von Wolfgang Zechner
Roland Kornhäusl zurück in Österreich
Roland Kornhäusl has been working with the Diocese of Bougainville for 4 years. He was a technical advisor in the field of finance management. In Bougainville he was together with his wife Amina and their daughter Marie-Therese Aisha. Here a small insight on their time in Papua Newguinea
After coming back to Austria did you feel a cultural shock?
Roland: I think this doesnt exist any longer. Coverage and internet can be found almost in every small village in the meantime. Facebook and other social media are „en vouge“. You always know whats going on with your friends and all around the world. That makes the world much smaller.
Amina: More a weather shock, it was really cold when we came back to Austria.
You have been 4 years in Papua Newguinea with us, did it meet your expectations?
Roland: Its difficult to say. For me I try not to create too many expections in regards the assignment before knowing the country, people, the acutal setup of the project and being there in person. Especially in the International Development Cooperation it takes quite some time from creating the assignment until the person is really on the ground and able to act.
Cirsumstances might have changed. Therefore – just me – I am trying to get background information in regards to history and latest news but not too much about the project. The more you know about the project before arriving the more expectations are already created in your head. As reality shows situations are most of the time different and you anyway have to adjust to the situation.
Escpecially in developing countries things might change drastically from one day to the other. But coming back to you question: For sure I had expectations such as to be accepted by the people, to be able to exchange some knowledge and to be part of the daily life with all their advantages and challanges. The experiences we made exeeded by far all our expectation in this regard.
What remains of your work? Personal resumee?
Roland: I think I was forutnate. I was at the right time at the right spot with the right people with the right motivation. Therefore the various teams I was part of were able to realize a number of projects, starting from new financial procedures and handbooks for the Diocese, reorganization of Departments/Ministries, financial trainings – espcially for my counterparts who are taking on from now, better networking with international partner which vica versa enabled the Diocese and Diocesan Departments to extend the activities of work.
We were able to do major steps for the Persons with Disabilities (new school buildings, set up of compound, establishing the first eye-care centre/glass cutting unit in the Region) as well as for Health. The team started from zero and reached a performance rating of 100 % within two years of work and became the most trusted Region within Papua New Guinea. Healthworkers were educated to Midwives, trained and networking on various levels was introduced. I was also invited to work on national level with the Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea. With this task we created a complete new entity and new office for around 2300 Catholic Health workers. I was able to give my input in order to establish the financial, office and aministration structures in cooperation with the National Department of Health.
Due the fact that less money from donor countries is available for projects but especially for overall administration Bishop wanted to expand the Income-Generating-Activities in order to be more sustainble and less dependend from donor money. With our team, the big help of our clergical Sisters and lots of reflections, meetings and workshops we were able to increase the income but more important the outcome = profit. At the end the profit during the years increased to – in the meantime – to 400 %.The Diocesan personnel provides now quality services. The staff achieves to provide the best Pizza in the country of PNG. We also established a „up to the standard Steak House“ and trippelt our hospitality facilties through networking and cooperation with others. For me its important to say that these achievements are done without formal education and compressed timeframe but (and this is very important) with a specific education pland which was in all of the cases leading to great success for the Dioces and great staisfaction for the people in Bougainville.
All these persons are now also rotating within the Diocese and now – through the new systems in place – have the change to step up.
Biggest challenges or problems?
Roland: Each location, each region, each microcosmos (as a Diocese) and each specific time has its own challanges. Sometimes its work related but many times not.
It can be that it does not rain for a couple of weeks and therefore things are becoming tough. It could be that a catholic statue (like the virgin mary from Fatima) arrives and priorities are changing. It just could be that the right people are just not around, just to mention three of so many other examples.
Challanges can be found here and there. Thats part of life … in Europe, in Afrika, in Papua New Guinea … all over the world.
You are deciding to go there you better accept the reality on the ground and make it work …. somehow … to make yourself still feel comfortable in your life and work.
What touched you especially, what changed you?
Amina: There were a lot of impressions in Bougainville especially for me as an african person, for example talking about colours because in Africa we have a lot of problems. There is a lot of awareness work being done about women bleeching their skins, doing all this sorts of chemicals on their body. So it seems that many women in Africa are not satisfied with being black. But going to Bougainville its the only island in the south pacific with really black people, all the others have lighter colours, and people from the other regions of PNG they call Bougainvillians the bottom of the pot … you know when you cook with fire the bottom oft he pot is black but even with all of this they dont want to change and they are proud of who they are. You see them on the streets and they are happy, so for me as an African this was a positive thing. And everybody is just open very helpful. Someone came to our house and brought a lot of food, bananas and sweet potatoes, all sorts of fruits and i asked the people who brought this … and everybody said, no it was not me, it was not me.
Roland: I was most touched by the people throughout the 4 years. The way the welcomed us, accepted us (with all our good and bad sides as well) and took us into their families. As I have also experiences of about 7 years worked in Afrika it easy for me to see simmilarities as well as the differneces …
Amina: …. for me it was really positive impressions I had there.
Roland: People are very open, very friendly, very loving. It was seen at our final stage on Bougainville – at the farewell party were about 250 people joining to say good bye. We got even the two biggest gifts in Bougainville possible. They people – our friends – slaughtered and cooked a pig for us.They started to plan our farewell already 6 weeks before our depature. On the evening lot of various groups perfermed and the party lasted until the morning hours. Impressive for us was that not only Diocesan personnel were joining but also lots of people from our network, from the NGOs, Government, …. and even Amina was initiated into the family of the Dicoesan Administrator, imagine! … and Bishop stayed until very, very late … which he does not usually do …
Amina:….so i am an Bougainvillian now …..
Which advice would you give new technical advisors before going out?
Roland: Be honest to yourself and to HORIZONT3000, have the right motivation and try (its not easy all the time) to be a role model for others and all will work out well. And always rember:
• Even the slope toward the peak of the mountain is very steep you you can reach it with small steps. If the underground is loose you might slip back …. but … where is a will is a way …. you just have to find you way, I guess!