As you would have found out, Port Moresby is classified as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. And yes, POM does have its issues, and simple things like the banning of buai sellers may just increase crime in the city (that’s a post for another day).
I have always tried to keep a balanced viewpoint on PNG, and it would be remiss of me to not blog about some of the bad shit that does happen here, just as it happens everywhere else in the world.
What I am about to blog about are true stories that have affected me, or that I have been involved in. You do need to take into account that I am pretty happy living here, and that what is fine for me, may not be for you. It is also important to remember, that acts of violence can be significantly attributed to poverty, lack of social welfare, poor wages, lack of education, and of course the tribal nature that is PNG. Most acts of violence do not affect expatriates, unless you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I have removed some of the detail out, as I don’t want some of this to adversely affect people’s viewpoints, nor endanger Papua New Guineas tourism, or locations.
Unfortunately, myself and my family were in a very safe area, when a group of 20 plus men ran into the area chasing another man. They were picking up bricks, rocks, sticks and were carrying bush knives (machetes), and were attacking the man that they were chasing. They ran between myself and my 2 older children, and my wife with the youngest. I shielded the older kids, whilst my wife was able to move away to a safer spot as they proceeded to butcher the man they were chasing. During the attack, they grabbed a random young 11 year old boy who was an innocent, and proceeded to bash him. Grown men beating a young boy, it was horrific.
The attack lasted mere minutes, and they raced off (now a group of 30 odd) dragging the man and slicing him with the bush knives.
Whilst the attack was happening, I assessed, made sure my family was safe, and didn’t get involved. Then, once it had finished, I helped the other expat that was there and “muscled” up to try and intimidate them not to come back. We assisted the boy who had been beaten, who was then taken off to get help.
It was a pretty horrible thing to witness, and at one stage my wife was less than 2 meters away from a local guy yelling “kill him, kill him” and we were basically right amongst the violence.
It is important to understand, that the violence was a payback, and the man getting butchered had tried to cut off the arm of another man the night before. And surprisingly, he actually survived the attack, although I haven’t heard if he still lives now. The child being attacked was something I will never forget, not only was it cowardly, but as he had nothing to do with the other man, it was completely unnecessary.
I will never forget the sight of those men cutting and slicing the other man – it will stay with me forever. I will never forget the sight of grown men bashing an innocent child – it will stay with me forever.
This is not the Papua New Guinea that I love.
On Saturday, I was driving here in Port Moresby. I had been following a ute (single cab truck) that had 2 children in the tray. This is a common sight in PNG and is actually legal… The kids in the ute were tossing things like buai husks off the back of the ute, so I decided to pass them. After passing them, the ute driver decided that he was going to pass me back, and at about 110 km/hr and right beside me (I wasn’t going that fast) he realized that some stupid idiot had stopped in their lane. The driver locked his brakes up and started fish tailing, Missing me by centimeters, the ute then flipped on to its roof throwing the children off the back…
I slowed down, but seeing the crowd and knowing I was going to be in big shit (even though I did nothing) I decided to keep traveling… I rang one of my team to try and get hold of emergency services, which he couldn’t get through to.
There is nothing I could do, but I feel responsible. I could have helped, but if I had stopped, the crowd could have easily turned on me.
The sight of that ute and those children getting thrown out of it, is just cutting me up. I can’t sleep without seeing those kids. I’m frustrated, and angry. It’s just bloody tragic, and so wrong. I suspect that the children could never survive the accident, and I am racked with guilt and sadness…
Don’t let things like this stop you from coming here, just remember that this can happen anywhere. And although what we have seen was horrific, we are still here, we are still making a difference, and we will still speak highly of PNG and its people.
To our families – you may get stressed about us living here. I get stressed in an airplane :) We understand the risks living in a developing country, and they haven’t changed since we’ve been here. We don’t do stupid things, and we don’t take unnecessary risks, but we won’t be locked in a compound like some people live.
To my readers, and people wanting to live and work here in PNG. Check your local papers, there is always bad shit happening….