught myself script writing. Since then, I have been writing for a couple of years now. However, to be honest, I don’t see how I can make a living out of it yet.”

Eino’s greatest inspiration is her grandfather.

“He is a great storyteller and I love listening to him. We could talk for hours on end. I was curious about his life. How did he grow up? What was life like for him in the past? His stories of his past are fascinating. His stories are like prompts. I want to conserve our stories in films!” Eino says.

Her father writes, and is another big influence on Eino.

“I guess I got that from him.” Eino says of her father.

Eino took part recently in the Native Girls Competition for Film Makers. Eino was hesitant to participate initially, figuring that as a script writer, it was not for her. There were two auditions that Eino decided to try out for. The WARA film project was a film student’s major project and the other audition was put up by a group of girls who were filming for the Native Girls Competition.

Filming a documentary

“I was filming for the ‘WARA’ audition with the help of a friend and I decided to sign up to compete in NGCF.”

The NGFC is an initiative by the Next of Kin Production under their Six8Eleven subdivision as a challenge for aspiring women film makers and is hosted in Port Moresby.

Eino says that to this date, she has not come across a particularly flamboyant local filmmaker that has captured her imagination. However, she has recently come across an historical figure for PNG women in filming on social media Maggie Wilson who was originally from Western Highlands Province. Wilson’s book A True Child of Papua New Guinea – Memoir of a Life in Two Worlds tells the story of this filmmaker. Wilson was the first film director from Western Highlands and Papua New Guinea. Her work inludes a contemporary drama Stolen Moments which we have to this date only read about and not watched yet. Fransesca Semoso is another women filmmaker that we think Eino should find out more about. Discovering Wilson’s story is a major boost for Eink to reach her filming goals.

Eino has only good things to say about the expatriate filmmakers who saw potential in a film industry in the country.

“I have to give credit to the late Chris Owen, who saw potential in the filming industry in the country. I love what he did with Tinpis Run and other local films.” Eino says.

On the international front, Eino admires a couple of great filmmakers that are, to many Papua New Guineans, just a name of insignificance because all they are focused on is the film in itself. From the likes of Stephen Allan Spielberg, the man behind Jaws and the founder of DreamWorks to Terrence Malick the filmmaker with a B.A in Philosophy from Harvard, Eino cannot get enough of their work.

“Spielberg is a legend!” Eino gushes.

“Meanwhile, Malick has this unique style of directing. His movies speak to you in just motion and music. There’s not much dialogue going on, but you can feel what is going on.”

Malick’s work differs from the other greats, being that he works with themes that show how humans are very insignificant in the grand scheme of things. His films were awarded a variety of awards, mainly with regards to having Cinematography that outshone other films.

“Peter Jackson is another great that I cannot not mention. I love what he did with The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit! If he were to direct one of my scripts…. Bleh, look at me dreaming!” Eino says.

James Cameroon is another great that Eino mentioned and is still in awe about his work in Avatar.

Eino does not forget to mention Michael Fardell, the man behind It Takes a Village the recently released Papua New Guinean drama that points light at the health system of our country.

Trying out her hand at new tech the dji osmo

Eino says that she personally love films that are in her own words should “set one’s imagination on fire.” She thinks that she just loves film, and right now is not swayed to a particular genre of filming as yet. She however currently is leaning towards works that are a mixture of action, fantasy, epic, adventure and maybe even a little Sci-fi.

“All films are art. However, some films just stand out. I want that kind of creativity that guarantees my film to stand out – if it’s not too much to dream.”

Eino has yet to put her name in the credits of a film, but she is definitely working on it.

“I was part of the cast for It Takes a Village and not involved in any other roles. This introduced me to acting.”

Eino is still writing scripts, and it seems this girl is not stopping anytime soon!

Eino sees the NGFC as a golden opportunity that she can use to make her mark. Before the competition, she did not know that there was a good number of aspiring female film makers just like her. NGFC provided her the opportunity to rub shoulders with young women just like her.

“It is just empowering to know that I am not doing this alone, and there are people like me who love this as much as I do.”

“I’d love to see more girls and women in this untapped industry that has so much potential.”

Miss Eino editing a video with her producer for the Native Girls Film Competition

If all goes well, Eino sees herself getting some of her scripts made into films in the near future.
It never hurts to dream, we think!

“Maybe more acting, directing, writing, filming…. Start a film school! You never know!”

Perspectives: Looking Through a Nikon

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By Hazel Kutkue

In this day and age, we are exposed to a lot of amateur, self-taught photographers on social media. Some of these photographers put up work of such amazing creativity and beauty that we are awestruck. Some of these photographers do what they do for a little cash while some do it because they just love it. Others do it because they happen to have a not so average camera. This story is a story of a photographer whose work we found intriguing. Very, intriguing, we must add on.

Rex Kave at work

Rex Kave fell upon his skillset almost accidently. He remembers how when he was in school, his peers always asked him to take their photos because they said he took photographs in a way that brought them alive. He on the other hand enjoyed taking those photos. He loved doing it and still does.

“I love how when I take a picture, each person in that picture will have a way of remembering that moment in a way that is not exactly the same as the next person. Each person experiences that moment in a different way.” Kave says. Kave uses a Nikon d5100 camera to take photographers. This camera was released in 2011 and is used by beginners in photography. Like a lot of people with social media pages with the focus being photography, Kave has never received professional or semi-professional help or advice from anyone. He is teaching himself as he goes along. His brother also does a little bit of photography and has a social media page also which he puts out his work on.

We wondered if Kave ever compares his work to anyone and if he tries to improve his work to match anyone’s work. He does have a national photographer which he looks up to.

“I love Roan Paul’s work. He is one of PNG’s best photographers. He photographs for Cocacola Amatil PNG,” Kave tells us.

Kave hopes to obtain a camera just like Roan’s someday. “I can’t afford one right. Maybe someday I’ll be able to get one. Maybe I’ll go places if I get the camera he has,” Kave says.

“He uses a Nikon D850 and D810 and the lens of both these cameras are just out of the world.”

“I want to be a pro in photography. I really want to be recognized at an international level,” he adds.

The Nikon D850 is a much more recently released camera than the Nikon D810.

“I am a member of this Facebook group called Nikon Users where I post some of my pictures and international photographers make suggestions on how I can improve my technique and be better.”

Kave says that his photography is actually a side gig, and he has a job which helps him pays the bills.

Kave loves to photograph infants and children. He finds the part of prepping his subjects for the shoot fulfilling and very fun.

Kave loves styling his subjects, and this one especially. 📸

He uses the Lightroom App to edit his pictures to make them look good. He does have an eye for making the beauty pop in his pictures using editing apps.

“I usually do not post all the pictures I take on my Facebook page. Just a select few.” Kave says.

His ‘select few’ are actually very eye catching. Well, that is how he happens to happen in this story.

A girl in a pool captured at just the right moment 📸

“I’m like an amateur fashion and potrait sort of photographer,” Kave says of the type of photographer he is.

“I am always buying clothes for people to wear so I will have them dress in it for me to photograph them.”

However, he also has other subjects that he likes to photograph including wildlife.

His Facebook Page Repik has seen growth over time and now currently has over 11,000 plus followers.

We hope he gets to the level of photography he has been working on getting to.

Mr. Neighbor and My Pet Plant

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By Hazel Kutkue

Dated 11th April, 2019

My neighbor moved in a week after I moved in to our block of flats. He is a couple of years older than me. Originally he hails from inland Papua New Guinea – the heart of my beautiful country. My entire country is very beautiful. The only speck of ugliness on the face of my country is my neighbor. He is the red, oversized pimple that popped up on the forehead of my country, begging to have it’s living daylights destroyed. The destruction offcourse would be carried out by me.

At first, my neighbor and I were regular neighbors, but not exactly friends. I did not consider him unworthy of being my neighbor initially. I liked him just fine. I liked him just like how I liked the rest of the good Lord’s creation. I liked him like how a human being liked a grasshopper. I liked him like how I liked mud or a dead tree leaf. I liked him just fine

It was all well until one day I noticed my beautiful potted plant losing it’s glossy green leaves. The potted plant sat outside my door on the veranda. Two or three leaves fell at a time, painting the dark brown soil in the pot. I thought nothing of it. I blamed the event on nature. Maybe it was a rat battle gone wrong that might have done that. I thought I sighted stray rat hair, so that must be it.

The day after the first leaves fell, I noticed two green stalks on the timber decking. Oh well, this might be the result of loud bass from the music box. I had been fake-choreographing moves to Nicki Minaj’s song Super Bass the night before. I was pretty sure my neighbor was out working that night. The bass must have been the cause. Or maybe it was my awkward “Gina” from “Brooklyn 99” dance group moves that did it.

On the third day of the mysterious disappearances of parts of my plant, I suspected fishy business. It was fish infested waters all right. At that point in time, I wished desperately to have somehow been an owner of a robot slash spy pussycat who can watch over my pet plant. I wanted at that point in time to exist in Japan and own a robot pet (apparently it’s a thing).

The mysterious plant damage went on until the day I noticed two surviving plant stalks with a sprinke of leaves. I decided that patience on my part would kill my plant for good. I decided to be impatient.

I waited for the day I would catch the culprit hurting my beloved plant. The nature-murderer. The Jack The Ripper of plants who left a calling card. The calling card being littered plant parts.

By now I was in the religious nightly routine of perching like a weird oversized owl on the kitchen drainboard and peering out the window. My kitchen faced the veranda and I had a good view of my poor plant. I did this faithfully.

It was on a Saturday night when from my owly-sink-branch I saw my neighbor slithering on all fours up to ny plant. It was a moonlit night, and his back was grotesquely mishapened in the moonlight. His beard was dyed snow white (obviously in an apparent act of madness in trying to look like the old man character from Lord of the Rings I presume).

At that point, my hand was going numb from clutching a huge flashlight. I was also getting pins and needles in my gluteus maximus. My black leather kill-the-thief pants were biting into my hips like satan’s fangs.

I was so relieved to see my neighbor, not because of joy, but because I can finally stop being an owl every night I’m not working. In fact, I was so releived I nearly cried.

As my neighbor approached my plant, he extended his loathsome arm towards my plant. I could not take being quiet any longer.

I hoped my voice sounded sensible but I know it was a crazy shriek.

“Freak! Freak! ” I screeched as I fumbled to switch on my flashlight. I directed the beam of light on my neighbor’s face.

My neighbor froze in the light and snorted like a thing I cannot name. He attempted to scamper away like a rodent. He tried to do a reverse creep motion thing, but it was too difficult.

I hopped off my perch and grabbed my plastic chopping board and raced to the door and flung it open. Unfortunately, I slipped on a lone, misplaced sock and fell flat on my bum. I was pretty sure I broke my left hip.

However, I got up in a rage and ran out the door. My neighbor after witnessing my great fall was giggling with a horrified look on his face. I marched up to him and boxed him over his left ear.

Screeching like a dying cockatoo my neighbor got up and scurried away.

My neighbor left my plant alone after that. My plant grew back the next day, and the next day. It remained perfect and untouched.

So basically that was how I saved my plant from my neighbor.

The Emojie Drums

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What caught our eyes were pictures of emojies. Not just emojies though, there’s a twist. The emojies were actually emojie drums in fun colours. We decided to say hi to the team behind an awesome collection of drums – garbage drums to be exact.


We spoke to Howard Bagiro, a team member who was more than happy to tell us about the Emojie Drum Project. Madang Art Maniacs or MAM for short is the team’s name. They’re a group of men who went to art school together back in the day.
“We are old boys from the art school at the University of Papua New Guinea. Our bond is pretty strong,” Howard says.

Now, that says something about university friendships. MAM is a five member group.So how did the team came to work together on this project? Well, Howard was kind enough to inform us about their other art projects around Madang.
“We did a spray paint mural at the Laiwaden Oval. It was for the Maborasa Show. We called ourselves MAM,” Howard tells us.
A MAM member painting a mural using spray paints

But that doesn’t explain how they came to make emojie drums. We had more questions to ask. Have you ever wondered where garbage drums came from? We have.

MAM couldn’t have just went around happening on drums or vise versa. There has to be another player. This player is Pamela Euginio.
“She’s a prominent young woman who does community support work around town,” Howard says of Pamela.
We might just think of writing about her soon. But no, wait, she has to have a say in the Emojie Drum story.

Pamela, is a 33 year old Madang local. She put the drums up on her group’s  facebook page THE MADANG NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH.  So how did she get her hands on the drums?Pamela sheds some light on how.

“We had a cleanathon a while ago. We  asked business houses to donate gloves, bags and drums for the event.  3 companies, BAT, PNG Biodiesel Limited and RD foundation donated 32 drums in total towards the event.”

Now we know the story behind the drums.

We decided to ask Pamela about her other community activities. She was kind enough to share.
“I do work for the Madang Makers Market, which is a campaign towards promoting local products and produce and providing an avenue for local Micro SMEs  to do business. I do pretty much everything and help out anywhere I can help,”Pamela says.


We need more of people like her, we think. Pamela works full time at Sigma Construction Limited as a supervisor and does the community work in her free time. So how does Pamela picture a model community? Well, her answer is what we also had in mind.
“Safe, secure, clean. Safe enough that my kids could play outside and I wouldn’t have to worry. I’d like my children to experience the Madang I grew up in,” Pamela says.
Well, us too.

So what does Pamela aim to get out of the work that she’s putting in? Her response is basically what everyone should be thinking. She’s doing it for the future. We like how she thinks. “As a mother, everything you do is for your children. I’m doing this for my Province and town for my children and for their children.”

As for MAM, team leader, Robert Banasi happened to come across the drums. Long story short, M.A.M was involved, and ready to get their hands dirty, or paint stained, we should say.
“Robert came up with the idea of painting emojies on the drums. It was a sort of contribution as artists back to our town,” Howard says.

So why emojies? We’ve seen garbage cans with pretty mundane pictures of paintings on them, for lack of a better descriptive term. We’ve never seen an emojie garbage can before. Have you?
Well, Howard has an answer for us.
“Emojies on the drums is fun. It attracts people. People can then maybe take better care of the drums and put rubbish where they belong.” Howard says.Well, we cannot agree more.

We can see ourselves going to the drum to dump trash and then taking a selfie with it. Who can say no to emojies?

Three of the Emojie Drums Sitting on a lawn waiting to go to work

So the paint. Who provides it. We were surprised that the paints are also sort of donations.
“The paints are provided by Robert and myself as well as SIGMA Construction Company” Howard states. Now,  if you think that their art ideas and skill wasn’t enough giving back, they are supplying the paint as well.

Emojie Drums All Set for Work

We hope that more Papua New Guineans are as  awesome as the members of the MAM team. We’ve always known that Papua New Guineans like getting help, but lack in giving it back. The MAM team is one of the few people who gave back in a very practical amd cool way, including Pamela.



As it is commonly known, artists in the country are struggling with so little attention that art is given in this day and age. So the team members have other jobs they do to support themselves.
“Robert, Joshua and I do our own private jobs to keep us going,” Howard says.
“Robert owns Fox City Designs, and I operate under Bharts Gfx. Our companies are IPA registered.”

If a group of artists can do this for their town, why can’t everyone else?
Food for thought.

Contemporary Art By a Papua New Guinean Girl

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We are so engrossed with local art we decided to tell the story of another Papua New Guinean artist. This time its a ‘she’ and we love her art.

26 year old Julie-Meg Agarenga used to be a school mate back in the day, way up in the Highlands. We stumbled upon her art incidently on her Facebook profile page. Well, you know how the story goes, if we see something and we like it, we tell a story about it.

Miss Agarenga at work

Julie-Meg discovered her talent in tenth grade in 2011. She was quite good at perspective drawings but never really payed attention to that. Her art teacher noticed this and supplied her with a canvas and paints and she soon after created her very first painting. Well, we are greatful to the art teacher, who now remains nameless.

Julie-Meg says that her painting style is contemporary, adding that she likes to capture her own imaginations. We had too google “Contemporary Painting Style” mind you, but it was very insightful. Like we asked another young artist a while back, we wanted to know which painting great inspires her. And yes, she has a favourite. “Monalisa by Leonard da Vinci is my all time favourite. It’s simple, yet sophisticated. It’s very intriguing.” We couldn’t agree more.

Julie-Meg wants her paintings to be seen by everyone. We also want that. We think her paintings need a large audience. In fact, we think all local paintings and other art need large audiences. Her reply captures this perfectly. “My paintings are all about my imaginations coming into persepctive. I don’t want my art to be restricted to a certain age or culture group.” She comments further that she wants her audience to interpret her art in their own ways. A picture is really worth a thousand different words. Her audience grew a bit more when she recently won a prize in the Thomas Akis and Georgina Beier prize in the Grass Skirt Project under the open Category.

Currently Julie-Meg studies at the University of Goroka full time. “I put in an hour to five hours per day for projects, but not daily because of school.” Timing varies on when she completes a piece. “My detailed works take longer, but I can finish smaller pieces if I can use a whole day to paint.” She has been using acrylic paints for her work and has yet to try out oils. She also tells us that she uses a wall for an easel most days as she doesn’t own an easel. “I frame my canvas against a wall.” Well, improvisation is something we love.

‘Chasing Dreams’ a piece by Miss Agarenga

A while ago we asked a similar question to another young artist and now we ask Julie-Meg if she thinks local artists need more recognition. Her reply mirrored the other young artist’s. “I definitely do. The world has a lot of people who love art and pay hundreds for good art. Art and artists need more recognition,” Julie-Meg states.

Currently Julie knows of three other women artists from Facebook who are also nationals. It’s a small number, but that’s better than nothing we think. Julie-Meg’s next chapter in her story of art is something we are keenly intetested in. We are happy to know she will still be painting. “I’ll keep on painting, regardless of any other profession I’ll be pursuing. I’ll see where my art takes me.” We only hope for the best in her colorful artsy career.

‘Warrior’ a piece by Miss Agarenga

A Singing Belle

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We never meet ordinary people in life – and even on Instagram. Well, we say this because we met nineteen year old Stephanie Dapue Joseph on Instagram. We started out being hooked on her short video clips of song covers and then we decided to say hi.

Singing her heart out

Far from being ordinary, Stephanie lives in Madang where she has been living in Madang with her parents since she was eight. She has been up to quite a lot in her short life on this blue and green planet and yes, that in itself is extraordinary.

We were particularly interested in her singing so we took it upon ourselves to ask her about when she started singing. Stephanie replies that she really loved singing as a six year old, and that’s as far as her singing memories go. She describes her younger singing self as the “little me having fun with making sounds with my mouth”.

Interestingly, Stephanie tried out ‘just for fun’ auditioning online for the national singing competition Vocal Fusion in 2018. It was the Season 6 of Vocal Fusion, and her audition received a lot more attention than she expected. She was flown to Port Moresby a week later to partake in the competition. “I left school in the middle of the year. It was a crazy thing to do in the middle of a school year” Stephanie remembers. But she also gained some valuable lessons on her trip. She describes her experience as something that exposed her to a brand new world – where she met other talented people, much like her and some who were more experienced performers. ‘Just listening to some of them made me doubt myself as to whether I can really sing or not’ she says. But we think that if she can listen to herself sing that time in the way we are listening to her sing now, we doubt she’ll doubt herself.

Participating in Vocal Fusion Sesion 6

Given the relatively small number of female artists who so to speak ‘make it’ in the PNG music scene, we made a conclusion of a glass ceiling that local female artists can’t get at to crack. We asked Stephanie on her thoughts on our conclusion. Her reply was quite opposite to what our presumptuous minds were thinking. This songstress believes that the music world is fair, at least in this country. ‘When people hear a great song, they like it. Doesn’t matter if the singer is a girl or a guy’ she comments. Despite that statement, she has more to add, saying that women don’t make it big due to situations that come with a singing career. Examples? Well, touring and performances are burdensome for women with families for one. Next up is men are generally rowdy at performance venues, and a female’s performance might be affected, as she might feel unsafe or actually be unsafe. Now that’s a very sad picture showing a lot more handicaps for women than opportunities. She admits that this are her opinions, and yes there might be other factors hindering women from progressing in this career path.

Despite the gloomy stuff that we had to talk about and get out of the way, we found out that Stephanie has recorded a single track under the Samajo Studios. We asked if this was a record label and she says that Samajo is a group of friends who share the love of good music and helped her record her song. The title? ‘You Original’.

After this tiny bit of information, we wanted to dig up more information on whether she would consider singing as a career choice. Her answer saddens us a little. ‘If I lived in another country…… then YES! But it is a sad reality that the music industry in PNG doesn’t receive much government as well as private sector recognition.’ That is a whole new grade of ‘depressing’. Stephanie continues, ‘Artists only make money doing live performances, and sometimes there is no demand for shows at all. If music is a full time thing for artists, they won’t be able to make money at all when they don’t perform.’ A very stark reality she brings to light in that statement. We can only imagine how artists have to have other jobs to put food on the table and only sing part time as a hobby. ‘I Wouldn’t want that. Offcourse I’ll be singing and making music….. but no, I don’t see myself doing this as a full time thing.

After all the doom and gloom up there for musical artists we asked her who inspires her musically. Take a pick: ‘Michael Jackson!’ she says. However, her song and singing style? She coins her style of music as ‘local pop.’ ‘I write songs in an international style, but I mix in local flavors as well. I call my type of sound local pop.’ And a popping sounding genre at that.

We ask her what she sees herself doing in 5 years time. We were thinking music, but she is more realistic. ‘Maybe I’ll work in an office and do music part time, or maybe I’ll be on a stage singing. Only God has the final say.’ A mature reply.

We hope this young songstress gets the recognition she so rightly deserves for her talent. And yes, if she ever records any songs, we’d pay good money to listen to them. Local pop looks to be a very beautiful genre of music.

Another Story about another Woman

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It was another afternoon in another two week stint through the labour ward when I met anothet woman whose story I just have to tell. Now, this woman may remain nameless here but is real all the same.

We had gotten word over our ward cell phone that we would have a patient coming in from Popondetta. We were expecting her and were prepared for her arrival. However, the woman’s story, and why she came to the hospital I am based at is why I am telling the story.

This woman is a thirty one year old school teacher. She teaches primary school children in a village along the coast of Oro Province, away from the province’s main town Popondetta. She was in her second pregnancy and had been relatively well throughout her pregnancy. She was concious of her progression in pregnancy and attended the village health clinic for antenatal checks. She wanted everything to go well.

When this woman went into labour, she presented in time to Popondetta General Hospital for supervised delivery. However the doctor who attended to her discovered that the baby was breech. This means the baby was lying upside down, with the legs potruding downwards and the head upwards. This is abnormal. The head is the first part that should come out of the birth canal.

In breech presentation, we allow some women to deliver vaginally. In others we do not. Now this woman went into labour and eventually reached the active stage of labour. Her cervical dilation was 7cm. She had three more centimeters to go before she could deliver. She however failed to progress.

Now you may ask, how did she come all the way from Popondetta to Lae? Well, it turns out that the machines for sterilizing equipment and theater gowns and drapes at Popondetta General Hospital was bugged. The soiled equipment and garments were usually packed and flown to Port Mpresby for sterilization. This is such a long process that when this woman went into labour, the bundles of sterile gowns and drapes and instruments were still in Port Moresby.

The doctor could not do anything much at that point. The baby was already distressed inside. He had to make a decision on performing a cesarean section to get the baby out. The problem was he didn’t have the tools to do it. He had to make phone calls and a referral to our hospital in Lae kilometers away.

This patient was then brought by helicopter over to our end. By then she had no labour pains and her cervix was 4cm dilated. The baby despite being distressed, had a good fetal heart rate.

We eventually worked the patient up for operation and she underwent a successful cesarean delivery. The baby turned out okay. The mother was also OK.

So again, why this story? Well, I chose to tell this story to highlight a collapsing health system. Now, hospitals are where patients go to get the highest level of care. Now in this case, this care was simply unavailable. Now whose fault was this? Was it the hospital management? Was it the poor doctor who had nothing to work on? Was it the patient’s? Was it the machine’s fault?

Whose fault is this? Why are we failing our patients?

Well, I don’t think anyone can ever guarantee you an honest answer. It seems there is no simple answer to this question. The answer lies in an essay, maybe even a book, or maybe even many books about why our health system fails our patients.

Is this country a failed state, or heading towards failing? 😏

The Story of One Woman

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It was an ordinary afternoon at the labour ward, where I was working a few weeks back. We were working with mothers in labour, managing cases as usual. We usually got a number of referrals in a day, but sometimes none at all. We had a mobile phone at the ward that all the health centres in rural areas around Morobe could reach us on in case of an emergency.

That afternoon, we did not receive any calls from outlying health centres. We were not expecting any emergencies.Nevertheless, we heard loud voices outside and then a mother was pushed in on our only surviving wheelchair. Yes, the labour ward has only one wheelchair, you read that right. Her story? Well here’s bits and pieces of her story.

This mother was in her 5th pregnancy. She was brought in by boat from Salamaua, a small town that’s roughly 40km away from Lae and only accessible by boat and other watercraft. She was in a great deal of pain. She kept telling me and my boss and the nurses that she had been in labour for 4 days. I knew she wanted to get this across because she wanted us to do something to help her.

This mother still had white sand stuck on her hair and down her back, from where she must have been lying down, somewhere out near the sea in Salamaua, probably waiting for the boat to pick her up and bring her to Lae. Despite having good contractions, the baby was stuck way high up in the birth canal. She had to endure 4 days of pain, before she could reach help. Why 4 days? Well, the sea was a bit angry and it was unsafe for boats to be in the waters. I am not sure if Salamaua has a functioning health centre, and never got around to asking her.

Upon checking the mother, we discovered that her cervix was fully dilated,meaning it was 10cm in diameter and ready for the baby to pop out. However, we could feel that instead of the baby’s head being placed in the occiput anterior position, it was rotated a bit. The baby’s head was in the occiput transverse position. At that point in time, we could still pick up a very good fetal heart beat. This reassured us to go on and do an instrumental delivery with a vacuum extractor.

It was quite a difficult task as the mother was already distressed from labouring for 4 days. She was basically too exhausted to help us by pushing efficiently.

My boss set about positioning the vacuum cup and we set about pulling on the baby with contractions. It was quite a difficult task as the mother was already distressed from labouring for 4 days. She was basically too exhausted to help us by pushing efficiently.

Eventually however, we managed to get the baby out. It turned out the baby was abnormal. It had multiple congenital issues, including a mishapened head which was quite big.

The baby had a poor outlook. We explained that to the mother who took in stride. The mother recovered and the baby was taken to the special care nursery. The baby went under the care of the paediatric team.

Now you may ask, why this story? Well, I chose to tell this story to bring to light how we need more health workers equipped with the right skills amd knowledge out in the rural areas. I also chose this story to bring across the importance of family planning services in the rural areas. Having 5 children is a tad bit too much in this day and age. Also I want to elaborate also on a much more advanced health care level – what if these abnormalities in the baby were diagnosed in-utero? Would the woman go through all these trouble to eventually bear an offspring that’s basically a vegetable?

So while people complain about health workers being impolite and rude and always in a rush, its good for these ‘people’to put yourself in those worker’s shoes. Why are they always hurried? Why don’t they smile too much? And sometimes “people” need to be greatful they atleast get health care, while a mother labouring for 4 days out in Salamaua has no one to even assess her cervical dilatation. She is alone, with village birth attendants whose only health training may have been baby delivery taught to them from older village birth attendants.