Papua New Guinea
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Living in tents outside PomGen

BY THEOPHILES SINGH

A mother and her family have been sleeping outside the Port Moresby General Hospital for more than two months awaiting her son’s recovery.

Her son is a third year Science student at the University of Papua New Guinea who has been diagnosed with cancer and is in a critical condition at the hospital.

Leana Manu from Rigo in Central Province is a mother of three children who had to withdraw her youngest son from doing Grade 11 just so that the whole family can move to the city to be closer to her eldest son who has cancer.

She said that the family is struggling to survive in Port Moresby, especially when they have no proper accommodation with access to water and other basic amenities.

She highlighted the challenges that she faces sleeping outside by the road, exposed to extreme weather conditions and poor living conditions.

“We sleep out here on the ground. This small canvas is all that we have in the city.

“We eat what we can from food our extended family members or relatives bring, but apart from that we starve ourselves and try to eat only one small meal per day,” she said.

“We have no proper shelter, food and water. My husband, children and I, take turns in caring for their brother on a 24 hour basis.

“We make sure he is properly looked after and always has someone by his side to keep him company.

“This is not how we live though, we have our house and gardens up at the village but travelling these days is too expensive to go back and forth and we do not have the money to afford even that. We are simple village people and we make a living from selling lime at the markets, but the high costs of living in the city is forcing us into this poverty lifestyle.”
She said that the family has no source of income now that both parents are taking care of their son full time.

Leana emphasises how much her son means to the family and how they were once filled with pride in his academic achievements, until he fell severely ill.

“My son means everything in the world to me and my family. He is the only one who has gone through to university and we were all proud of his achievements, until he became severely ill. He is the only one that we all look up to as the answer to our woes but now we feel robbed of our blessings,” she said.

“All his cousins are worried about him and they are here with us to keep us safe outside and also rotate in shifts to watch over him. But we are all sad and miserable because all we want is for him to get better so that we can go back home.”

She expressed her high hopes that one day she can return home once her son becomes well and returns to school.