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The Journey to Paradise Photos of great cultural and natural beauties of Papua New Guinea

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Old 01-03-2005, 12:16 PM
***aCe*** ***aCe*** is offline
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Lagoon of Eden - visit to Aitape after the Tsunami

On Friday March, 24, 2000 communication Arts year two students left Madang to report on the ongoing rehabilitation programme set up by the Diocese of Aitape for the tsunami victims. The visit was made 2 years and some months later after the Tsunami hit Aitape in the early evening of Friday July 17, 1998

The enthusiastic journalism students of Divine Word getting ready for trip to Aitape in 2000. After travelling on MV Rita from Madang to Wewak where we arrived, we embarked on a road journey to Aitape.
The road linking East Sepik to Aitape in the West Sepik was in a bad condition - however we made it to our destination just before night
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Last edited by ***aCe***; 01-03-2005 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 01-03-2005, 12:25 PM
***aCe*** ***aCe*** is offline
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The following story was one of the encounter of one journalism student....

The coastline west of Aitape is seemingly lifeless in the wake of the tsunami which wiped out four villages nearly two years ago.

Our destination is the sand strip leading to the Sissano Lagoon.
This sand strip was once the paradise field for the people of Arop but it now lies like a cemetery yard.

At the rear, green land of Pes adds the natural colour of life. The Torricelli Range rises sharply into the cloud in the distance, enclosing the coastline.

On the sea, fresh westerly winds blow, bringing ashore the spectacular surf.
Miles ahead you can see sandy beach stretching and fading into the west towards Vanimo.

A breeze from the Bismarck Sea blows swiftly across the crystal-blue surface of the lagoon, cooling hot days and gracefully fanning the pine trees and coconut palms as far as the eye can see.

From the swaying coconut palms comes an orchestra of sibilant sound producing the sweet memorable melody of nature’s music.

This sound touches ones sorrowful heart and leads the rest in a slow walk into the mass grave which is the Sissano Lagoon.
Today, though the place appears lifeless, one thing is noticeable. It is the locals’ love of the lagoon.

Love is unpredictable in life. As the saying goes, “women are changeable like a feather in the wind,” and so is Sissano Lagoon.

Locals’ own love that turned ruthless on July 17, 1998, is now rebuilding, amending and fostering the bond they once had before the tsunami tidal waves’ destruction.

Out of love life begins or is reborn and continues on.
Biblical history tells us of the rise and fall of the Israelites to the promise of God, his plan for human life.

They turned away from God. He punished them in destruction such as flood, letting only Noah and his family live on the ark.

Despite the punishment, the Israelites came back, repented but generations later fell. God forgave them so life continued. This was because God kept his promise and love for them.

In the same way history reveals that in 1970 Sissano Lagoon turned against its own lovers, destroying many houses with minimal loss of lives.

Again, out of love, the life multiplied until July 17, 1998.
Now it is giving back the love and rebirth of life to those who survived the tsunami and to those born thereafter.

Sissano Lagoon, once the mass grave of the devastating tsunami, now lies flat, motionless, innocent and in a cool mood.

Its scenery greets and attracts the hungry and tempted eyes of any sensible travelers who enter its waters without any fear or favor.

Away from the superficial man-made towns and cities the lagoon is a breathtaking relief and breathtaking to city folks. Here nature in the form of a paradise lagoon is in command.

The heart-touching beauty of it all is that at a vast lagoon like this you could literally watch and wonder how nature is at play at its best.

This manifest the love it has to the visitors and to its lovers. That is why people there cannot resist its friendship.

Constantly, at its mouth, the lagoon receives the hammering waves and swift cool breeze to the Bismarck Sea.

Down at its floor lies the debris deposited by the tsunami.
Like a pregnant mother keeping safe and warm the new baby in her paradise womb, Sissano Lagoon keeps the skeleton, remains and souls of hundreds of men, women, children, pigs, dogs and chickens who perished on the evening of July 17, 1998.

Along its shores women and children now paddle and fish, displaying their fishing and seafaring skills as they did before.

Their smiling faces tell in silence: “Let’s forgive and forget. Let’s give and take and let’s live the peaceful life once again, forever.”

In its mysterious way, so speaks the Sissano Lagoon for itself about the beauty it has for its lovers.

The sparkling sandy beach, several green small green islands, young mangroves and the blue water resemble the promised paradise.

The scenery of Sissano Lagoon displays nature at its best, the love in action through which the unknown creator reveals his super power of love to mankind.

The sea and the beautiful Sissano Lagoon, separated by a sand strip where villages once stood, are now the source of livelihood for the people there.

The fish from the lagoon taste delicious.
The Chairman of the Rehabilitation Committee, Tas Maketu, said: “I love fish so much, just so, as I love Sissano Lagoon.”

The local people’s natural asset and mother of blessings, which became their worst enemy and watery hell, is now turning back into their paradise.

The fetal, devastating surf took lives, houses, vegetation and the peaceful existence of local people, and delivered them to the lagoon.

Locals will take time to forgive it for 1998.
For its part, Sissano Lagoon is now offering its love and taking its tsunami disaster as something of the past. Its scenery is revealing its dynamic love at its best.

Once again it’s a quiet and beautiful place.
It is so tragic that it turned its back on its lovers two years ago.

Now the survivors are settling many kilometers away from the coastline and the lagoon. Work is well in hand on building homes, schools and health facilities.

When completed living standards will improve.
In that, Sissano Lagoon plays two major roles. It gives food like fish and it provides a water transport passenger through which many materials and goods are delivered to the people of Arop, Barapu and Sissano.

For me, traveling into the lagoon was a special experience. I marveled at the changes that had taken place since the tsunami.

I had passed through Arop, Warapu and Sissano 15 years ago when I walked home to Vanimo after completing my ninth grade in St Ignatius High School in Aitape.

The landscape had changed so much it became a myth to me. The pine trees are already about 4-5m high. The bush now covered the land where once were beautiful villages.

The attractive tropical-style house, the surroundings, and lovely people have gone, possibly never to return, but no way will there be a change in the beauty of Sissano Lagoon.

Some call it: “Mass Grave Lagoon.” I call it: “Lagoon of Eden.”


The Aitape Lagoon...
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File Type: jpg Aitape 4.jpg (50.0 KB, 245 views)
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Old 02-03-2005, 11:55 PM
mangitbay mangitbay is offline
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A moving story indeed. Has the government put in place warning system or educating the people along the coast line to watch out for if some thing like that happens in the next future? thanks for providing the story...later mangitbay
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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