Wednesday, June 10, 2009

British volunteers build facilities along Black Cat Trail

Volunteers with local childrenTrekforce leader Adam Hickman and a local child
Toilet construction
Rafting Francisco River
Jungle training at Gabesis
Jungle training at Gabensis
Group in the toilet pit
Entertainment at Komiatum
Construction of shower facility
Cement wall for the toilet
It may not exactly be in the same league as the high rise property developments in the major cities of Papua New Guinea, nevertheless, it is property development in a remote part of Papua New Guinea.
Thanks to an enthusiastic group of young men and women from Great Britain, villagers along the Black Cat Trail between Salamaua and Wau, Morobe province, can now offer proper toilet and shower facilities to trekkers of the fast-developing tourism icon.
The group of 11 young men and women came to Papua New Guinea in February this year and has been living in villages along the Black Cat Trail over the last four months, setting up facilities for trekkers, as well as teaching at Salamaua High School and Komiatum Primary School.
Last year, the first Trekforce group built a guesthouse between Skin Diwai and Banis Donkey outside Wau, while there from July-September 2008.
They were supported in their endeavours by the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, Huon Gulf MP Sasa Zibe and Bulolo MP Sam Basil.
The last group of five – Claire Orton, Paul Tidbury, Tom Turner, Callum Heitler and Angus Collins – left PNG last Friday after having the time of their lives in the mountains above Salamaua.
“Trekforce is volunteer organisation which works worldwide, sending groups of 10-15 people, aged 18-25, to areas like Borneo, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Belize in Central America,” Collins told me before leaving.
“We came here on Feb 5.
“We had five days jungle training in Gabensis (a village along the Wau-Bulolo Highway).
“From there, we went to Salamaua, had one night in Salamaua, and then walked to Komiatum.
“The first month was spent on building toilets.
“We dug a seven foot hole, so that no flies will go in – it’s supposed to be the most-hygienic way of building toilets.
“The second month was spent on building washrooms around the toilets.
“These will be used by trekkers.
“We’re trying to make it more comfortable for trekkers.”
The group planned to walked the Black Cat Trail, however, the recent violence in Wau put a halt to all that, and they instead spent time at Lababia Island further south of Salamaua.
After that, they came back to Salamaua, and taught students at Salamaua High School and Komiatum Primary School.
“We taught subjects such as social science, science, maths, English, arts, personal development, and making a living,” Mr Collins said.
“We were living with the teachers at the school, and after teaching, enjoyed playing basketball and football with the kids.”
All good things, however, must come to an end, and the young Britons were farewelled with a big feast at Komiatum before leaving last week.
I asked them of their best memories of PNG.
Paul Tidbury: “Spending time at Lababia Island and seeing the sights there was quite special.” Tom Turner: “The school (Komiatum Primary), at the end of our teaching, had some dances and singsings, and some food.”
Angus Collins: “The opening of the toilets was nice.
Callum Heitler: “The people, cultures.
Claire Orton: “I really liked Salamaua, especially swimming on the reef.”