Friday, 22 May 2015

Year of the House

Having grown up in church-owned housing and rented my way through a number of houses as an adult, the great Aussie dream of home ownership has always been just that, a dream. This year though, that has changed.

Recently I was given a house in Ukarumpa.
My new Ukarumpa home.

This is our ‘company town’ in the Highlands where I am based when not living in a village situation. It is my base of professional support, personal friendships and ex-pat belonging. It is a town with a complex identity that means different things to different people, but for me it is one of my PNG homes. It is also now a place where I own a home.

Robyn (Aussie) came to PNG in 1987 and Lisbeth (Swede) arrived in 1986. Together they worked with the Ramoaaina people of the Duke of York Island near Rabaul, dedicating the Ramoaaina New Testament in 2007. They continue to work in that region, supporting the Ramoaaina Old Testament translation as well as the Label, Kandas and Fanamaket New Testament translation teams from nearby New Ireland Province.

Previously, they too were Ukarumpa based, coming and going to the Islands. These days they are Kokopo based and no longer need their Ukarumpa house. Some people sell their home, but they decided to give theirs away. It is a cosy little home, with three bedrooms, office, living room, kitchen and shed. At the moment I live here alone, but may end up sharing with another single woman either long or short term.

At the same time as moving into my Ukarumpa home, I have been getting ready to go to the village, where I am in the process of building a house. Land has been set aside and posts and bearers have already been installed. I am bringing a solar power system with me, and water tanks and some tin roofing for water catchment are on order. Nails, hinges and a saw are among the items I’m providing to assist in the building effort.

An Ubuo house (not mine) under construction (D.Petterson)
So it is that this year will probably end up with me having two homes to call my own! While I have been given one house and am buying nails to build another, my sister has gone through a mountain of paperwork and stress to gain a mortgage and purchase a home in Australia. The contrast in home acquisition is stark, yet so is the nature of our houses.

My Ukarumpa home is on land that is part of a 99 year lease to an organisation I am a member of. My village house is on land that I have no title to. Both houses are in a country where I currently have a five year visa. I expect to be here long term and renew my visa many times, which is why I am investing myself and my resources, but many things could easily change. Still, I am excited at these developments that continue to make this country more and more ‘home’.

1 comment:

  1. Edan on my lap looking at this post said 'She has a brown house and a white house!' This may now become how we talk about where you are from now one 'Auntie Hanna is in the white house at the moment; Auntie Hanna is flying to her other home to live in the brown house for a while'.