Go Pinis

Go Pinis

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


"I know the pieces fit 'cause I watched them tumble down

No fault, none to blame

It doesn't mean I don't desire to point the finger, blame the other

Watch the temple topple over

To bring the pieces back together, (I must) rediscover communication"

Communication in Bougainville gives me the shits.

There's no internet access in the offices, so there's no email. There goes your ability to quickly and reliably arrange meetings.

There are phone lines, but Telecom sends the bills a few months late, and cancels your power because you didn't pay (having not received the bill…). Even if the bill arrives on time, chances are that the organisation has not budgeted for it and therefore can't pay it. So the phones are effectively mute.

We do have two mobile phone networks running, but they operate erratically, and sometimes have a lovers tiff and refuse to talk to each other.

So one knows that as soon as you need to communicate with more than, say, yourself, things are going to get complicated. For this reason I am often seen running around town, chasing people up and generally trying to get things done ("Mark! You go walkabout?").

Now imagine, as you sit in cubicle #2468, that one of your client/stakeholder meetings had to be arranged with people outside of town and you cannot use email or a phone line. Imagine also that there is no postal service. Messing with your head? Now imagine that a volcano blows up and the mobile phone networks are taken out. Welcome to my day.

''But I'm still right here, given blood, keepin' faith

And I'm still right here…"

Somehow, somehow, it all seems to work out. People are used to that here, and we all end up relying on personal networks…someone who knows someone who knows the person you are trying to get through to.

Serendipity also likes to play a card or two: it's weird how often I will bump into the very person I am looking for while going walkabout, even when I've been told that said person is currently in another town or on another island.

The key is to try and get patience and optimism to hold hands. Get that going and you can trust that it will all work out…eventually.

"Wait it out, gonna wait it out

Be patient."

Quotes from Schism and The Patient by Tool.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Woke up to another one of those mornings where its just impossible to rise and face the day…the ocean outside is taking it easy today and a calm breeze is telling me to relax and stay in bed. So I do.

I reckon I deserve a bit of a sleep in, to be honest. Yesterday was quite stressful: I was enlisted to help in addressing 1.3 billion kina worth of outstanding claims from the Crisis, and was informed that one of my projects could put lives at risk.

Goes without saying, then, that I was pretty fucking on edge when I sat down to have a rare beer after work yesterday. The location was Kuri Lodge and we (the VSA crew) were meeting to have dinner with Lloyd Jones, author of Mr Pip. Luckily my friends were spared my anger as one of the new AusAID advisers, Luther Smith, saw me first! Cheers Luther, I did sleep on it and will sort it out this morning.

Most of you will have heard of Mr Pip, or at least the kiwis will have. Lloyd Jones is a former journalist and was here covering the conflict in 1998. The people he met and the events must have inspired him, because he wrote what has become a very popular work of fiction, so popular that a film is going to be produced (they are casting already).

Lloyd was a really nice guy and shared some pretty cool stories. While chatting away he made the point that we are living in history; Bougainville is a nation in the making, and we should be recording the events and moments we experience here.

I have to say, he has a point. Change is all around us…there is a new President, and he is doing a good job of pushing for progress in achieving peace across Bougainville. The Panguna area, central to the conflict, has recently opened up to government services. The Morgan Junction road block, symbolic of the unwillingness of some to accept peace, may be dismantled this year. Both positive signs that Bougainville is moving forward.

I think it will be good for me to note some of this stuff down, and perhaps you might enjoy reading it as well. So I am going to make more of an effort to record what I am experiencing here. I'll even attempt to write every day, as Lloyd recommended. Gotta be good for me, right?