On the 29th of March as I was strolling around my home town of Arawa, a town we refer to as cowboy town these days after the war, I noticed some people with kids wearing school uniform marching towards the oval near what used to be the Post Office before the war. I went near the person with the loud hailer who welcomed me, he knew me, so I somehow became part of the team in some ways. Then I heard that it was the disabled children’s national day. I was amazed because before the war in my teens I never saw anything like it, those that I knew were taken care of back in the villages and never went to a school or training like this.
I thought this is great so I asked Lucy the lady I know if I could take some footage of the events and the disabled kids who are full of smiles and proud in their own ways. Lucy told me you can go ahead and I filmed the kids. I am very proud that I will add this footage in my documentary which I have just started shooting: “Bougainville after the war”.
I asked Mark the master of ceremony if he could talk on the camera and he was very happy to do so, he told me that he’s got a disabled daughter who is now integrated into the abled kids school because of the Callan Service programme in Arawa. Later I asked one of the teachers as well to talk on the camera, she talked and talked giving me no time to ask her questions. I told her I would go to the school the next day to film her teaching the kids.
On the 30th I went to section 17 where the school is and took few shots and asked the site leader Hildergard Kamena to talk on the camera. She was very excited as she told me that this is the first time that a media person is around to film them. She stated that the centre in Arawa looks after disabled kids and people from central and south Bougainville. There are more out there in the villages, and they visited them when time permits as funds are one of the main obstacles.
She mentioned that many of these disabilities were caused by the war on the Island. I was very impressed as before the war no one took notice of the disabled kids and people in and around Arawa and all over Bougainville.
Even those who become disabled after the war will be cared for and learn and will not be left out and they will make use of the life that they have.