Papa Austin by bobfoto

Papa Austin

Francis Ona who created the BRA and started the 10 year Bougainville Crisis was holed up in the mountains of Panguna, he was the self proclaimed King of the Meekamui and even though there was in place a peace treaty for the past 12 years, there were still roadblocks in and near to the No Go Zone. Even after Ona passed away in his mountain hideaway, the Meekamui continued their campaign. I wanted to go to Arawa and then onto Kieta, down in the land of the Meekamui.

After discussing security concerns with the powers that be, I decided that I needed a decent guide to get me into the deep south of the main island of Bougainville. So I was at work one day chatting with a workmate who once worked as a mechanic at the great Panguna Mine, and once lived in Arawa before the conflict started. A man wandered up to us and we got talking. He was from Bougainville and happened to be the Marist Priest for the region of Arawa and Kieta. I asked him when he would return and he said "the same week you plan on visiting". I had found my guide.

So here's a portrait of my guide. The man who was going to keep me safe and get me to where I needed to be. And a man of the church meant that God was going to be our co-pilot, there were times coming up that I am glad he was.

Here we are, about to climb into a 4WD for a 4 hour drive south from Buka down into the land of the Meekamui.

Photo taken 6 August 2008.
Ah but God is always the pilot of our journeys
August 4th, 2012  
A good friend indeed , nice portrait of a man you trusted .
August 5th, 2012  
@jolefont - Father Austin would agree with you there Jo Ann.
August 5th, 2012  
@steveh - Cheers Steve, he was a good bloke.
August 5th, 2012  
Great portrait, great windup for what's to come. I'm excited 8-)
August 5th, 2012  
Sounds like a great guy.
August 5th, 2012  
Very compelling story Jason. Great shot of this man.
August 5th, 2012  
@tonydebont @kjarn @webfoot - Worth tuning in for this Saturday's photo and story. I call the shot the hardest I have ever taken.
August 5th, 2012  
Looks like a good man to have on your side.
August 5th, 2012  
Lovely portrait Jason...can't wait for the sequels
August 5th, 2012  
@tigerdreamer - he sure was!
August 5th, 2012  
@swilde - only 24 hours separates each one.
August 5th, 2012  
nod
Do you have online albums somewhere?
August 5th, 2012  
Wonderful portrait! you seem to be in good hands
August 5th, 2012  
Stunning portrait, Jason.
August 5th, 2012  
Great portrait! Sounds like quite an adventure!
August 5th, 2012  
Great picture and fascinating story, amazing to be a part of the history of that part of the world I cant wait to see how your journey unfolded.
August 5th, 2012  
He looks tough and trustworthy... and thoughtful too. Three Ts
August 5th, 2012  
interesting expression.....
August 5th, 2012  
An excellent portrait of him.
August 5th, 2012  
Great portrait of the man you trusted.
August 6th, 2012  
@nod - I do have a few Flickr and a blog or two... But most of them are all birds and guff. Plus a few of these stories in their infancy.

@calliopef @filsie65 @tthompsonca - He was a good bloke. Very handy to have around!

@sangwann @alia_801 @carolinedreams - Thanks Dione, Alia and Caroline!

@dalboy - the next few days will tell....

@houdiniem - he was talking to this lady who was a bit crazy.

August 6th, 2012  
You keep me sat on the edge of the seat in suspense.. You are amazing at telling stories :) Fantastic shot
August 6th, 2012  
Lyn
perfect portrait. . .I think there's a book in here, Jason!
August 6th, 2012  
@michelleyoung - I'm saving my best for later. I reckon you need a nice bottle of wine, some cheese and a comfy chair for Saturday's, Sunday's and Monday's installments... just sayin'

@lyno - I think I will have a crack at it Lyn, this project is the proof reading.
August 7th, 2012  
Oh I cant wait :)
August 7th, 2012  
@michelleyoung - well I hope I live up to the hype...
August 8th, 2012  
He looks lost in deep and concerned thought and fits well with the narrative. If I was going to have a body guard, who was also a Priest, I would hope that he would be as imposing as this man appears to be.
September 2nd, 2012  
@hellcat - He was a good strong man, and a fair travelling companion.
September 2nd, 2012  
Can't beat that :)
September 3rd, 2012  
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