Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Vavine's Curse highlights Papua New Guinea's HIV/AIDS problem

A powerful new book by Port Moresby-based journalist David Lornie shines the spotlight on the terrifying HIV/AIDS situation and associated social problems in Papua New Guinea.

Vavine's Curse is the inspiring story of a young orphan girl from a small inland Rigo village outside Port Moresby who, through no fault of her own, finds herself with a HIV sentence.

Ostracised by her fellow villagers at a very young age, Vavine has to battle her way through prejudice, male chauvinism, superstition and violence.

Her journey in life takes her from the village to the bright lights of Port Moresby and through a world of drugs, corruption, crime, poverty and prostitution in the big city.

David Lornie, no stranger to PNG, takes us through the urban jungle and shows how the people dress, talk, eat and drink.

We are introduced to teenage girls with mini skirts in sleazy nightclubs, corrupt politicians, and sugar daddies who prey on high school girls.

Vavine's pimp "uncle" Dennis, a typical Port Moresby sugar daddy, brings her to the city to work in his nightclub/cum brothel.

The innocent Vavine is introduced to the shady and seedy world of prostitution, alcohol, drugs and all things evil.

Dennis and his partner in crime, Billy – on the recommendation of 'boss lady' Emily - get the na├»ve village girl to be a courier for their lucrative drug-running business on the streets.

The "stink thing" within her, however, gets too much and she seeks the wise counsel of Father Michael, who runs the Holy Cross Centre in Tokarara, one of the poorer suburbs of Port Moresby.

The centre is cramped beneath a government-sponsored clinic and offer blood tests, counseling, treatment and, above all, love and understanding.

Fr Michael recommends that Vavine starts the anti-retroviral drug treatment programme, which can keep the disease under control for a long time.

The story takes a twist towards the end as Vavine is busted by police – who have been keeping her under surveillance all this time - and her Mike Tyson-like driver Butler, fast becoming one of her best friends, is shot dead in the process.

Devastated, lost and alone in a tiny, dank room, she has just about resigned on everything when Emily – who all this time is an undercover cop – comes in and sets her free.

And in a final happy twist, Gaba, a young village boy who has had a crush on Vavine all this time, marries her and they live happily ever after in the village…despite her HIV status.

Lornie has created this story of courage and determination in the hope that it will increase awareness of the horrifying threat of HIV/AIDS.

"This disturbing events that surround Vavine in her struggle for survival are common in PNG," comments Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu.

"This is a novel that deserves to be widely read, particularly by high school students, as the awareness it brings will serve as a sober warning about HIV/AIDS and the human costs."

Fr Jude Ronayne-Forde, of the Simon of Cyrene Centre, notes: "I grieve for the children of PNG: for the ones infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

"They have a right to protection and care, and we adults are duty bound to give them a future."

David Lornie grew up in PNG in the 1970's, his parents teaching at Maprik High School, Goroka Teachers College and University of PNG.

He returned to PNG in 2001 to work for the Post-Courier where he is currently supplements editor.

He has a great love for PNG and is horrified by the HIV epidemic in this country which looks set to explode further and tear the country apart.

He wrote Vavine's Curse in the hope that it will help educate young people about the dangers of HIV and also to show that those with HIV are simply humans with a terrible disease who need love, not hatred.

Vavine's Curse – now on sale at Theodist and soon the UPNG Bookshop - is dedicated to the people of Papua New Guinea, with 10% of the author's royalties and 10% of the profits to be donated to Tessie Soi's Friends Foundation.

The Friend's Foundation provides support and care for people living with HIV/AIDS.

This support includes assisting parents in the prevention and reduction of the transmission of HIV to their babies; and Orphan Buddy system for children who have lost their parents, burials for unclaimed children from Port Moresby General Hospital and community-based home care.

Vavine's Curse

ISBN 13: 9780646488950

Publication Date: 2008

Binding: Softcover


Dwyers Pacific Press


  1. Anonymous9:13 PM


    This book is a must read for every one. HIV/AIDS is every one's problem and is here to stay.

    From your article, a convincing drama or act can be crafted out from the book, and that can add more on the publicity of HIV/AIDS awareness in the country.

    Thanks to the author of the book for the wisdom to write the book.

    Mathew Yakai

  2. Mathew, I'll send you and electronic copy of the book to read.


    1. How could I have access to a copy of this novel? I am doing a thesis on PNG novels based on gender issues and this is a great book to include in my research.I already have Toropo: Tenth Wife.
      I can be contacted on:

  3. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Is it possible to buy this book online? And have a hard copy sent?

  4. Elsa Veratau4:23 PM

    This book is a great read from what I have been reading in the Post Courier, It outlines the risks that females face in terms of HIV and AIDS especially young women in our society who turn to prostitution to make a living. It's a sad case for us Papua New Guineans. Is there any way I can get an electronic copy of this book? Please Help.

  5. Anonymous2:18 PM

    I love this novel and cannot wait to read every Tuesday in the Post courier. Where can I get a copy?

  6. Anonymous3:24 PM

    I love this novel as well, and every Tuesday I rush to the page where the story is to read. I didn't start from the beginning but guess in the middle somewhere. I would lik a copy of this book, can someone tell me where I can buy one? Thanks.

  7. Excellent blog about Vavine's Curse highlights Papua New Guinea's HIV/AIDS problem!! I love all the articles you have, you have done an excellent job with the information on them.!!!

  8. Anonymous11:41 AM

    Hi Mr Nalu, this book has got me really interested and i'd really love to read the book. Is it possible for you to kindly send me an electronic copy?

  9. Anonymous2:12 PM

    This book portrays the real life events of what goes on in our Country today.

    I've missed out on the August edition in the Post, but would really love to get a soft copy of it.. I'm not sure if it's still available in the book shop...

  10. Anonymous9:30 AM

    I would want to have a ecopy to read, waiting every tuesday is getting to me.

  11. Hi,
    I'd love to get a copy of this book. Anyway you could email me a PDF?
    amymawdsley - at -

  12. I must read this book!