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5 August 2008 - Hello Nauru. Where .....?! (First impressions)
When I put out the feelers in Jakarta for new job opportunities after
I had found out that my company had decided to cancel the contract
because of harassment by their client, I was surprised at the number of
positive emails that I received from friends and associates. Some
advised me of job openings that had just come up and some just gave me
contract details for possibilities.
I don't like putting more than one iron in the fire at a time because of
the possibility of getting two offers and then having to turn one of
them down. But, as it had never happened to me before I shouldn't have
worried about it. But it did this time! Two fairly definite jobs offers
came within a day or two of each other.
I would have been happy with either job but in the end I had to choose
so I chose the one that was closest to confirmation. One was a road job
in Kabul and the other a school in Nauru. Since I wanted to get going on
a new job as soon as I could I decided to choose the school in Nauru.
Nauru is a very small island (21 sq kms) in the Pacific between the
Solomon Islands to the south west, Kiribati in the east and the Marshall
Islands to the north. It's claim to fame is that its residents briefly
had the highest per capita income of any independent country in the
The source of their wealth was sadly (for them) an easily accessible,
non-renewable supply of very rich phosphate. For many years the
phosphate was mined by foreign countries at little benefit to the
Nauruans but the was reversed for a brief, crazy period just before
the turn of the millenium.
The Nauruans became the most travelled nation in the world, jetting off
15 December 2008 - I wrote the following in August after I had been in Nauru for six or seven weeks but I haven't been able to post it until
now because work has been pretty full on since I arrived. My job has been the main reason for my lack of time for other activities but just getting
day to day personal things completed efficiently has been very difficult. In fact, work has been much easier to organise and obtain satisfactory
results, with the excellent team of supervisors we have, than the everyday facets of our private life!
for weekend shopping in faraway exotic places. Many were educated
overseas, notably Australia and New Zealand and it is still
commonplace to hear distinctly Australian and New Zealand accents
and expressions coming from distinctly Nauruan individuals.
But alas the bubble eventually burst, and though some attempts had
been made by the government to invest for the inevitable rainy day,
the investments we not all well advised or, one suspects, totally
honest. Now the place is the ultimate example of ramshackle. The
average Nauruan didn't think about tomorrow then and has never
thought about maintenance!
The island was first named 'Pleasant Island' by its discoverer and
there are still some very pleasant locations around the very narrow
coastal fringe. But the majority of the island, the mined out interior
or 'topside', is the proverbial moonscape. albeit now quite green in
places after years of neglect and some recent heavy rain.
The Nauruans we work with and those we have met casually in shops
and businesses are all very friendly and helpful though nothing and
no-one moves very quickly during the normal course of events.
Nauruans tend to be overweight and sadly there is a very high
incidence of diabetes in the country and life expectancy is low since
the diet is generally very poor. However there are many health
workers from neighbouring countries trying to help redress the
The essential services are also in very poor working order and
maintenance is minimal and slow. It is mainly thanks to Australia and
other friendly countries for all the services that do work in the
Report 9 - 5 August & 15 December 2008 - Hello Nauru