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Old 22-04-2005, 05:11 PM
***aCe*** ***aCe*** is offline
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PNG & Port Moresby - No fear here, just Uniquely Unique

An article on one of Canadian’s leading newspaper The Gazette is perhaps one that will definitely put a smile on any Papua New Guinean reading it.

This is considering, the sometimes, outrageous and untrue comments from outside media branding PNG nation’s capital, Port Moresby as being one of the world’s worst city.

According to a survey carried out by Economist Intelligence Unit, the capital of Papua New Guinea was among the worst five cities as the 130th on the ladder after Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 126 Lagos, Nigeria 127 Dhaka, Bangledesh 128 and 129 Karachi, Pakistan.

Could it be true what they say about our beautiful nation and especially our city Port Moresby?

If you are reading this, and think that’s true, maybe you should read the article (below) written by Debbie Parkes, a journalist with the The Gazette.

Debbie, whose son Jonathan 21, took a trip towards New Zealand, Australia and who then decided to do a final stop in Papua New Guinea before heading back to Canada was worried sick when she didn’t get any reply from her son who was in PNG.

Thinking the worse, Debbie unsuspectingly sends a message when she finally located PNGBD website, within hours and to her amazement she got a reply. The rest is history. Here is Debbie’s article: Read on...

A mother’s Concern Turns to Panic

No word from Son

Could Jonathan have been dead for weeks? I started e-mailing strangers in Papua New Guinea.


SEVEN weeks ago, I thought my son could be lying dead in the other side of the world.

In early November 2003, Jonathan, then 20, took off with his backpack and a tent to see the world. He spent seven months in New Zealand, another five in Australia. All the time, he kept in fairly regular touch by e-mail.

Then, at the end of November he headed for Papua New Guinea. “Just to warn you, you might not hear from me for a while,” he said in one of his last messages before boarding the plane to Port Moresby, PNG’s capital.

He was heading to the island of New Britain’s remote areas where he’d be unlikely to find easy and affordable access to the Internet. He also said he was going to leave the capital as soon as he arrived as he heard it was very dangerous place for tourists.

My heart sank.

Could I do him a favour, he asked, and sign on to his hotmail account every now and then to be sure it didn’t expire.

“I know I don’t have to ask you this, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t read my e-mails,” he added.

“The only time I would read your e-mails is if I was worried about you and was trying to retrace your steps,” I replied.

“Let’s agree on a date that I should have heard from you by, so I can know when to panic.”

“Feb. 1 should the alarm date,” he replied. “But I’ll try to phone at Christmas and you’ll probably receive a postcard from me which you should take as a sign that everything is OK.

His last e-mail home was Nov. 29. When he didn’t call at Christmas, I was disappointed, but not concerned.

As the days crept by, with no postcard and no e-mails, motherly concern turned to panic. I had my reasons.

First he described Port Moresby as a dangerous place for tourists. Then, there was the Asian tsunami: while Papua New Guinea has been spared, the daily reports were a dark reminder of how people can be taken from us no matter how much they’re loved.

When the password he had given me for his hotmail account didn’t work, the irrational thought occurred that perhaps someone has kidnapped him and forced the password out of him.

To top it off, I read on the internet that there had been an earthquake in New Britain in January. There was no mention of casualties but my fertile imagination had him venturing out alone when the ground swallowed him up so no-one even realized he was missing.

For a while I found reassurance that Feb.1 was still a few weeks away but sense of doom gradually imposed itself. Maybe he’d been dead for weeks I thought when I still hadn’t heard from him by the last week of January.

Jonathan hat told me that when he bought his plane ticket to Papua New Guinea he’d also purchased tickets for the last two legs of his journey.

“Please send me the flight details, in case of some emergency,” I’d e-mail him at the time.

So I knew that on Jan 29, he was supposed to be on a flight from Port Moresby to Cairns, Australia. That’s it – I’d have him paged.

But first, I wanted to know about another ticket he’d purchase when he’d arrived in Port Moresby, which I knew of from having paid his Visa bill. “Air Niugini” was all, the bill mentioned. Where was it to and was it return?

I found the airline’s website, e-mailed the CEO, explaining my predicament and asking for help. I then e-mailed the Papua New Guinea Business Directory, an organization I found on the web.

I explain I was a very worried mother who had not heard from her 20 year old son for nearly two months and that I had information that he was booked on a flight from Port Moresby to Cairns on Jan.29. Could they kindly provide me with a phone number for the airport so I might have him paged?

When I hit the send button I wasn’t sure I’d even get a reply. To my utter astonishment, no only did one come within a few hours, but the writer who turned out to be the business directory founder; had also phoned the airport, confirmed Jonathan was booked on the Jan 29 flight, and found out he was also booked on a flight from Rabaul, New Britian, to Port Moresby on Jan 28 – the mystery flight.

But what touched me the most was the writer’s sign off. “Hope this helps put your mind to rest,

Kind Regards,

Gail ("also a mother).”

Those last three words made me want to cry. It was like a hand reaching our from the other side of the world.

“That was very kind of you to mention that you’re also a mother,” I wrote back right away. “I was very worried, because, being so far away, I have no sense of how safe it is where he is.

I asked if she knew what time the Rabaul flight was so I could try to have him paged then.

When Gail wrote back, she included pictures of her and her grand children – and reassurances Rabaul was considered one the safest places in P.N.G.

As for the flight, there were two possibilities: there was one in the morning and another in due in at 7p.m. I figured Jonathan would have booked the latter and planned to stick around the airport until his next flight the next day.

P.N.G. time was 4 a.m. our time. I’d go to bed early and set the alarm. The next day, I got an e-mail from Air Niugini checking to see whether I’d received my information.

“Hi,” I wrote back. “I sent a message to Kerry (also at Air Niugini) yesterday saying I’d found out through another agency that my son purchased a ticket from New Britain to Port Moresby. But thank you so much for your help. It’s really nice to know that people come through for us when we are panicking.”

“Ah yes children!” he replied. “They do not know what panic they cause us!”

I’d calculated Jonathan would land at 4 a.m. Montreal time and I’d calculated wrong. Amazingly, the pieces came together anyway.

About 10 p.m., I called the phone number Gail had given me, intending it as a test run before I headed off to bed.

I turned out Jonathan had been booked on the morning flight, which was delayed four hurs. He was, the very nice gentleman told me, in the air at that moment.

“You phone back in an hour and I’ll go to the plane and meet him and bring him here.”

I was almost screaming. The man at Air Niugini was right: Our children have no idea what panic they cause us.

Jonathan had spent two months living in some village with a family he’d met, and had even started learning the local language.

“I knew you’d be worried, but not that worried,” he said, bewildered.

“Jonathan!” I both laughed and almost cried. “you told me yourself it was very dangerous for tourists!”

“Oh, that’s what everyone said in Australia. It’s not true at all. This is an amazing place. I never felt in danger in the least. Everyone in the village was looking out for me.


Not to mentione the fact that it was a pleasant surprise for us here at PNGBD and the company’s Managing Director Gail Thomas whose name was mentioned a couple of times in the newspaper for her excellent service in providing a venue for communicating and for her quick reply .

Last edited by ***aCe***; 22-04-2005 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 22-04-2005, 10:19 PM
KLagaipT3 KLagaipT3 is offline
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It's concerned parents like Gail who paint a good picture about our young and growing nation. At most times, bad publicity from Australia tends to disrepute us in the global community and it creates adverse effects on our tourism industry as well. Nevertheless, it's good to see Auzzies (or shall I say true Papua New blue Guineans at heart) like Gail who work tirelessly each day to put the Auzzies' words back in their mouths.

This article's dedicated to you (Gail) and to all the care-spirited members of Papua New Guinean society!!
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Old 24-04-2005, 10:56 PM
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Congradulations Gail, PNGBD, Air Niugini, the family that took care of Jonathan and no doubt unmentioned others for being such outstanding ambassadors for PNG.

Your actions have conveyed to the world the true meaning of friendship, community and accurate empathy.

This notion is pervasive through out most cultures and races of the world but is sadly lacking in the Western world.

Congradulations to all once again.
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Old 26-04-2005, 12:50 PM
mangitbay mangitbay is offline
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Congratulations to Gail, Air Niugini and all those that have faith in our country. Regardless of how small such a help might be, it surely helps big time in promoting PNG and its people. Be positive; be hopeful!

Well done pngbd!

The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD, which is formed with the faithful in the womb. Sirach 1:12- Pro-Life
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Old 02-05-2005, 02:10 PM
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blade_runner blade_runner is offline
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PNGBD keeps coming up with bigger achievements and stories every year ....
I will definitely nominate Gail Thomas for Queens award next year for "Services to the Community" ....mark my word !

Top nating !
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