10 days away.
10 days to spend with family. 240 hours left being in the same country as Dan. One more chance to see my nephew as a two-year-old. And then I will be 4447 kilometres away from home, forging a new chapter in my life.
To be completely frank, I'm absolutely terrified. And strangely, not of what I will find once I get to Buka, but rather of leaving those I love behind. Of course I will be back before I know it, and of course it's the initial departure that is the hardest. But that doesn't negate the fact that leaving my family and Dan and friends intermittently feels like a knife in my stomach.
However...while I can admit the difficulty in leaving, there are many things to look forward to. I'm excited to miss the Wellington winter and live in perpetual summer for the next year. I'm excited to learn a new language and participate in a new culture. I'm excited to cook new foods and explore new places. I think the thing I am most excited about is being in a place so rich with history, in which trust and reconciliation are being rebuilt each day by people determined to create a safe and peaceful future. The Bougainvillean Civil War killed up to 20,000 people, roughly 8.5% of the population, and created deep divides between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, as well as within the small island community itself.
|Kids hang around a PMG (Peace Monitoring Group) vehicle during reconciliation ceremony, Bougainville, PNG 1999. Photo: Ben Bohane / wakaphotos.com|
The archival project I will be working on in the Division of Media and Communications for the ABG aims to restore and record historical documents from the conflict period, as well as assisting the digitisation of government records in Bougainville. Hopefully, increased efficiency in records management will contribute to good governance in the region, resulting in more effective government services to the community as well as in the lead-up to the impending referendum for independence from Papua New Guinea. While archives can sound dull to some people, I think that this particular context makes it actually pretty fascinating!
Having said all this, I don't even have the details for my itinerary yet. I am picking my contract up on Tuesday, and will have my flight details by then hopefully. I will be leaving Wellington on 1 March to go home to Auckland until I fly out. Stay tuned for the journey ahead... 10 more days!