Farrar Clan’s Adventure to Ali Island
(Karen, Simon, Ash 13, Seth 11 & Flynn 9)
A great family from Victoria, Australia was asked to help build accommodation on a remote island of Ali in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Little did they know that this little trip would become their most treasured memory, forever…
What made you do it?
A contact we know invited us to do some volunteer work on a remote Island off the top of PNG. We really enjoy doing things for other people so this sounded like an awesome opportunity for our children to experience what community work was all about.
How did the company help you get there?
Ali Island Project held monthly meetings in the time leading up to our departure. We were actively involved in fundraising during this time as well. The Ali Island Project helped organise our Visas for PNG and coordinated our flights through the Brisbane based Air Nuigini, which was fantastic.
What were your fears?
My biggest concern before we left was ensuring we took our malaria tablets and making sure that we had an array of medication in case we got sick on the island.
What was the best experience?
The whole trip really, meeting the Ali people and getting to know their harsh, yet so uncomplicated existence; seeing lightning over the island at night and the fireflies floating in the coconut palms; playing with children who have nothing but pieces of driftwood as toys. Experiencing a remote and quite untouched community; learning how to pick, hull and cook coconuts; exploring WW2 relics on a nearby island; seeing how the Ali people build their outrigger canoes by hand; being gifted with exquisite shells from a tropical island; being brought fish on a daily basis fresh from the coral seas; watching our family communicate with children who spoke a different language by simply using non verbal skills; appreciating the value of a simple and uncomplicated life.
What impact had it on your life as a family?
It gave us a far deeper appreciation for the opportunities we are given in our daily lives and an understanding of the importance of giving to others and in turn learning from them. It taught us the art of small things creating happiness. Since our experience, we take at least one day a week where we go on ‘Ali Island time’ (a much slower pace of living – about 20% of our regular pace).
What impact had it on your children?
Our children were seen as idols, which is different from how children are seen and treated at home. It was nice for the kids to experience this kind of respect. Also, in PNG, the elders actually lead their people and a lot of respect is shown to them. And even though we did not share their language, the experience taught our children that the greatest gift you can give is your time and your kindness. It taught them that there are so many things in the world to explore and that commercially run tourism is not the only option. It taught our children to see the world through different eyes.
Would you go again or do something similar in the future?
Absolutely! Ashleigh, who was 13 at the time, said on the plane coming home, “Well if you can’t bring us back to Ali, then I will be back when I am 18, with or without you.”
What would be your best advice?
Be sure to take plenty of medical supplies such as antibiotics, nausea and diarrhea pills, asthma puffers, bandages and antiseptic. If you don’t use it, you will feel very good about donating it to the people when you leave. Better to be safe than sorry.
What would be the best ‘gifts’ you could take with you for them? Things that can be used by the whole community like skim balls for the water, surfboards, ribbons, school resources, children’s books, clothes and accessories, backpacks, re-usable drink bottles, nail polish, craft supplies – things like that.