Spending little time in remote school in Inuma Village

EXPERIENCE

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inuma village remote school

Experience remote school environment with no electricity, no concrete floors and lack of simple facilities

Posted by

akamau

Inuma Village in Brief

In the deep south of the Magi Highway, away from the city of Port Moresby, you will find Inuma village, a tiny remote village located beside the highway is a place where time is seen differently from the western way of life. This village is located in central province in Papua New Guinea and about two to three hours drive out of Port Moresby. Untouched by mass development, this village is a place where you can still see and feel the real remote village lifestyle. Inuma village landscape is a diverse mixture of earthy agriculture, wide open spaces with untouched and minimal farming activities and some of the most beautiful natural forest with amazing scenery you have ever laid eyes on. 

A small village with a population of approximately 100 people living permanently in the village makes it one of the most friendliest and hospitable village you ever come across in this part of the world. Most of the people who are employed live in the nation’s capital, Port Moresby make their occasional trips back to the village during special occasions or holidays.

Inuma village

Why Go?

In 2013, I returned to the village where I grew up as a child to visit families but it was a life-changing trip for me. Whilst I was there, I turned my attention to village school to find out more about schools in remote areas in the region, especially, the elementary school in Inuma village. The elementary school in remote communities was introduced by the Papua New Guinea government for number of years. This system of education was to provide opportunities for communities living in remote areas to have access to the importance of education. I wanted to observe how this system had progressed in this tiny village school – Inuma. Despite having traveled quite a bit, there was something truly magical and mind-blowing about remote schools. I had never visited anything quite like it before. The people in remote areas live in wide open space with abundance of food surrounded by tropical flora and fauna but there is a lack of infrastructure in schools. Seeing these happy faces truly touched my soul. 

Faces of students at Inuma village school

Getting there?

My journey began with a two to three hour drive south of the city of Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. The road leading out of the city, the Magi Highway wasn’t smooth as expected. Most of the road is bitumen but is rough and deeply pot-holed. This rough and pot-holed roads are visible and commonly recognisable both in urban and rural areas throughout the country. As we drove along the highway, we went through many beautiful remote villages one after the another. Throughout the country, where many of its people live in remote villages have little or no access to education. About 90% of people living in remote villages don’t know how to read and write. For those who are privileged, many times, we have taken education for granted.

Visiting the Inuma elementary school was one of my best experiences I ever had. The school is located in the heart of the village next to the village church building. The church building architecturally designed is built with modern building materials is visibly noticeable from the distance. The school classroom built with simple structure has corrugated iron roof supported by eight wooden poles with no built-in walls and no concrete floors. The school desks are made from local timbers, laid out sequently on earth-floor for students to use.

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The schools in remote areas throughout the country are under-resourced with very little or hardly any facilities compared to any typical urban schools in the city. However, one of the highlights of my visit which amazes as I took time to process and digest these cancerous corruption with the education system was the power of the children that I had come in contact with. For children who live and attend schools in remote areas like the Inuma village, the teaching standards and learning facilities are very poor. Sadly, all schools have similar experiences throughout the remotes areas of the country. Teaching in remote schools is a commitment and it is not for everyone. The conditions can be very challenging. However, it is a unique experience and can be immensely rewarding, offering a lifestyle you may never get to experience working in cities.

It was no surprise to me that many of the children come from under-privileged family backgrounds with either parents having no formal education nor employed. Many based themselves in the village to be subsistence farmers. Many of them come to the city to sell their surplus of goods or on the side of the road to pay for their children’s education and buy other items that they need.

This is the lifestyle that I found myself in a very familiar situation which I am no stranger to it. This is where I began my childhood journey and is still very green in my mind. Taking time to visit school like this in remote areas, is no stranger to me compared to what I have seen in some of the schools in most poorest countries in the world. Many of the schools in remote areas have dilapidated ammenities, crowded schools and uneven ratio of students per teacher. Though they lack many of the vital facilities, the children are happy and their cancerous smiles are priceless.

Faces of students at Inuma village school

These challenges children face in remote areas at home are varied. With parents lack of formal education creates a big gap for a child to further their knowledge and help at home. Most of the remote villages have no electricity, nor running taps. It is a common problem felt across developing countries and the strain in remote areas is acute. The schools in rural areas often operate out of single classroom or in unsafe buildings and the teachers are under-paid and trained.

From what I have seen and observed, the children are happy and always eager to learn. They have the luxury of freedom and the breath of fresh air goes a long way. They may struggle but their way of life, surrounded with rich natural environment creates an atmosphere where everything is worthless. It is definitely a place for adventure travellers paradise. 

Spending time with these children was the best part of my experience. All of these children belong to my immediate and extended families, This is what I have come to see and learn. Sadly, what I have seen with children’s standard of learning with limited resources created an environment that is depression but everyone seems to be so happy and free. It is a place where the children and community see it as a norm – A lifestyle they become accustom to from their worldview.

ABOUT ME


ic.golina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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Living well with Grief

Almost 10 years on

It is hard to believe that someone that you have spend almost your entire life with is suddenly gone, you find various avenues for your emotional release and finding various ways of dealing with loss. It is something that each individual had to fight alone.

Dealing with Loss and Grief

No one can truly appreciate the uniqueness of the journey each of us take when learning to live without either your child, father, mother, wife, husband and parents or soul mate of many years.

Life Adjustment

For my personal experience, time has not healed but it has certainly modified my pain and loneliness. They say, time heals and it has definitely allowed me to slowly adjust to the ‘new living arrangements’ and has given me a chance to reassess my life from another perspective – trying everything on your own. This is not a simple process and one has to take time but over time, you will become stronger – a strengthening process that will continue to give you burst of confidence and ownership of your new life.

Let it Go

For me, I have finally learn to “Let it Go” of what I couldn’t control. It is difficult but we need to press on with what we need to do, can do and enjoy doing it. As the saying goes, it is vitally OK to spoil ourselves and most importably, be kind to our own body.

I have found it necessary to take time out when I needed to and allow the memories that sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks to flow without interruption. It is healthy to respond to sorrow in this way; real friends will be happy to join you in times of your need.

Doing things on your own

As time went on, I realised that I was totally responsible for myself. That is when I choose not to become a burden to anyone, including me. I had to go for regular exercise, ate healthy food intake, re-energised my sleep, wonderful family time, having fun with fun friends, being creative and proactive. At the same time,  spent time alone for reflection especially out in nature, are all very important for our soul. Life is still so precious and there is so much to live for. We all have unique gifts to share.

Understanding of others

You got to experience it to know it. For those who have mourned have reached a new and greater understanding of love and how priceless it is. Our journeys have given us greater empathy and sensitivity, especially to others who mourn. We have greater compassion now, and can connect with others in more meaningful ways because of our personal journeys.

For me, I took time out to revitalise when I need to by taking a long walk on the beach, listening to uplifting musics, meditating, having a coffee with a special friend and sharing life with family.

A new Life

As you go on, you will experience a new kind of love and life. Nothing will replace the warmth, security, intimacy and glow of love that you shared with – your children, parents or loved one. Those beautiful memories will last our lifetime. However, there are folk in various situations who will need love and will give love in return. To me, when I am down, my therapy is to help someone else. The joy and fellowship of being there for others has significant benefits. It helps me to get over difficult personal hurdles of pain and loneliness. Being there for others will help you to learn and grow, as well as meeting new people.

Over time, you will be surprised to learn that you have developed new knowledge and skills and you will be so grateful for the victories of each day and the learning curves you have gone through. You will know you can and will survive and live a quality new life. You live the life the way you feel, no matter what you keep it real. Yes, it is time to do it on your own and now its time for you to take control.

Go out and About

You have to step out of your comfort zone and join many other local community groups for volunteering. I think, you will never look back. The companionship, fun, hard work and rewards that come from working in the community are profoundly just incredible. Many times, it will frequently remind you of good times you had with your loved one doing similar things and you can contribute again and have fun in a similar setting. It will bring unexpected source of personal fulfilment as according to Marianne Williamson, “We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present”.

You will hold precious memories of your loved one. Their enriching of our lives remains an integral part of who we are now. We wish to laugh as long as we breath and love as long as we live. There will be still a special place for you in this life and we want to live it to the utmost. 

Personal Perspective

My wish is that you may find your special place and have inner joy, peace and total well being, as you also create new pathways. Always be sure you have fun and laugh a lot on the way, as you build a rewarding life that is uniquely YOU.

ABOUT ME


icgolina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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Christmas without loved-one but friends saves

Christmas means family gathering

Christmas Day well-spent with friends

Have you ever dreamt about having Christmas alone at home without any family members or friends? It can be easy to yes but when the actual day comes, you feel that little bit of loneliness creeping by. It has been my 30 years spending Christmas in Australia, almost 10 years without the loved-ones that has changed my life and families back home. I felt a little lost at first but sadly, I had to come to grasp with it and accept that life is always filled and full of surprises. This doesn’t meant that my celebrations won’t continue, it just meant that adapting to a new way of celebrating the season without family and loved ones.

Living in Australia, a country with many different faiths, however Christmas is still widely celebrated everywhere across the country. Whether they’re believers or not in what it stands for but it is a time for family gatherings around the table and opening those anticipated presents.

As I walk into any shopping centres, it is chaotic and all you hear is the voices of people in search for that perfect present. Christmas carols are heard throughout the shopping complex and yet, I still don’t feel the vide of the festive season approaching. It is a strange feeling and it doesn’t gives me an urge to buy a present for anyone nor either me receiving one.

The stores have been filled with huge range of Christmas trees and decorations and never ending Christmas carols. I haven’t had any second thought of decorating my home, not even my favourite decorations displayed. Leaving the thoughts behind I felt that, it is a much simpler affair with a bottle of whisky instead.

Christmas Day comes, the weather in Cairns is always very unpleasant with warm and humid temperatures which is unbearable for out parties and BBQs. My Christmas eve was quietly spent at home watching DVD’s and relaxing with my beautiful dog “Mindi” running around the lounge chasing each other. To others it may feel strange but to me, it is a very joyous moment to me and many more to come. 

Mindi

Christmas lunch

My Christmas Day morning was spent catching up with family and friends over the phone before heading to my friend’s place for Christmas lunch where I spend the day there. Yes, I was looking forward to a great lunch and the day was to be spent in the pool and relaxing with a good book.

My friends have always been good host to me over the years. John has always been the cook among them and he always puts his heart into a meal. It was going to be entertaining but there will be no crackers, presents, funny jokes or even wearing a silly hat. We will have good old records playing at the same time having the benefit of great views and ocean breezes. 

Our luncheon started off with few drinks before John brought our first course which was absolutely delicious. As I love seafood dishes, this appetiser with the mix of oysters, kilpatrick, prawns and crab meat – all home made, just made the beginning of the day even more worthy to celebrate. This then followed by home-made pumkin soup and roasted lamb ribs and mix vegetables. This was truly an perfect luncheon with good company.

Appetiser: Oysters, prawns and crab meat
Entree: Home-made pumpkin soup
Main: Roasted lamb-ribs and mix vegetables

Christmas Day is done and yes, everyone will be start looking forward to New Year’s Eve. That’s when the city of Cairns really comes alive and even in our sleepy neighbourhoods , the streets are humming with excitement. Most bars and restaurants are flooded with patrons, celebrating with live musics on every corner. The fireworks are amazing and by mid-night, the skies are lit up with colour and the esplanade is crowded with expats, locals and tourists all joining together to ring in the New Year. 

ABOUT ME


icgolina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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Cruising the Trans-Pacific on “Radiance of the Seas”

EXPERIENCE

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Trans-pacific route

The best thing about cruising this route is, you get to visit many amazing islands along the way. Nothing is never the same.

Posted by

akamau

Trans-Pacific Cruise Route

Trans-Pacific cruise in brief

Cruising the Trans-Pacific route on Royal Caribbean Cruise Liner – Radiance of the Seas, offers the ultimate cruise experience. This cruise liner known for its light and airy ambiance, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a nine-storey central atrium, lifts facing the sea and vast expanses of wide, open space. You’ll never be short of a spectacular view aboard this ship.

The cruise offers an amazing mix of experience from visiting beautiful beaches, magnificent views to exquisite cuisine. You get to visit some of the most beautiful countries and exotic islands along the way on this incredible Radiance of the Seas. This vibrant cruise liner provides guests a collection of amenities with more than 15 restaurants and exciting day and nightly entertainments. What a perfect combination to discover paradise and cruise in luxurious style that will remain with you forever.

View of Radiance of the Seas cruise-liner
Radiance of the Seas cruise-liner

Why Go?

Feeling no stranger to cruising but this cruise was the longest I ever done. With the thought of visiting some of the beautiful and exotic islands in the world, was the easiest and friendliest way to see and experience these islands. These was definitely going to be my “holiday in paradise”. Taking time to cruise around these Islands has been on my priority-list for years and seeing the different islands were something exotic, enticing and filled with unexpected surprises that I was going to experience. I wanted to enjoy port stops in Picton and Wellington, where I wanted to experience Maori culture and Marlborough Sounds. Next was to visit French Polynesian Islands, where I would have the opportunity to visit some of the famous and exotic holiday destination in the world – Bora-Bora and Moorea. Then on to Hawaii, Honolulu where I wanted to embrace the spectacular canyons, cliffs and waterfalls. Finally, I would have the opportunity to see the famous Waikiki beach while I sit back with a refreshing beverage and taking photographs of amazing colours and incredible views that lies ahead.

Embarking on a world cruise stuffed with dreams and the reality was even better. Taking this cruise from Sydney, across the Tasman-sea, through Micronesia and the Americas still got shivers down my spine. It was going to be surreal for me that I was going on the cruise that was taking the high seas travel to another level. Dating back in time – traditional, world cruises were used exclusive domain of the wealthy. Today, it is accessible and affordable to suit all cruise travellers.

I board the cruise in Sydney, Australia which is the capital of New South Wales, Vast and populated with high-rise buildings and famous “Bondi” beach, it is a mega touristy destinations for millions of visitors that flood the city annually. As I finally, stepping inside the entrance of the cruise-ship, was more like entering into a sales shopping complex. The cruise crews have a point-of-sale bargaining power, with various departments from speciality restaurants, souvenirs to travel agents and more promoting and selling their products to entice the incoming passengers.

I settled in for an hour or so relaxing and observing everyone, while waiting for the announcement that all cabin-rooms were ready and available. It is normal that in most cruises, within thirty to sixty minutes or even more, it is chaotic as most of the passengers are rushing off in all directions. The hallways and lifts become over-crowded and rowdy as they try to figure out where to go. Having experienced that “mad-rush” in my past cruises, it was wise for me to sit and relax with a cup of tea while waiting for the mad-rush to cease. Finally, I made my way to my cabin and what a surprise it was – A big surprise that I didn’t saw it coming, a $100 voucher from my travel-agent.  

Voucher from my Travel Agent

After few minutes of making myself comfortable and familiar with the cabin, I ventured off to explore the ship further. Whenever, boarding a cruise-liner, it is wise to explore the ship randomly to make yourself familiar with few major areas includes: main dining and promenade areas, top deck, swimming pool area, main theatre and guest service centre, whilst the rest of the other areas can be known during the cruise. I made myself familiar with the ship quickly before we slowly depart Sydney cruise terminal as it began to get dark. What a thrill to be leaving at this time, as we saw the city lights began to appear in its glory and brighten the city, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It was just spectacular and magical to see the city lights by night from my private balcony. Sydney is undoubtedly one of the major mega cities in Australia. It has the highest number of Australia’s population living there and a very popular destination for millions of visitors worldwide. It is one of the “must-visit” city for visitors to Australia.

Harbour Bridge by Day
Sydney Harbour Bridge by Night
Opera House by Day
Opera House by Night

As we headed out into the open sea, venturing through Sydney’s famous heads, we cruised north along Australia’s east coast, navigating across the Tasman Sea for five nights on sea before reaching New Zealand waters to our first maiden call at Picton. This picturesque seaside town of Picton in the Marlborough Region of New Zealand’s South Island is the base for the service that links the main island of New Zealand and the heart of the Marlborough Sounds.

Picton Waterfront

From Picton, we headed to Wellington, capital of New Zealand. Wellington city, known as “Windy Wellington”. It is a compact city and compasses a waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour and colourful timber houses on surrounding hills. 

View of Wellington city from Mt Victoria

After leaving Kiwi’s capital, we spent five nights on sea, crossing the International Dateline to reached the exotic island of Papeete, capital of Tahiti located in French Polynesian group of islands for two days. Tahiti enjoys an incredible tropical landscape mountains, including beautiful sandy beaches to relax on. What a thrilling place this is. Pristine waters and lagoons, haven for thousands of dolphins makes it a perfect open-sea aquarium. What a sight to see.

View of Papeete, Tahiti

From Papeete, we headed to Moorea, a tiny island, just few kilometres from the main island of Tahiti. Moorea, once a little sleepy island is now visited by many western tourists because of its pristine stunning scenery. With untouched wilderness and minimal tourism activity, makes it one of the hidden world to be explored.

Pristine Moorea

After a short over-night cruise on the sea, we reached our final group of Polynesian island destination of Bora-Bora. This tiny island located on the northwest of Tahiti is surrounded by sand-fringed motus (islets) and a turquoise lagoon protected by a coral reef. It is a popular luxury resort destination where some guest bungalows are perched over the water on stilts., making it one of the most beautiful, expensive and exotic holiday destination in the world. Setting foot on this, I felt that I was in a different world. So calm, quiet and undisturbed.

Relaxing in Bora Bora waters

Leaving the waters of French Polynesia, we cruised the famed North Pacific Ocean route to Honolulu, Oahu, capital of Hawaii. This island city is part of U.S. state and is the 50th and most recent state to joined the United States of American in August 21, 1959. Hawaii, famed for its stunning and beautiful beaches certainly lives up to its standard. It is truly an incredible place to be, as you enjoy the sun, sand and sea.

Radiance of the Seas Onboard Experiences

Dinning and Bars

All cruise-liners have different layout and features which makes it more attractive for the passengers to enjoy as they make it their home for weeks and even months. I began to explore more of this ship. Aboard this cruise-liner, the Main Dining Room has a stunning two-level restaurant which has a sophisticated ambiance and features a grand staircase. Here you can choose between an early or late sitting for dinner, or elect to take up Royal Caribbean’s flexible “My Time Dining” option.

For breakfast and lunch, you can sit anywhere you like in the Main Dining Room. Other complimentary dining venues include the ever-popular Windjammer Cafe – a buffet-style restaurant that is open at many times during the day. The cruise-liner also offers variety of favourites too, such as the Italian trattoria Giovanni’s Table, Japanese restaurant Izumi, Samba Grill – Brazilian style and the Chef’s Table private dining experience, in which five delectable courses are matched with the finest international wines. 

In all cruises, bars are major attractions for passengers to mingle with other travellers. Aboard this ship, there are variety style of bars. Bars include the Quill & Compass, a traditional English-style pub; the Colony Club, with self-levelling pool tables; the intimate and classy Champagne Bar; the Schooner Bar and many more.

Main Dining Room
Chef’s Table private dining

Activities

Like all mega cruises, there is no shortage of things to do aboard the Radiance of the Seas and there is something to do for everyone. If you’re up for some high adventure, the rock-climbing wall beckons. If golf is more your kind of sport, mini-golf course is there for when you feel like a game. For those who love shopping, fancy browsing through the latest fashion, jewellery, accessories or beauty products by premium designer brands. You can get your retail fix at the Royal Shops. If you want to cosy up with a good book, the quiet library has the feel of a classic English study. Whether you like action or your favourite activity is reclining on a deck chair by the pool, there is plenty to keep enthralled onboard.

Fitness and Well-Being

Once onboard the cruise, it is not all about food and drinks but you will find myriad ways to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit aboard this cruise-liner with Vitality Spa and Fitness. Located on Deck 11, the Vitality Fitness Centre features the very latest exercise equipment as well as a variety of fitness classes including yoga and Tai Chi. For well-being of a different kind, you can go to Vitality on Deck 11 where you can treat yourself to a choice of over 100 treatments including massages, wraps, facials and hair and nail treatments. For walking and jogging, there is a track that loops around the sports deck if you feel like taking in the fresh air, and is divided in half so that runners and walkers can exercise at their own pace.

Shows and Nightlife

Aboard the cruise, there is endless list of shows and nightlife just get better as the cruise goes on. Yes, you have the choice of: Movies by the pool? Blackjack in the Casino Royale? Dinner and a show? There is plenty of evening entertainment aboard the cruise, all designed to help you have the most incredible holiday. In the ritzy Casino Royale, live out the dream of a Monte Carlo lifestyle as you sip champagne and play the game of chance on any one of the slot machines and tables. If Broadway-style shows are your thing, settle into the three-storey Main Theatre and prepare to be wowed by world-class entertainers. Outdoors, the huge poolside movie screen shows new releases day and night.

With the endless list fun activities from live shows and music to comedies and fun games will never get you bored once onboard. It is the cruising way of life on sea. From what you see and experience is the whole package of wonderful memories you will take home. The finally outdoor party on the top deck certainly will send you away packing with amazing cruise experience. What a fun, what a thrill it is and what a way to end your cruise. 

Party Time on board

Offshore attraction

While on cruise, the offshore attractions are endless on every island destination visited. As cruise-liners are aware of every islands major attractions, they offer variety of official excursions on what there to see and do in every port visited. To gain a better experience of each port of call, the best option is to do both official and non-official guided tours. This means that it can be cheaper and do things in your own phase.

ABOUT ME


ic.golina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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The street with no name is where my home is…

HOME


Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered – Wes Angelozzi.

People without a home

People without home is not a recent dilemma. It is one of the major problems faced by many countries globally and it is continuing to grow. I have documented many people living on the streets during my travels. Many times on the outskirts of Cairns city streets and parks, I have come in contact with many people from all different ethnic backgrounds. They have one thing in common – They’re all homeless people.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS) shows that the number of homeless people in Australia have increased dramatically over the last five years. It is certainly that Cairns is no stranger to this homeless epidemic. According to the city of Cairns figures, number of people sleeping rough in Cairns have gone up 75 percent in the past two years. It is a dark, deep hidden world that is circulating right beneath our surface.

On my many visits to this homeless community, I have chatted with many homeless people on regular basis and there are others that I chat once and never see again. With no judgement, I presume they have moved on to a different location depending on their need within the homeless community social structure. They may have simply found a better home but it is very unlikely to be the case. I not only chat with them but I bring them food and clothing depending on how we carried out our conversation the evening before.

Am I doing good or wasting my time, is the question that can be controversial for many people to answer depending on how they view their own world. For me, nor am doing good or wasting my time. There are many people out there who are homeless whether it is by choice or not but it is the social interaction that I treasure more. Many homeless people feel lovely because of the way the society looks at them, according to many I have spoken with.

Living in Cairns, one of the most beautiful cities in Australia is a city that is flooded with millions of visitors each year. It has one of the Natural Wonders of the World on its doorstep – The Great Barrier Reef. Many visitors throughout the world come to the area to see the reef and tick it off their bucket-list. With thousands of visitors flogging the area, in the evenings along the esplanade, the waterfront footpath from the south of the esplanade to the north becomes a sea of people with tourists and locals. It is heavily used by people for exercise and those who just have a relaxing afternoon strolling along the waterfront before retiring. 

Taking a drive along the Cairns esplanade in the afternoon after work has become part of my normal evening ritual. It is pleasantly beautiful and relaxing atmosphere. I came across a homeless person who was feeding the wild pigeons at the same spot everyday. I took time to have a chat with him and listen to what he had to say irrespective of things that I didn’t agree or approved. I continued to listen to him attentively without any disagreement remarks. One of the things I have learnt over the years is that people who live alone and do not have any other social interaction, it is very important to be a good listener and agree with their views. This is a vulnerable time where they spit out their emotions and frustrations.

John who call himself and wants to be known as “Jungle John” is no stranger to living on the streets. He is homeless and lives on his old customised van the he calls “Home”. He is not a drug addict, not an alcoholic, not a gambler and has no diagnosed mental illness, but he is homeless. 

After having few conversation, he began to open up more about himself. He had a decorated career. He spent many years working both overseas and in Australia during his work years. He mainly worked up in the Gulf country – Northern Territory and Northern tip of Australian communities and mines. He had a family and a home in and around Atherton, Tablelands until his wife passed away and his children moved out of the family home and moved interstate for jobs. He sadly continued to state that this was the moment he never saw it coming. He was lonely and didn’t like the idea of paying electricity, rates and other expenses which were costing him a lot.

He decided, it was time to live on his customised van moving in and around from south to Townsville, north to Cooktown and west to Tablelands. He had lived this lifestyle for many years and wouldn’t go back to live in a permanent block home. He tried it once before but he still slept on the floor with the mattress, even though the comfortable bed was right next to him. He was terrified of using stoves, micro-oven and other modern equipments in the house. He said, the transition process of getting back to normal (as we call it) may be over. He is getting old and he is happy where he is now and taking pride in feeding this wild pigeons on daily basis as we continued our conversation.

As I listened to his story, I began to question myself. This is no different to what I hear from passengers that travel on the train but from different level of lifestyle. Many people that I spoke to sold their homes and live on their luxury camper-vans travelling around Australia following the sun. Many others have been travelling for 15-30 years without permanent homes while others are more adventurous and have enough finance to travel around the world with their cars being shipped to each destination. For John, he probably didn’t have enough cash to live on a luxury camper-van. This was the only way he could afford to live the lifestyle that he enjoys.

After having a cup of tea in his old enamel cup, I drove home thinking about John’s life journey. People might say, he choose to live this way and he is not homeless but to me, he is homeless as he didn’t choose live the way he is living now. The fact is that, he was driven out by both internal and external factors: the death of his wife which is uncontrollable, children leaving home leading to his loneliness and high cost of living – bills he couldn’t afford to pay.

Yes, anecdotal evidence from the Guardian-society suggests that the homeless demographic is changing: increasingly drugs and mental illness are not the sole drivers. Instead, the sheer un-affordability of housing and family violence is pushing people onto the street.

From Personal Perspective: I have learnt that I am not here to judge others and what I don’t want to be judged by others or similarly, do not judge a book by its cover. To me, little by little as we began to interact and understand why they do what they do, things become a little clearer to us little by little.

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