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Old 22-08-2003, 04:05 PM
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A Crisis Child returns Home

A Feature on Impressions of a Displaced Bougainville Youngster Upon Returning home

By Veronica Hatutasi of Wantok Newspaper

IT is the dream of every man to go back to the land where he was born, to walk on the soil of his forefathers, to feel the earth move, hear the crackle of twigs beneath his feet and to be among familiar surroundings.

That is how it is with me, every night I dream of the day when I will return home
That is how it is with many Bougainvilleans, displaced by the conflict and took refuge in other parts of PNG and abroad.
And for 13-year-old Nigel Manako Hatutasi, the yearning to return home to his beloved island which he left as a two year-old toddler, was fulfilled during his second term school break last year when he travelled with his mother to Siwai on the southern end of the island.to visit his sick grandmother.

Born just as the crisis escalated in 1990, he is one of the many crisis children who grew up amid the hardships and trauma in a war zone.

He however, left the devastated island with his mother and three elder siblings and took refuge in Port Moresby where the family has been since August 1992. But he only returned home for the first time after 10 years last June,.to a home and past he hardly has much recollections about, but once there, he thoroughly enjoyed the village life so much that he was reluctant to return to the hassles of Port Moresby city life.

Nigel's month-long sojourn on the island which sees the fist rays of sunrise before the other PNG provinces, and for which it is often referred to as the"Sankamap

Nigel - a true Bougainville son...who recently returned home after 10 years. But here, he is own his way to school at St Peter Chanel Primary School, Erima in Port Moresby where he is doing grade 7. He enjoys reading, collecting stamps, playing video games
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  #2  
Old 25-08-2003, 10:04 PM
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Homeward Bound

WITH his small backpacker containing minimal changes, presents for his cousins and attired in a yellow Arsenal soccer team shirt which he chose himself to specifically wear for the trip, Nigel is finally ready to go.

All through the week though, he had been halfhearted about going as he was going to miss his friends and most of all, the event which momentarily captivated the majority of the population in Port Moresby and that was the World Cup Soccer games televised daily on the TV screens. Spain and Brazil are his favourites and leaving a week before the first semi finals are played was difficult however knowing that he would be back in time to watch the finals offered some relief.

The waiting at the Port Moresby Jacksons airport domestic terminal doesn't take long.

Being the first time for one of Bougainville's son to be returning home, he obviously is excited. Between a drink and a pie, the 12-year-old is bombarding his mother with questions regarding their transit for in Buka, the mode of transport they'd be taking and for how long, the homefolks and more. Before long the boarding call is announced and without hesitation, Nigel marches through the departure lounge, past Gate number 9 and onto the big silver bird awaiting to take on-board the Rabaul-Buka bound passengers.

Nigel with his two brothers, Trevor and Terence
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Old 27-08-2003, 10:56 AM
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He favours the window seat to take in a better view. After buckling his seat belt he sits comfortably as the big silver bird gradually soars into the high heavens. He watches and listens carefully at the safety instructions of the flight stewardess.

With a very inquisitive mind, conversation rolls on between him and his mother. As the air hostess passes snacks and pots of coffee and tea, he opts for coffee surprising the young woman who raises an eye and a half smile. Oh well, the world is changing, not the same when coffee was only for grown-ups while milo, tea and juices were the kid stuff. Jokingly the mother says, "Nigel, do you really have to?"

"Mum we have been up early and I.m feeling cold. I have to keep awake, so I am having coffee just like you," he emphasizes and mother and son just laugh about it seeing that yeah, he definitely has a point there.

Being in Grade 6, he knows locations of the various places in PNG so when the island of East New Britain come to the fore, he rightly points it out. The plane lands and those disembarking at Tokua airport exit from the plane.

Taking in the sights of beautiful Rabaul, he wants to see more so urging his mother with a request for chewing gum, they walk down to the terminal. As the announcement comes on for boarding, they follow the other Buka-bound passengers, among them his aunt who is also going on the same flight, having flown over to Rabaul from Manus the previous day. What a nice and pleasant surprise this is. The three walk together and board the plane.

Nigel with his friends at a Birthday Party
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Old 27-08-2003, 11:03 AM
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As the journey nears home, it gets even more exciting for Nigel. Time flies as they pass over lovely coconut palmed islands, many small islets surrounded by the vast glistening blue seas. Before long the announcement comes that shortly, the plane would be disembarking at Buka airport. Then comes the long-awaited moment and with happiness bubbling within him, Nigel proudly walks out the doorway out of the plane with his small backpacker, down the steps and onto the soil of his dearly beloved island. I could almost hear the echoes of, Bougainville here I come!

Some friends pick the three and drop them off at the beach front in Buka town to make arrangement for transport onto the next leg of their journey to the other end of the island in south Bougainville.

Below is' Nigel's story, of his impressions and his four weeks sojourn at Siwai during the month-long stay there.
Memorable impressions

"At first I am reluctant to go home because I will definitely miss my friends, the World Soccer Cup and watching TV. But this is holiday time and I must see my sick granny, so I take the trip with my mother. I have now seen and know the various places on Bougainville which I only hear from family members and wantoks, see on TV and read about in newspapers. I also learn a lot of new things, fully enjoy myself with my cousins and friends. Except for the rains which did not seem to stop and hampered us from making more visits to the different villages to see relatives and friends.

"What I enjoyed most at home is the walks in the bush with my cousins and friends where nature is at its best and birds fly at their own freewill, going to the garden, swimming in the clean, clear, fast flowing rivers, drinking kulau (young coconut) and with the rhythm of the falling rain and the light of the moon and stars above, sitting around the fire-place with my cousins, aunties and bubu, eating hot and yummy roasted bananas while listening to folk stories (or tumbuna stories) retold by those around who know of any.

"Within the short time at home, I even get the self confidence to walk alone at will in the bush and enjoy nature, something which I never had a chance to see and enjoy since I left home when I was only a toddler. A couple of times, I had my mother worried when I do the disappearing act to find my cousins and friends who had gone quite far to the garden and later to a river further in, to fish. I manage quite well on my own and find them in the depths of the jungle.


Travellers pause for a picture at the Pitpit River along the Highway to Arawa town in Bougainville
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Old 27-08-2003, 11:17 AM
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"I am really awed by the tall gigantic trees whose foliage blocks all sunlight and the skies above. How wonderful to see the varieties of birds, spotless white cockatoos, screeching parrots, hummingbirds, gentle pigeons (balus in Tok Pisin) and large hornbills flying, nesting and perching at will in their fortresses in the wilderness. Never had I seen most of these birds before and I am amazed that such lovely birds exist!

"I enjoy the nights as the rain patters down on the sago palm thatched roof, cousin Jermaine plays his wooden ukelele and my two aunties, mum, cousin Gilbert, Connie and I all join in to medleys, varieties of favourites tunes of my mother and aunties , from when they were young and into tunes of the present day and age.

"Archery is an area of great interest and what better opportunity I had to learn how to make bows and arrows and, most of all, how to use them using targets.

"Armed with knives and a rope, my cousins Gilbert and Jermaine, friends Connie and Ruku take me down to the riverside where sago palm trees grow by the multitude. There, one of my cousins climb and cut a branch of two of the sago palms branches from which arrows are sharpened. I returned to Port Moresby with a bow and 100 arrows! My mother made fun of me saying I better not arm for something that will make all hell break loose such as a tribal warfare in the city, but the BRA style!

"On our first week at home, we all go to an engagement ceremony of an auntie at a village where we walk about four hours. I have never walked such a long distance. But I fully enjoy it (the walk) with all our other cousins and relatives, crossing large clear fast flowing rivers where fish swim at will, getting glimpses every now and then of a few wild ducks plummeting down mid river to cool themselves and to also quench their thirst. Children on this trip also do the same to cool off from the hot sultry Bougainville heat. I'm almost tempted to follow suite however I resist the urge seeing I did'' t bring extra changes. Nature, the call of birds basking in the mid morning sun, trees taller than any I've seen, well plotted food and cocoa gardens and roadside hamlets hold my interest.

"The traditional ceremony includes family and close clan members from both sides where the young girl's side await at the village residence for the man's people. I wait with my auntie's people. The long awaited moment comes when the man's people are welcomed by the (girl's) waiting party, in a traditional way which means splashing then with water, singsings and exchanging handshakes.


Waiting for the arrival of the MV Sankamap
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Old 27-08-2003, 11:24 AM
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Thereafter, the man's people are offered a meal and kulau( young coconut) for drinks . Then both parties sit and exchange goodwill conversations while waiting for speeches from the spokespersons from each side. Mainly the uncles do the taking after which the bride price is paid. After some time of friendly talk and happy that new ties have been made, it is time for both parties to head home.

As for me, my mother, aunties and cousins, we visit a sick grandmother who lives further in the middle of what I see as no man's land, in the heart of the jungles where even the trees almost block the sunlight. Overcast skies signal rain so we quickly head home after a brief visit. This time, we take the short cut bush track home and my oh my! I am awed by the virgin forests where the tall ancient tress and their foliages leaves no room for the sun's light to penetrate through. And the sky is completely obscured.

The three weeks after this are unlike anything I have seen and known. Rain, torrential and non-stop, at least for a week pour freely as if the clouds have opened up. We just stay indoors, cold and chilly, not even moving except for the call of nature or urgent needs.Rivers, streams you name it are all a flood and food gardens, bridges and everything within the pathway of river systems get awashed. Some villages, especially those along the coast are under water. As a result, we experience a shortage of food. The local canteens run out rice so we really feel pangs of hunger like never before. Root crops such as kaukau and tapioca rot away, making things even worse.

At home in Siwai
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Old 27-08-2003, 11:31 AM
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Sad farewell

"My mother and me are stranded by two weeks and there is no way out until finally the rain slows down and the floodwaters subside. Then we prepare to look for transport onto Buka which is between 8-10 hours drive away.

"As the day approaches for our departure, sadness overcomes me. Sad to leave my grandmother, my cousins and new found friends such as Connie, Ruku and the other village boys who have become my very good buddies in the short time I am home. But like everything else in life, all good things must come to an end. Sad, isn't it. I promise to get things for some who have made requests on items they very much want.

"After a sad farewell which is still imprinted in my memory especially of my aging grandmother shaking hands with teary eyes to my mum and myself, the engine of the Toyota open back slowly comes to life, hailing our journey via Buin, Aropa, Arawa, Wakunai, Tinputz and onto Buka to await our flight back to Port Moresby by Air Niugini. The trip to Buka takes about 10 hours


Leaving Bougainville shores - sunset over the island
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Old 27-08-2003, 11:47 AM
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At home in Siwai,s Nigel's cousin plays with his pets
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Old 27-08-2003, 11:55 AM
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Picture of an antena in Panguna covered by bush. This was taken during Nigel's trip home


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Old 27-08-2003, 12:00 PM
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"I feel privileged to have gone around the island, from east to west and north to south by car and seen most places I've only hear about, beating my other bigger brothers. I can now say I have seen the famous Panguna mine which we passed amid heavy rains, mist and fog, the tailing s dam which flows into the Jaba River. It does not have the bluish mineralised colour anymore as when the mine used to operate almost 14 years ago.

"Another thing which fascinates me and had me and my mother busy is counting the rivers, creeks and streams which we cross on this all round trip. There are well over 150 of them, we sort of lose the count tally of the exact number somewhere along the way.

"Returning to the city, I feel nostalgic and my yearning to return home to Bougainville burns deep within me.Someday soon I hope, the day will come when my family and I will permanently move back to our beloved island home, to a new Bougainville where we will start afresh after the turmoils of the many years of conflict.

Ends.....



A map of Bougainville showing Nigel's route when travelling home to Bougainville after the Crisis
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