Sometimes we are confronted by the sheer selflessness of Papua New Guineans. A while ago, a cleaner in our office told me that she had 4 babies "but I give 1 away, Boss". Apparently, she gave 1 away to her sister because she couldn't have children. I asked her if she ever sees this baby or her sister and she said she doesn't; her sister lives in another village. This week, I learned that our receptionist has 1 child and another on the way. I expressed surprise that she had 2 children at the age of 25. She said "Actually, Boss, I have 4 children". My interest was peaked. Apparently her parents work in a refugee camp for Iryan Jayans. A few years ago, her mother came across a very young mother in the camp who had a baby that she couldn't look after. Our receptionist's mother suggested that she adopt this baby. A year later, her father told her about his friend, who "had 5 wives and many many daughters but no sons". The 5th wife was pregnant again and the friend had asked our receptionist's father "If this baby is a girl, will you take her?" The baby was born a girl. This baby is now 1 month old and our receptionist will adopt her during her next roster off period. I asked her what adoption involved and she said that she "just has to sign some papers". I asked her what her husband thinks of all this and what he does for a living. She said "he loves children" and that he has "deferred his degree in journalism to look after his children". He shares this task with his mother-in-law while our receptionist works at the mine and lives in the camp. It is very humbling indeed to be amongst a community where people are prepared to, and able to, look after other people's children. While there's certainly something to be said for a lack of red tape, I wonder what complexities this brings later...?
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