We are in the preparation stage of moving from PNG to Houston Texas and one of my major projects is to make sure that Lisa is set up before we go. Lisa is Grace’s nanny while we are here and is absolutely vital to our sanity and for Grace’s enjoyment. She is a very mild mannered lady from a very remote village – I am learning just how remote at the moment! – she absolutely dotes on Grace and probably takes more pictures of her than me and her grandmother combined.
Step 1. Get Lisa a bank account.
We actually wanted to do this earlier, but she didn’t want one, so we left it. Then when I returned last from Melbourne she asked if I could help her get one. This is great, it’s great for her independence, great for her development, great for the safety of her money, great great great. I was so excited when she asked that I dropped everything to work out how to do it.
Step 1a. Birth certificate.
So Lisa had to check, but her mum had lost her certificate somewhere along the way, so we need a new one. Ok, online I go and see which government department we need to visit and so on. I found some documents online and an address. So while we were out I asked a driver if he could take us to that office. He informed us that that office no longer exists, but you can go to the Civil Registry office and do all that stuff. He showed us where it was. Unfortunately it was already 1030 so there was a long queue and it didn’t look like the best place to be hanging out. So we decided to try early in the morning the next day.
Next day, we arrive, no one around so we walked straight in. I peeked down a corridor and saw a man and went and asked him if he could help. He would have to be the first person in PNG that I have dealt with that has grey hair. Anyway, he rummaged through the papers on the desk and finally found a form for us. He then helped us to fill in the form – which was a wow moment as well. Lisa has no idea of her age or birthday. So we had two men trying to work backwards from the date of her children, to the location of her village to the date of her marriage. One of the men was asking her if when she was married did she have tight boobies or dropped ones. Can you imagine dictating your age by the date of that? Working off that detail the man said we will say she was born in 1982. We then gave her the birth date of Christmas Eve because Lisa likes Christmas.
It is so hard to determine all of the details of where and how one arrives in PNG. Hospital births are abnormal, home and rural village is very much the majority. But what that means is that the official status of your birth won’t be recorded until you try and claim your certificate.
We worked through the remainder of her details, and then we had to go an pay for the form to be given to us, so over to another building in another suburb we go. This visit is quick and we just hand over the credit card and get it all done. Then back to the original building to lodge the form to get Lisa’s certificate.
When we get there a man tells me that the building isn’t open yet. Shocked, I explain that we had already been inside earlier that morning and told him who we were dealing with. Then he, likewise shocked, explained that we were dealing with the boss! We find out that the office isn’t really up and running yet, that most people haven’t come back from Christmas leave and so on. So the only guy to deal with is the governor of the department! We left feeling very important and happy to have been able to get all of those details done. I am still a bit shocked that we were able to get so much assistance from such a senior person. It was a great experience.
Step 1b. Employment identification
This one seems the hardest. To work with us in the compound we are in Lisa was required to complete a few tasks. She had to get a bill of health – no TB, and she had to have police clearance. Then she was required to hand all that to the compound management and she is meant to wear identification while on the grounds. We had the photo done some time ago, but the ID seems to be under some sort of delay. I chased it up and it was due to everyone being away for Christmas. So we are still waiting on step 1b to be completed.
Step 1c. Bank Account
I imagine this is going to be one of those slow things as well. Lisa has requested her account be in BSP as that is the local bank and probably has the most amount of ATMs outside of POM. There are accounts available where you don’t need an address and there are no bank fees and so on, but we will need to make sure of all those details when we set it up.
Step 2. Make sure her kids have what they need for school
So this is something else that we really wanted to help out with for the kids. Lisa has two girls, 11 and 7 and she looks after her big sisters son as well, he is 16. He is starting year 11 this year. He needs a uniform, school supplies and a supplemental cost amount to be enrolled. School fees here are free to attend, however there is also the sport uniform, school magazine and school project they need to contribute to. Lisa earns 200 kina a week, from this she has to pay for all three to eat and looked after. These additional fees are 300 kina and the uniform was 250 kina. School supplies are roughly the same price as at home, some are a bit cheaper here, but I don’t think you buy textbooks or anything like that. Either way, we covered the uniform cost and will be bringing some supplies up from Melbourne. The uniform was a horrid polyester, I think if he gets too close to a naked flame or even moves too quickly he will catch on fire. The shoes here are way too small, being brought in from Asia, and they are plastic. The smell made me gag as we were trying on shoes.
Step 3. Make home life as easy as possible
I don’t know enough about the conditions of how Lisa and family live. I know that she was kicked out by her husband and that her cousin uncle brother or something beat up her girls, so they all moved out. I feel they live in some kind of open space with minimal coverage. We have given her what we thought may be useful like tarps and so on. But the thing that made them happy was some solar lights that Tom had won in trivia. So we gave her our set and another friend gave her set. They were all so excited, they had lights and they also had a way to charge their mobiles (there was a power point on it as well) and the kids could now read at night. These lights aren’t anything much, and if she could have told us what she wanted we would have bought them for her. Now I am asking her if she needs anything else like that, maybe a water filter or anything like that. I feel she is too shy to ask, and also she is unaware of products that could help make her home life easier.
Step 4. Get our stuff ready!