Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kubin and St Pauls

We returned today from a fascinating clinic visit to Kubin and St Pauls. These are 2 villages on the opposite ends of Moa island, North of Thursday. Kubin was the original settlement. They generously allowed St Pauls to be set up on their land, apparently (though I don't know if this is generous as in "we'll let you live on it" or as in "we've been conned out of it by the whitefellas" which has certainly happened elsewhere in Oz). Anyway, apparently Moa Island was the holding island for Pacific Islanders after being taken from their homes and taken to farm sugar cane in Queensland. When the war (perhaps WWI?) broke out, the sugar cane farming collapsed and all effort was turned to the war. The pacific islanders went back to Moa and St Pauls was set up by the London Missionary Association to house them. The two communities are very different, therefore.

The flight over was beautiful. It's only a short trip, so we flew low and could see schools of turtles swimming over the coral. (Imogen insists she saw a couple of whales on the way back, too!)

Kubin clinic is a fabulous primary health care centre - if the doctors reading this could see it, they might be quite jealous! Very well designed, very well equipped. We stayed in a flat above the clinic. We would have stayed at St Pauls, which has an even bigger house attached, but the power was off for 2 days - no fans, no computers, no lights, no air conditioning. Whcih meant no doctor! I did the doctors clinic as planned today.

The clinics were interesting, though not too busy. There was a community meeting on in Kubin (I think to announce a recent death) and everyone was preparing for a tombstone opening ceremony in St Pauls. This is the grand finale to a funeral, where the whole community celebrates by opening the tomb. Deaths here are real community events (unfortunately, the high mortality rate means they happen much more frequently than they should.)

I did the clinics, and Jo had the children, who were befriended by the local island children. There was a beautiful secluded beach by the jetty, and from the jetty you could see schools of small sardines and large fish chansing them.
We also went to the local art gallery. It was opened especially for us by one of the local artists called Billy Missy, and we bought some of his artwork, because it's beautiful. (He also sold Jo some Crayfish he bought the day before, but then forgot to give it to us! Never mind. We were also given some home-made mango pickle by the nurse at St Pauls.)
And now we're back on TI, and the wind is blowing and it's raining. Rather lovely, actually.

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