Aiyahuuuuuu!

Every year when March comes along, the DWU Community prepares to host one of its major events – the DWU Graduation Ceremony! This year was the first time the annual event was held during the weekday – on Friday and it didn’t disappoint. All the graduands were in their full regalia and every did their best to dress and look well.

I guess I have attended a few of these DWU graduations and seem to know the general layout and proceedings of the day. Everyone would be seated and listen to speeches, wait their turn and then receive their certificates – whatever level that may be. A few graduated with Diplomas, Masters and even one person received a Doctoral degree but I believe the majority were Bachelor level graduands. I guess graduations are also times when emotions are high as well. Many feel elated, triumphant and even relieved after completing a number of years of schooling and more importantly, overcoming financial difficulties associated with getting a university qualification.

On attending a few of the graduation events at DWU, I am beginning to observe a particular phenomenon that is happening and becoming more prevalent each year – it is the way people express their jubilation or triumph or satisfaction when their family, or relative’s name is called by the Master or Mistress of Ceremony. There is this shout by an individual in among the crowd of onlookers, most often by a female, that is heard although out the entire arena.

Academic staff getting ready to enter the graduation arena
Academics being led into the arena by a dancing group
The graduands are seated with their full academic regalia
Parents, relatives, supporters, family and friends gather to witness the occassion
I did a a YouTube Short with some videos and photos I took during the ceremony.
Academic staff and invited guests speak to the students
After the graduation, two students meet with their former academic staff – Mr. Samson Papapu who taught in the Health Management and Systems Development Department
Some of the many students who graduated today

This shout: ‘Aiyahuuuuuuu’ which I believed is predominantly from the Chimbu province of PNG (someone can correct me on this) and from a female is often seen as something symbolic rather than an expression. In my mind, I often feel this shout is often felt deep within a person but due to a lack of verbal elicitation of that feeling, it just rolls out of the mouth like a cross between a ‘sigh’ and a ‘rainbow’. Does that make sense? Well, that’s how I feel about that shout.

When this is shouted by someone in the crowd, there is no discrimination or taunts or shushing. People keep quiet and listen to this shout as it echoes throughout the floor of the ceremony . It is expected and I believe, appreciated. Why do I say appreciated? Because when you listen to that shout ‘Aiyahuuuuuu’ it feels like someone is saying: ‘After all these years…after all the hard work…after all the financial difficulties, my child or son or daughter has finally made it. They have graduated from University.” During that shout, the voice quivers and people in the crowd feel the weight of the emotion of the person who has shouted. I’m beginning to think that this is a unique situation that happens only in PNG school graduations these days.

Other onlookers or supporters of graduating students may not shout ‘Aiyahuuuuuuu’ but they still make some noise to let others know about how they feel about their family member or relative who is walking up to receive his or her certificate on stage. I have heard: ‘Em sister blong mi ya!’ and ‘Yes em tasol yah’ and even ‘Pawa-fuuulll yah!’ which shares the same sort of emotion as the ‘Aiyahuuuuu’ but not as poignant. While these shouts of expression are welcomed, I often feel they fall along the lines of making, those whose names are being called to be seen as ‘individuals’ whereas the ‘Ayahuuuu’ is more like an announcement to others of someone ‘overcoming’ challenges and the weight being lifted off their shoulders.

So the next time you hear a lady among the graduation crowd shouting ‘Aiyahuuuuu’ just be quiet, appreciate the moment and enjoy the graduation ceremony!

Newspapers in PNG can reduce sports gambling among young people

Gambling in many countries is often thought of as a form of entertainment, characterized by betting or wagering something valuable or financial such as money (WHO, 2024). The furthest I have delved into gambling may have been playing Bingo when I was in the village over the Christmas holidays. But believe me when I say that gambling has risen in Papua New Guinea especially among vulnerable groups such as young people (ABC Pacific, 2023).

Young people in PNG may take up online gambling using their hard earn cash and loose

Casino gambling came into the scene through the passing by PNG Parliament of the Gaming Control Bill 2007 that allows casinos and internet gambling in PNG (Rayel et al., 2016). Over the years, as internet became easily accessible, Papua New Guineans began to take up online gambling with some ordinary punters loosing up to K1000 (US$300) in a year on Australian National Rugby League betting application NRL 365 (ABC Pacific, 2023). In Australia, around 80,000 to 160,000 Australians experience problem or addictive gambling which includes a range of negative social outcomes such as criminality, housing instability, relationship problems, financial difficulties such as indebtedness, and domestic violence (Miller et al., 2014). This might be happening in PNG too though there is little research being done on this. In Australia, younger men are most at risk of falling into gambling because they are more exposed to sports betting normalisation processes such advertising during NRL games on TV or on social media platforms during sports updates (Seal et al., 2022).

However, the media can be an avenue to call out addictive gambling especially newspapers which can help vulnerable groups such as young people. Firstly, Miller et al, noted that newspapers should frame stories around gambling by including the voices of problem gamblers. While these problem gamblers might be reluctant to share their stories, at least the story begins the debate around reducing the addictive nature of gambling. Journalists have a responsibility to reduce gambling in our communities by finding problem gamblers or reformed gamblers and doing their stories. Secondly, another way to tackle problem gambling is to combat it with advertising. There is already evidence that advertising leads to increased risk of gambling (McGrane et al., 2023) so newspapers must turn this around by using advertisements again to reduce addictive gambling patterns by providing strategies such as setting personal limits for betting (ABC Pacific, 2023). Who will foot the advertising bill? Miller et al (2014), pointed out that there must be collaboration between the media and health organizations to develop ways to financially back advertising against gambling.

Newspapers in our country such as the Post Courier and The National can play a huge role in reducing gambling among vulnerable groups such as young people.

So personally, I believe that if you have never tried online gambling, do not try it as it can become addictive and lead to social and health problems for you down the line. Even if you already began sports betting, seek to set a limit for bets or never bet more than you can lose. The PNG Government must also see this as a rising problem and find ways to address this before many more social and health problems arise.

References

ABC Pacific. (2023). Online sports betting is on the rise in Papua New Guinea, but experts warn of risks associated with gambling. https://www.abc.net.au/pacific/programs/pacificbeat/png-gambling/102006846

McGrane, E., Wardle, H., Clowes, M., Blank, L., Pryce, R., Field, M., Sharpe, C., & Goyder, E. (2023). What is the evidence that advertising policies could have an impact on gambling-related harms? A systematic umbrella review of the literature. Public Health, 215, 124–130. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2022.11.019

Miller, H. E., Thomas, S. L., Robinson, P., & Daube, M. (2014). How the causes, consequences and solutions for problem gambling are reported in Australian newspapers: A qualitative content analysis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 38(6), 529–535. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12251

Rayel, J., Manohar, P., Atu, I., & Raka, R. (2016). Gambling Tourism in PNG- A Grace or a Curse?: Implications of the Proposed Casino Gambling as Perceived by the Community. https://devpolicy.org/Events/2016/PNG-Update/4c_Rayel.pdf

Seal, E., Cardak, B. A., Nicholson, M., Donaldson, A., O’Halloran, P., Randle, E., & Staley, K. (2022). The Gambling Behaviour and Attitudes to Sports Betting of Sports Fans. In Journal of Gambling Studies (Vol. 38, Issue 4). Springer US. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-021-10101-7

WHO. (2024). Addictive Behaiours: Overview. Addictive Behaviours. https://www.who.int/health-topics/addictive-behaviour#tab=tab_1

Intersections in life…

Saw this solar street light at the ‘Three-ways’ market in the village. In 2022, when I was at home, I saw that some of the boys where trying to put it up. But now when I come back, I see that it is already up and shines during the evenings.

Next to the light pole is the ‘three ways’ market. There is a small market stall there that is the center point for three pathways that intersect – going west to Derimbat village, going east to Lowa village and then going inland all the way to Pundru and Kari villages.

Sometimes, when you reach intersections in your life, you need to remember to let God be the light of your journey.

Video editing is hard work

So today I was given the opportunity to learn about using Adobe Premier Pro to edit a short video.

Most of the time that I have been editing videos, I have been shooting on the mobile phone and then using a mobile phone video editing software to edit and then produce the video. But today was different. I had already shot a couple of clips of an event last week. I had wanted to edit it on my mobile phone but I knew I had to try something different.

So today, I begin editing on Adobe Premier Pro. I think sometimes when beginners look at the panels on the editing plane, they kind of freak out. Where do I start? Which button do I press? Where do I click to upload why video clips? Those are questions that any video editor asks. I had the same feeling too. But the plan on self learning has always been to go to Youtube to learn from others. Thats the wonderful thing about YouTube. You can type the subject or the specific instruction and believe me, there is always someone out there who has covered it and has shared his/her knowledge through a video on the Youtube site.

So since lunch time today till this evening, I have been constantly swapping screens with YouTube and Adobe Premier Pro. I’m learning so much. Through this process, I have identified some mistakes that I have done when shooting like making sure my video shooting mode and photo shooting mode are the same. Or that sound and lighting still are important aspects of shooting because it will really help you when you are editing video and sound clips as well.

This is the panel on the editing plane of the Adobe Premier Pro dashboard.
This is what the editing dashboard on the Adobe Premier Pro looks like. As you can see, I am editing a short video using this software.

So Im hoping I complete the story and can share it online on my YouTube Channel. See you later.

Just another day at the beach

Some days are not so good and some days are better than most. Its just how things are. You struggle through work or business or family but sometimes, you have to have time to yourself. Taking time out is important for the mind and for the soul as well. Even calm days at the seaside can do you a world of good. On the weekend, the kids and I went down to the beach to have a swim.

Using my Samsung A52s mobile phone, I shot a few short video clips, mostly 10 seconds long, of different angles. I took this by just mostly holding the phone still in a landscape position after pressing the record button. I took a few pan shots by moving the phone upwards to show distance close to far and moving the phone sideways to show a breadth of the view. After I came home in the evening, I sat down to edit the video. Using Capcut, a simple video editing software, I was able to stitch together the videos on the app’s timeline then applied the same transition along the various video clips. During the editing process, I made sure that each video was 2.8 seconds long. Eventually, the finished product was around 31 seconds long.

Here is the finished product:

Protecting the freedom of expression: DWU Media Freedom Day 2023

Each year on May 5th, Divine Word University recognises the role of media freedom and the challenging work of journalists in maintaining the 4th estate. While the day, internationally, falls on 3rd May each year, DWU does their university event on the 5th. This year’s international Media Freedom Day theme was: Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights.

Staff and students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science attend the Media Freedom Day event at the SVD Memorial Auditorium.
Staff and students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science attend the Media Freedom Day event at the SVD Memorial Auditorium.

Focussing on the freedom of expression as key driver for all other human rights, this year’s theme is more relevant to the role of the media, particularly for a thriving democracy such as Papua New Guinea. Even more so, this year the spotlight be shone on the way the government of Papua New Guinea is embarking on steps to create legislation on media. Some, such as one of PNG’s more prominent journalist Mr. Scott Waide, have suggested the proposed legislation could lead to control on the PNG media. Even the Transparency International PNG called for more wider consultation from the public regarding this proposed legislation

On Friday 5th May, 2023, the Department of Communication Arts in the Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FASS), hosted the 2023 Media Freedom Day at its Madang campus. Its own President Fr. Philip Gibbs kicked off proceedings with a short and powerful speech. I really liked what he said about freedom of expression and how the DWU environment provides the room for students to be able to freely express themselves. He also pointed to the DWU Charter, written by the founders of the University 46 years ago, which upheld the key characteristic of authentic freedom.

The Transparency International PNG had its Deputy Director of Communications, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick talk about the role of the community organisation and its work in PNG. She said that events such as the Media Freedom Day should be used by the communities and the world to remind the Government of their commitments to freedom of the media and its role as the 4th estate.

She said: “In democratic countries like our country, the media becomes a tool for accountability. In Papua New Guinea, where Governments may be lacking or weak, the media’s work becomes crucial because it helps us hold our Government or people in power accountable for the decisions that they make.”

One of PNG’s most prominent and well known journalists, Mr. Scott Waide was also present on the day. Having been a graduate of this university, he has been invited to speak to DWU students in different faculties numerous times. During the Media Freedom Day, he spoke about the role of the media and the need for citizens to act upon information they received from the work of the media.

“if the media has done its job and everything it is supposed to do and if the people who receive this information, do not act on it, then we fail as a country. The media can do its job but if people don’t take this information that is given to them…the education that is given to them and act on it, meaning exercising your rights at the polls or speaking out when its needed, then the media is really ineffective in a democracy.

This year, the Divine Word University was excited to have the presence of the United Nations Resident Coordinator to PNG, His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior to address the DWU Community at the Madang campus. He addressed staff, students, invited guests and visitors at the gathering citing the theme. I particularly liked his take on society having a strong foundation that would give rise to the freedom of expression

He said: “Now several things are needed to be in place to make sure we do have freedom of expression. In any society we need a legal and regulatory environment that allows for open, pluralistic media sector to emerge. So we need the right policies, regulations in place. We need to make sure that once they are in place..they stay in place.

“We need the political will to support this sector so we need to make sure we elect the right kind of leaders that are going to continue to protect our right to speak freely. Then we need the literacy skills among consumers of knowledge,” he said.

After the speeches, the three guests we invited to form a panel of experts and take questions from the audience. This was a fulfilling and enlightening part as the audience got to listen to various perspectives, experiences and views on topics relating to the theme and journalism in general.

The three panelists at the Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023 - His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick and Mr. Scott Waide.
The three panelists at the Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023 – His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick and Mr. Scott Waide.
Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023
Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023
Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023

The event ended at 12.30pm and then the guests were given a tour of the Communication Arts rooms/spaces in the faculty building.

The students and staff of the Communication Arts Department of Divine Word University pose with His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick and Mr. Scott Waide at the end of the university event.
The students and staff of the Communication Arts Department of Divine Word University pose with His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick and Mr. Scott Waide at the end of the university event.

DWU Open Day 2023 a hit!

There is something about Divine Word University and its university mandated events! All throughout the year, the university events such as the Graduation, Cultural Day, Missioning, Media Freedom Day, etc have been the opportunity to showcase the cherry on the cake, so to speak – the students. They’ve been at the backend, forefront, leading and managing these university events for a long time. Ask anyone who has passed out from the university an they will tell you, the university events have been the place where students get to experience the best times of their lives. Well, most times. Other times, it’s just a group of dedicated students who lead and manage the rest to bring everything together.

One of these events has been the DWU Open Day. Although it has been an annual event, since COVID arrived in 2020, the event has moved online. However, this year, the event came out of its online status and ran for a full day on the Madang Campus, utlizing the John Paul Hall. The students rose to the occasion and produced a magnificent day on the 14th of May. They came up with ideas on what to display, worked around the clock and brought to life their work. I tried to capture the day through photos but I just couldn’t cover everything. I just produced a short video dedicated to the day.

The Faculty of Business and Informatics won the first place shield as judged by a handful of selected individuals. They really did match the judging criteria and worked as a team to pull of the winning edge in comparison to the other faculties on the day. Congratulations!!!!

Analyzing qualitative research data

Sharing something to assist those up and coming researchers….

When you have collected your research data, the next step in the research process is Data Analysis. One of the first key steps to do is to organise your data first before you can begin the rest of the data analysis process. So this first step involves coding the data. So for me, my data is qualitative (interviews) so I have transcribed (converted audio to written text) the interview and now can begin coding. While many do this manually (using MS Word or print copies of their transcripts), I’m doing mine using a software. There are paid versions out there online and there are also free versions of software online too. This picture below is the face of a free software that is online. You can find some more of them through Google and then later watch YouTube tutorials to teach yourself how to do it just like what I am doing.

As you can see from the picture, the transcribed text is in the middle, while my codes are listed on the left. Every time I read something in the transcript, I code it and its appears on the left. On the right is where the software begins to assist me visualize the connections between the codes thus helping me categorize and develop my themes. It’s a work in progress but its something that I hope to master. Of course, the software is free online so anyone can use it.

I just wanted to share this to say that sometimes when we as Papua New Guineans cannot afford to pay for lessons or go to school, you can always teach yourself how to do things if you spend time finding the good things online on the Internet and use it to solve the issues you may be faced with.

Stumbling onto a delicious fortified food in Lorengau

Recently, I came to know of a biscuit known as the Start Smart Breakfast Biscuit. I was in Lorengau town and went to the shop located at the old Manus Sports Club which is at the back of the Habourside Hotel. As I was looking through the shelves for biscuits, I saw this bright yellow but small packet of biscuit. It cost K1.20 for one packet. It had, on its label, ‘fortified with essential vitamins’ which I saw was Vitamin A, B6 and B12.

The small packet of biscuit fits snugly into the palm of my hand

Now this biscuit is an example of a fortified food. A fortified food is a food that is enriched by adding necessary vitamins into the food so that certain people in the general population can have access to this very important Vitamins. For example, Goiter, which is the irregular growth of the thyroid gland, comes from a lack of iodine in the body. To combat this problem, researchers and public health officials decided that when table salt is produced in a factory, iodine is added so that when the general population has access to this iodized salt, it reduces the number of people who may suffer from goiter. Another example is that of rice fortification where the process of adding micronutrients like iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 can increase the nutritional value of rice and prevent anemia, which is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues.

Now for the smart biscuits, I noticed that it was fortified with Vitamin A. In PNG vitamin A is given through immunisation clinics. However, once the immunisation schedule has completed, many children tend not to attend well baby clinics, which reduces the uptake of vitamin A supplementation. Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) is associated with impaired vision, permanent loss of sight, and an increased risk of infection and death from infectious diseases, including measles that can persist throughout the lifecycle. VAD is severe problem among children 6 – 59 months. The prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in children aged 6 – 59 months is 25.6%, which is a considered severe public health problem. The only other data available for VAD is among non-pregnant women aged 15 – 49 years where the prevalence of VAD is 0.7% (National Department of Health 2005).

So this packet has 8 small square shaped biscuits and they are very sweet. I later found out that this shop at the old Manus Sports Club is the only shop in Lorengau and Manus that sells this product. This biscuit is produced in the country by Paradise Foods Limited. I am not sure if K1.20 is the same price everywhere around the country but it seems to be a good price for such a fortified food. It is essential that young growing children have access to these foods such as this Start Smart Biscuits.

The Papua New Guinea National Nutrition Policy 2016-2026 supports the fortification of foods in our country. However, the lack of strong research into food and nutrition is still lacking in this country and enforcement of such policies are still lacking. I also hope that those who are elected into PNG’s next parliament focus on leading appropriate national agencies in implementing key strategies found in the national policy. Its even sadder to know that none of our universities have a specific Diploma or Bachelor or Postgraduate program in Nutrition or Dietetics including the management of nutrition programs!

Try this fortified food today!

The life we live

Travelling on a outboard motor to Lorengau with other passengers

This is the life we live.

Travelling by boat from the village to Lorengau takes about 45 minutes but is a costly exercise. This one way trip costs the boat owner between K90 to K120 just to buy fuel. If he takes passengers, it reduces his burden. All of us, as passengers on the boat, have to fork out K20 individually for the one way trip into town. Then we put up another K20 for the trip back home in the afternoon. Other Manusians from villages much further away from Lorengau just cannot afford to have passenger travel. It’s just not economical. One would have to pay K50 or even K100 for a one way trip into Lorengau. Some places that are 2 hours from Lorengau cost a boat owner K500 for a one way trip into town.

Villages much further away from Lorengau have a high fuel burden.

So how do those who are far away, travel in to Lorengau? The villagers either wait until a businessman or government worker (a teacher or health worker) wants to travel into town and then they can contribute fuel (a 4 litre costs around K30) so they can travel or when a relative goes into town, everybody gives their shopping list, letters and request to that one person. Other times when there are movements of large groups of people such as school term breaks, customary obligations or deaths, these events give rise to travel. Apart from these events, it is quite difficult to travel due to the high cost of travel.

This fuel burden or travel cost then trickles down to affect everyday living. When fuel costs are high, people don’t move. The supply of food items decreases and the demand increases leading to increasing costs of these items. Other things like essential medicines are delayed and even a reduction in the cash flow in the village, etc. Life, in general becomes difficult. How do Manusians counter this burden? Like what they have been doing for years – they live off the land. The hunt, gather, plant, harvest, fish and work in groups to meet their basic needs. But that lifestyle too has its limitations as activities in living off the land have cost components as well. For example, a man may decide to make his garden bigger but he needs a better file for his knife. Another way, is the practice of remittances. Many Manusians living outside of the province, send money back to their relatives at home.

Manus is often seen a ‘beautiful place’ physically but the high fuel burden contributes to poor access to services such as health and education.

Will this fuel burden slow down in the future? It seems unlikely. External national forces continue to work in such a way as to increase the cost of fuel rather than decrease it. For instance, COVID-19 drove up prices and limited trade at the local level. The country lost money through the UBS loan scheme and even corruption and mismanagement in national government departments have contributed to hindering progress. But is it all doom and gloom in the future? I hope not because when problems arise, innovation arises as well. I hope the answer to the problem lies in electric rechargeable motors – ones that don’t use non-renewable fossil fuels but those that rely on solar energy. Electric cars are already a reality and soon, I’m hoping, it will be electric outboard motors.

In the meantime, for us Manusians, this is the life we live….