On the morning of June 9, we did interviews on the camera with men and women from Manda village and they showed us around the village, pointing out the roofing irons and water tanks the Company gave to them. The roofing irons are not in use because they have no chain saws so they can’t cut the timber for housing. This is the same with the water tanks. Julius is a Villager whose house is on the other side and he put up his water tank and an iron roof house. He told us that he tried his best to build his house with very little assistance from the mine.
Casper took me and Patrick to see some turtles, the river ones. We took some pictures and then we took off for the second day trip down to Obo. Aaron our guide and boat owner is married to a woman from Obo, so that’s where we stayed for the second night. When we came to the Village it was still the same as with the other villages: the river went further up and high. Aaron and his in law have built a new guesthouse on the other side of the lake so we went straight there. His people cleaned up the area and were there when we arrived. In the night we ate Deer, the meat was so sweet so we went for the second round. They told us that even though most of the land in Western Province is swampy and hasn’t got many greens, they have lots of flesh meat from many animals.
We had a good nights rest after sleeping the other night in a tent. The next day we went to the main village, did more interviewing and talking with the people. The last question we asked them was what advice they would give to the Melanesian brothers and sisters from their experience with the mining. Many of them always mentioned to take time and read the agreement or take a good lawyer to assist. Also, the political member of the area must be a good person who can help his people. They regretted in telling us that the members they voted into parliament left them and now live in Port Moresby.
The maximum benefit must come to the people, the resource owners or the people who will be along the affected zone. Along the Fly River from Kiunga there are 156 villages with over one hundred thousand people. One intending candidate in the middle fly that I spoke to said that his people have signed a death warrant, the fishes are dying, the sago palms are getting hard to get, food isn’t growing as before soon the people will start dying. He advised that the resources are manageable, so make a good decision with wise leaders for the people and not for money. I hope if he wins, he will bring to his people what he promised them during his campaign and not fall into the same pit as others. Aaron took us to a high school which Ok Tedi had built for the community but its problem is isolation, there are no banks, clinics etc nearby, so most of the teachers went away or don’t like to go there.