MORISSET - Earlier this year Rose and I discovered that Rose’s mum, Mana Dau, was being abused by some distant and nasty relatives at the place where she was living in Lae.
It wasn’t just verbal bullying either, Mana had some of her teeth knocked out and the whole situation was untenable.
We arranged for her to get new teeth fitted through a local dentist but realised Mana couldn’t stay where she was.
Rose told me the family had land at Banz in Jiwaka Province at the eastern end of the Wahgi Valley.
It had been bought by Rose’s father when she was young and the family had legal and permanent title.
Some of the family was living in a small house there, but there was no room for Mana which is why she ended up in Lae, a long way from home.
Anyway, we talked with the relatives, checked how things were on the ground at Banz and figured out how we could help.
Everyone agreed things that a new family house would be just the thing; a place where Mana could live out her days with Rose’s brother and sisters and immediate families.
When my Dad died a couple of years ago, Rose and I had come into a bit of money and rather than book a cruise or spend it on ourselves, we decided a better plan would be to build a new house for Mana and the relos.
Many long phone calls took place between Morisset, Lae and Banz and problems were sorted and agreements reached.
The first thing we did was to move Mana out of Lae, so a temporary liklik haus was constructed for her to live in while the main building went up.
And, lo and behold, here we are in November 2021 and the new house is being built. Work is well underway and power, water and a septic tank are now being installed.
The family started work Papua New Guinean style – which means you start from scratch and do it yourself.
First calling upon relatives to offer a helping hand and to see which skills they have.
A couple of relatives were builders, which was a lucky break, and they knew the friendly owner of a sawmill down the road.
Soon the project was accelerating – starting with cutting down trees, milling logs and preparing the timber.
Mana is happy about both the house and that the family has rallied around. The project has also provided employment for some local Banz youth.
Work has now started on preparing a food garden, which Rose insisted upon.
We have just learned, with delight at their thoughtfulness, that the relatives have added a separate bedroom with an ensuite just for us.
The grand opening is planned for some time next year and everyone hopes Covid will have exhausted itself by then.
It’s a project that has been successful in so many ways and, as for Rose and me, we just want to get back to that beautiful place, pretty much slap-bang in the middle of Papua New Guinea.