And the PNG Attitude readers’ story is one far removed from the languid passivity of the supine web surfer.
Our readers boast a notable track record of action – including medical equipment to Kavieng hospital, treatment for a Papuan villager confronting blindness, support for the Crocodile Prize, practical condolence to Reg Renagi, not to mention the recent successful Australian tour by Martyn Namorong.
And now we’re asking you to stand up, put up and stump up again.
Picture a small room tucked away in the paediatric ward of the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital in Kundiawa, Simbu Province.
There sits a man in a wheelchair. He’s nearing 50 and his faced is etched by time, hardship and the heritage of his Salt-Nomane people in the south Simbu.
This man has a degree in economics and was an agricultural economist and banker with Papua New Guinea’s National Development Bank until a car accident on 9 February 1999 left him paraplegic and laid him low. He’s been in hospital for the 13 years since.
Being thus disabled is a particularly tough gig in PNG, where welfare is self-provided and life with a disability is anything but easy. Most people die early.
But Francis Nii has survived. A tough man from Yobai village, he has adapted to tough times. He writes verse and prose (see the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2011), has published a book on the scourge of AIDS (Paradise In Peril), set up the Simbu Association of Persons With Disability, and, recently, was appointed administrator of the Simbu Children Foundation.
We’ve invited Francis to travel to Port Moresby in September to be present at the Crocodile Prize awards and to participate in a discussion group of regional authors at the associated writers forum.
Francis - who is not flush with funds - has been raising money to pay for his travel and accommodation but still requires another $800 to make the trip.
I’ve assured him I’ll obtain the money by hook and by the book (not by crook, no way), and I’m hopeful you may see fit to contribute a spare $20 or $50 to help out. Bank account details follow, as does one of Francis's poems:
Australia - The Crocodile Prize
Account name: SPSS The Crocodile
BSB: 633 000
Account number: 141 021 527
Papua New Guinea - Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers
Westpac, Waigani Branch
Account name: PNG Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers
Account number : 6002358726
By Francis Nii
Kunai hut, remember-me-ever
Wooden bed, forget-me-not
Roasted kaukau is always sweet.
Flowers keep smiling
Birds sing unchanged jungle melodies
While country kids dance free for joy
Waterfalls like silver crystals
Early rainbow kiss the dewy treetops
Kids hide and seek,
And mum and dad have endless honey moon.
No gang of boars, intrude.
Stay gentle village,
Peaceful promise land.