PACE e BENE AUSTRALIA
From Violence to Wholeness
FACILITATOR CO-LEARNING PROGRAM
In partnership with Catholic Church Solomon Islands and Caritas
April 7–27, 2008
Day 1 Saturday April 6
Brendan arrived in Brisbane on the ‘red-eye’ at 7am on Saturday morning April 5th, about an hour later than schedule….an auspicious start to this adventure. Carole’s husband Steve was there to greet him and take him to further repose for the rest of the morning…an afternoon of catching-up and planning for the work ahead…followed by a grand feast, packing and early’ish night.
Day 2 Sunday April 7
We were due to depart Brisbane for Honiara at 930am on Sunday April 6th. We arrived at the airport and were told that the flight was delayed until 1pm. All bags checked on (despite last-minute anxieties that we were about 10kgs overweight – the bags we mean!).
So we waited….walked and talked….and waited. Then we were up and away – the adventure begins for real…
t an hour into our 3.5 hour flight, while celebrating our departure and our first PeB Australia venture overseas, we had just been served lunch when it was announced that the plane was returning to Brisbane due to a failure of the radio….and so we arrived back where we started around 4pm. It was quite amazing – there was a remarkable sense of calm around – with everyone on board accepting that this is how it is – just like open space in action – we’ll get there at the right time!
After another hour of waiting around at the airport, we were told that the problem could not be fixed and we’d be put up in a hotel overnight and fly out next day (Monday 7th) at 6pm.
So off we went – into reverse gear – back through Customs, collected our bags and got on a coach that took us to the Siebel hotel in the heart of Brisbane. Just as we got on the coach we heard the guys sitting behind us chatting – and one of them was from Ahoghill in Ireland – a wee village about 20 miles from where Brendan was born….amazing! So we had a good yarn and ended up having a couple of drinks (or so) and dinner with them at the hotel – the Irishman worked with the commercial financing arm of The World Bank and the other, a retired Canadian bank manager, worked as a banking consultant….we had a very interesting dinner conversation…eh!
Other people we ran into during this leisurely, luxurious interlude, were
‘A.D.’ a young surfer from the UK who was going to Gizo to help rebuild village houses after the tsunami last year – his story was inspirational: his friends had been surfing there when the tsunami struck and had escaped with their lives. They had been so touched by the help they had received from the local people that when they got back to England, they couldn’t settle and began to raise funds from their families and friends to take back to help the villagers rebuild their homes. And so AD was on his way to help them….quite a journey for a young man of 20!
Sumaglien – a black South African woman, now living in Sydney, who had great warmth and humour….going to visit her husband who was an engineer in Honiara. Her stories of living in SA during apartheid were deeply moving…
Day 3 Monday April 8
Good sleep, morning walk along the river and filling breakfast of anything we fancied….
Had a meeting to plan our first day’s work, packed our bags and had another hearty meal before the coaches came to pick us up at 3pm
And so off we went again – no Solomons Airlines staff there to greet us, we queued up at the Check-Out and noticed that our flight was now scheduled to depart at 8pm – a further delay of two hours….learning to be patient and nonviolent with what is beyond our control…again!
Eventually we boarded a very recent model Air Vanuatu plane and departed – this time making it all the way to Honiara, arriving at 1245am Tuesday morning to stutter through Customs and eventually be picked up by Adam Elliot and Peter from Caritas and delivered to the King Solomon Hotel….”don’t get too comfortable guys, we’ll pick you up in the morning around 655am for an 8am flight to Gizo”….and then our story really begins…. Continue reading “Solomon Islands Journal”