Through a blind man’s eyes
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The matriarch of Mindre village speaks out


Balim_Dupain DUPAIN BALIM is from Mindre village along the Rai Coast of Madang Province, where she is an advisor of the local Lutheran women’s group at Biliau circuit.

She is also an advocate of the Lutheran Church’s Decade to Overcome Violence project and has travelled widely throughout Madang, Morobe and East Sepik Provinces.

Last Sunday Dupain sat on her woven coconut under the shade of the mango tree and listened as the verdict of the National Court decision on deep sea tailings was being conveyed to the people of Mindre.

She was the only woman to speak during a meeting dominated by male voices.

When the meeting ended I walked over to her and asked if she was willing to have a chat.

When I asked her what was the main concern for women of Mindre village, Dupain replied, “Wara! Mipela save hat wok long wokabaut long Yaganon long kisim wara.” [Water! We (women) have to walk to Yaganon River to fetch water]

She then continued in Tok Pisin, “i nogat gutpela helpim long kisim marasin. Ol i mas apgreidim eidpos long kisim marasin. Ol mama igat bel ino save go long taun long karim bebi. Nogat bebi klinik. Ol lain husait igat moni save go long taun.” [There is little medical assistance. They (the mining company and government) must upgrade the aid post (at Ganglau village). Pregnant women cannot go to town for deliveries. There aren’t any Well Baby Clinics. Only families who can afford to travel to town can attend Baby Clinics.]

The people lost their main cash crops of coconut, betel nut and cocoa when their plantations were cleared to make way for the nickel-cobalt processing facilities. Today only those who do manual labour for the miners are able to earn an income.

Mipela ol lain stap nating nogat moni. Nogat wanpela gutpela senis!” she remarked. [Those of us who aren’t employed by the mine don’t have any income. There hasn’t been any positive change]. The lines on her face revealing how emotional the issues were.

Then in a dignified voice, she looked at me and said, “mi bin laik go wokim aweness long ol lain wok long Ramu Nico tasol kaunsil i tok maski yu meri, ol i nonap harim tok blong yu.” [I wanted to carry out awareness (on violence) amongst the workers of Ramu Nico but the local councilor said ‘you’re a woman, no one will listen to you’]


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