Comments: 388 • Responses: 103  • Date: 

First_Of_Tha_Month65 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. My question is, and I hope I am not being inappropriate here, is what do people use as birth control? I feel like there would be a lot of kids running around without it and I have always been curious. Thanks!

merrderber89 karma

The mother here. The practice there is when a mother has a baby, the mother and father have to sleep separate to avoid more pregnancy. Cultural code of conduct kind of restricts the teenager. It is kind of taboo to sneak off with someone. There are also quite a bit of separation between the genders when it comes to tasks. For example, the men will go hunting, the women will go plant crops. They try and divide the two sexes as a form of birth control. Also, a lot of woman plan their cycle to avoid babies. On top of this there's apparently a plant that provides abortions.

samyumusic32 karma

On top of this there's apparently a plant that provides abortions.

wait what?

merrderber37 karma

Yep! I don't know the name specifically but if you consume it early on in the pregnancy, the child will be aborted.

derpyderpderpp8 karma

What about homosexuals?

merrderber40 karma

Well, I have never personally come across one. It's just such a foreign though if you get what I mean? Also, I think if someone did come out, they would be shunned, so they would prefer not to come out. Hmm, I myself am not homosexual so I wouldn't be able to tell you this side of the story

loolwut4 karma

So basically good ol abstinence

merrderber9 karma


TryNstopME02435 karma

Was there other tribes on the island and did you fear them? Was there cannibals, murderers?

merrderber89 karma

There are 5 major tribes in Rendova. Prior to Christianity, they use to eat and kill each other. They were in constant fear of each other It was kind of like a population control so there weren't many people. Our tribe has women who are known to be fierce fighters. A woman from our tribe went and killed the head of another tribe in battle and it's kind of stuck with us all this time. But now that's all over and Christianity is introduced, we don't do it anymore.

inrainbow13 karma

Do you feel Christianity or religion in general has helped the tribes? Has it hurt them in any ways?

merrderber45 karma

Oh definitely. Like I said before, we all use to kill each other and eat each other but we are definitely over that because of Christianity. I would assume that if it had kept going, we may have completely wiped each other out. However, to every positive there is a negative. Because of Christianity, we have lost a bit of our culture. We are one of those tribes who still cling to the old ways, but I've seen other tribes completely ditch their ideas. It causes an identity loss for the people.

bacondtf3 karma

Before someone explained the theory of christianity, what did you believe?

merrderber30 karma

Well, Christianity was there when I was born so I grew up with it. I knew all the christian bible stories. Let's just say, as soon as I was born, I lived breathed and ate Christianity. The missionaries who came to our island were eaten so the 2nd round must of have been really crazy dedicated to get the word of god out. I think it takes crazy people to be able to change a tribes view.

NoOneSane6 karma

How many years ago were the missionaries that came to your island eaten?

merrderber3 karma

Eh, probably about 200 years ago would be my response. I can't tell you the exact dates because we don't keep track of time!.

dick_wool33 karma

Do you eat the coconut crabs?

merrderber60 karma

I told my mum your question and she laughed at you. She said OF COURSE WE DO! They're really delicious and kind of a delicacy.

LiberalFartsDegree16 karma

Do they taste like the regular crabs we eat? I'm just imagining how much meat is in one of those things.

merrderber32 karma

Nope. They are a lot more nicer. I don't like the crab here. To me it doesn't taste nice at all. Coconut crab to me is just sweeter and a lot nicer.

PaladinSato29 karma

For your mother: did you worry about medical emergencies?

merrderber63 karma

No. Until I was hit with the situation it never crossed my mind. You don't see the danger of those things because you're just so use to it. When I was swinging a stick went right through my leg and embedded in my leg. Only then did I realise I needed to go to the hospital. It took the whole afternoon to find transportation to the hospital so I had to deal with the pain for about 12 hours. Even then, it was not treated right away. I was operated on the next day.

You have a lot of information in the Western world and because of this, you are constantly aware of death. For us, you could say we were blissfully ignorant.

cokevanillazero24 karma

On the whole would you say people are happier living a more simple way of life?

merrderber65 karma

The mother answering.

There is no perfect world from what I understand now. But, I think my people are very happy with our basic lifestyle because we have land to make our gardens and sea to hunt our food compared to other countries such as the poorer Asian countries. These things aren't abundant in these countries and the stress of survival is harder then ours. So it's a good lifestyle I would say.

In the Western World, everything is timed but in the rain forest, the concept of time is something we don't really use. We can go to our farms whenever and we don't have constant deadlines to meet.

JimmyNovak_40 karma

"In the Western World, everything is timed but in the rain forest, the concept of time is something we don't really use. We can go to our farms whenever and we don't have constant deadlines to meet."

You have no idea how much I envy this.

merrderber46 karma

There's a saying that goes 'If it's not done by today, there's always a tomorrow'.

JimmyNovak_21 karma

Where I'm from it was "don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today". I'm living by your saying.

merrderber26 karma

Hahah. I'm pretty sure my saying is something slackers can say to so make sure you use it in the right way.

celloshooters24 karma

What did you do for entertainment ?

merrderber51 karma

My mother replied with this. Survival is the priority and entertainment in not a really big deal. Entertainment only comes with festivities. She said that after all your chores are done, such as fetching water, cooking dinner, then entertainment can begin.

I'll also personally answer this to. I think it's kind of hard to get bored there. There are just so many things to do and so many people there. You forget time because you enjoy it that much.

Edit: I tried to type to fast and my grammar was out of line.

omguhax8 karma

Do the people not want books, technology, etc to progress? I'm not sure I can understand people not being curious about the world around them and the intellectual/cultural insularity perpetuated. It seems if you loved your community and way of life, you'd do what you can to keep it thriving, which means to learn and be vigilant of the world outside and related technologies.

merrderber23 karma

See, this is a very fine line. They really do want to learn and in some aspects, I really think education is needed to help people understand how the world works. I've mentioned it somewhere in the thread, but recently, a woman killed herself because she was shunned from the tribe because they thought she was a devil.

Sorry, that was a bit off topic. Now back to your question. Of course, they are curious. Many of them are envious of me for been able to see both worlds. They really want to be able to see the world like I have.

With technology, we want to move forward to have basic things like lights, but let's be honest here. It's the rainforest. It is really hard to do things like set up a power grid. The government also is extremely corrupt in my eyes and do not see the needs of the people.

omguhax7 karma

Thanks for the quick and thorough reply. Don't get me wrong, that wasn't criticism, just honest curiosity. You seem like a great person; good luck in your education and I wish good fortune to your village. As best I can figure, education isn't the apex of life, it seems just trying to enjoy it is imo, and the people in the rainforest seem to have it figured out just as well as anyone else.

merrderber17 karma

Hey man. I don't get offended easily so don't even worry about it. The aim was to ask me anything and that's exactly what you did. Thank you for your kind words!

fortunefading20 karma

Did you enjoy living like you did in the forest? Also, what do you like most about this "new world" you are in now.

merrderber52 karma

It's the daughter here. I enjoyed the rainforest living a lot. It makes you ignore the distractions and really focus on what's important in life like family. The thing I enjoy most here is probably Tim tams. But in all seriousness, been able to connect to people so easy is probably something I really value. Once when I was on the island, I had to paddle a whole day just to get a message to my uncle. It would have been so much easier just to call him.

JSpike11 karma

Anyone thought of two cups and a REALLY long string? Boom! Exponentially increased communications.

Now, where's my Noble Peace Price?

merrderber20 karma

Are you Albert Einstein?

hotpotato_ohmy19 karma

Yes, you came back! Now that your mother is here, I can finally ask...you mentioned in your previous IAmA your mom had to dress up as a guy to get on the plane because her first husband was waiting for her at the airport. Was he waiting at the airport constantly? Or rather...is he STILL waiting at the airport? Just curious about that particular situation.

merrderber23 karma

He got his network of people who would constantly inform him. He was like a stalker with a lot of networks to find out specifically where I was. So all the people at the airport would report to him if I was there and he would come and get me. It's a small town so it's easy to stalk people.

Edit: Also, he's not at the airport anymore. He's remarried and we are on very good terms now. It's something we can have a laugh about now but back in the day it was a very tense situation.

The_Squibz16 karma

Personal religious beliefs aside, do you and your mother believe you see life in a more "spiritual" way? As in, more connected to nature? It seems like a relatively taboo concept that a lot of people (myself included) that live in the 'here-and-now' technology-fueled world today don't tend to bring up on an average basis.

merrderber39 karma

Its the mum here Yes, I see life in a more spiritual way that is connected to nature and our surrounding, in my everyday living. Back in the village, birds, the feel of how I connected to the land the surrounding of our of my environment just makes your spirit man feels at home. This is very hard to explain to western people who have no connection to their environment. Even living in Australia for long time whenever, I get to the village, I can feel deep down in my spirit person just how I am at home by just being connected back to the nature.

allenahansen15 karma

How long were you home schooled? Did you use a spelling primer?

merrderber28 karma

The mum here.

I wasn't home schooled, I went to primary school grade 1 when I was 10. There is no kindergarten or preschool. You went to school when you were strong enough to walk because the distance was so far. The thought of a tiny 6 year old walking through the thick rain forest was not a pleasant thought so that's why I went to school much later in life.

ghnrkit15 karma

Do you have any cool custom stories to tell us?

merrderber47 karma

There were two eel fishes. They were up in a tribal mountain which has a big swampy pool on the hafuri tribe land. One day they decided as a friendly challenge thy should try cook each other. They were both called Rhino but we we call Rhino1 and Rhino2. Rhino2 said to Rhino1

'ok, try and roast me', so Rhino1 collected all the rogue twigs and wet wood and although the fire was strong, it was not enough to heat up the rocks on which Rhino 2 was to be roasted on.

After the roast is over, Rhino 1 checked the roast and Rhino 2 was not dead.

So Rhino 2 then said, it's my turn to roast you. Rhino 2 got strong wood and good twigs and made his fire and essentially won the cooking context because the rocks were well heated.

So Rhino 2 realised how retarded this idea was and decided to run away. They lived in a big lake, but when he moved, the whole lake and all the life in the lake moved.

He went through many rivers to try find a suitable place to stay but many places weren't suited for him. For this reason many rivers and lakes were made.

Finally he found a place that suited him well and it was a big lake at the top of the mountain. He went up the river to get to the lake and when he went up, he came across a woman at the front of the river. Been the polite person he was, he asked the woman if he could enter the lake. She said no. He decided to go ahead anyway and moved up the river with all his water and animals. The woman's stuff went up the river him.

So she chased after him and she finally caught him. She told him to stop destroying everywhere with his water so he finally decided to stop and make the lake at the top of the mountain.

Edit: Grammar and spelling.

LittleOrphanEnnui13 karma

For either you or your mother: what are the options for beauty/personal care? For instance, would you use anything to make skin softer? What about for your hair? Thanks for doing these AMAs!

merrderber31 karma

The mum here. How am I meant to know what I look like if I don't have a mirror? Back in my day, you just relied on what people told you. People were also very cruel and your imperfections became your nickname. My nickname was four corner forehead because I had a big forehead. Overall, we didn't really care and if you were ugly, nothing you could do because there were no beauty products to fix it.

Edit: Grammar

LittleOrphanEnnui11 karma

Thanks for the quick response. I hadn't considered that... You can't do much to change it, so why bother? Sounds like it would probably be less stressful than my culture's alternative of staring at our imperfections every morning while we brush our teeth, and comparing our imperfect faces to those on magazines, TV, etc. Thanks again!

merrderber25 karma

Hahaha. I guess? I think it's also very stressful though for everyone to call you ugly and I would be lying if I said I didn't cry but he sure did give me thick skin.

LittleOrphanEnnui10 karma

Yeah, true. I certainly got teased as a kid and it felt so horrible. I was able to get sympathy from my family, especially my mother, though. Were you able to talk to anyone about your feelings, or did you just have to tough it out alone?

merrderber12 karma

It was the norm so most people told you to just get over it. It's just the way things were done and I was considered a little sook for crying over it.

EiW1N3 karma

Reflections in the water? It's not perfect, but it should give you an idea.

merrderber30 karma

Hahahha, yep that's what we relied on but our culture doesn't rely heavily on looks. For example, when choosing a woman, we use to see if she was a good cook and do things such as carry heavy firewood.

-Bae-5 karma

Sounds like your men have their priorities in order. My wife is a good cook, but she is terrible at carrying firewood. I take the bad with the good though.

merrderber4 karma

Good on you for dealing with your wife! Hahah, I'm sure she is a lovely woman. :)

Garmen410 karma

How do you feel about the food in modern day society, with all the chemicals and the artificial way of producing fruit, vegetables and other? Thanks

merrderber25 karma

Well, I'm kind of on the fence about this. I mean good on humanity for finding a way to make food bigger and better but I don't really know if this will have a serious effect in the long run. I'm sure there's probably studies on this issue which I have not read, but I went from been on natural to a heavily processed diet. I can tell you one thing for sure. When I go to Solomons, doing a poo is easy. The amount of fiber I get is more then enough for a healthy digestive tract. Here, not quite so much. I constantly have problems with heavily processed food here.

Bear74310 karma

What was the best and worst thing about the Rainforest and Australia? Thank you for doing this AmA, I couldn't really think of anything so now you have a hard question, thank you again!

merrderber23 karma

Best thing about the rainforest would have to be the lack of distraction. Imagine all your bills and what not gone. All you would have to focus on is your family and you. The worst thing though is probably the survival part of that. My skin is considerably a lot more weaker now and I say that if I got a very badly infected bug bite, I may pass away from that.

With Australia, I have to say that the worse thing here is probably people not connecting with one another. I found it so weird when I first came here that people did not even want to say hello to each other when they clearly knew each other because it was awkward. The best thing though is how easy it is to communicate with everyone. HAHAH, I just realised the irony. It's so much easier to communicate here but we don't. I like been able to pick up the phone and call someone instead of having to paddle for a day to deliver a message.

ghnrkit10 karma

Since you're answering so quickly, I have another question to ask. I read in your last AMA you had a bit of a wild crocodile experience involving a pot lid. Do you have any other stories about crocodiles?

merrderber23 karma

It's the daughter here. Ahh, the good old pot lid fetching game. I've posted this somewhere before but I'll assume you haven't read it. Well when I was younger I was in my tiny canoe. I think I was about 4 or 5. I was just enjoying my day paddling away and I saw a crocodile. My canoe was small enough to tip over in the crocodile tried. I thought to myself, 'IM NOT DYING TODAY' and I paddled to the shore as fast as I could. I jumped out of the canoe and climbed up the tree. The crocodile waited for me on shore and eventually gave up. That day I had to walk home from that point which took 3 hours. :(

SanSalvia6 karma

You were just out canoeing all by yourself? Are parents there just more lenient about that kind of thing?

merrderber28 karma

Well of course I was! I told my grandmother that I was going fishing and she told me to bring back some fish. It's just like if you go to your parents, 'Oh, I'm going to go ride my bike'.

You may see it as dangerous but to us it's just a way of life.

Dunixi9 karma

How are crimes handled on the island? Is crime common on the island?

merrderber24 karma

The daughter here. Normally, they are just shunned from the village. I guess the thought of the only people you know completely shunning you is a good enough deterrent for people to not commit crime. We once had this crazy guy one Christmas though threaten to kill all of us if we went to church. He was eventually brought down by the locals. A few days later, after news had got to the main down on another island of what had happened, the police turned up and took him away.

NoYesIdunnoMaybe9 karma

Does the climate stay away from extremes? Or do you have to do things to deal with extreme heat?

merrderber14 karma

The mum here. We just know it's really cool in the morning and really hot in the afternoon. Most people know to do their work in the morning and to go have a river bathe. I don't really think it's that extreme because I'm use to it. The only extreme is probably wet weather like cyclones and floods.

gradlifer9 karma

Because I'm morbidly curious: In your first AMA you talked about a kid who got dragged down by a crocodile. Have you heard or witnessed other, umm, interesting attacks/deaths? (I feel horrible for asking, yes.)

merrderber19 karma

Hahaha it''s the daughter here. I enjoy questions like this because you have quite a few really messed up deaths that I personally don't tell my friends because I don't think they can handle it.

Crocodiles are a major killer if they get a taste of human blood. After that first taste, it's down hill from there. They will stalk little canoes and try get the little kids. I myself saw a crocodile knock a kid out of the canoe and get dragged down.

Also, sometimes a fight with a boar can kill you if you don't have a weapon. One man I knew got killed by the boar because he fought it to the death and did not survive. We found him on the rain forest floor after he had been missing for a few days and he was disgusting.

gradlifer8 karma

Holy crabapple. That's some intense life-or-death human drama. Well, rest assured that I can handle stories like these. So if you have any other (morbid) stories that you're just dying to talk about, please go on. Err, if you want to, ya know. Ahem.

merrderber31 karma

Hahaha. Well this isn't a death related morbid story but it kind of is? Back in the day, we use to fight other tribes. If the head of the tribe was killed we won. The custom though was to eat the head of the tribes body. So the warriors would sit down and start eating. However, if one of them vomited, that meant that they were going to die in the next battle. To save them, one of their brothers would have to eat their vomit to essentially save them from dying.

gradlifer9 karma

That...is some strong family loyalty. The sort of loyalty that I will not emulate.

merrderber23 karma

HAHAH I'm not sure if you've read this story in my other thread but I'll tell you anyways because I'm a nice person. My family is the head family who owns a reasonable size of land. Women traditionally inherit the land, not the men because men are hunters while women are farmers. My great grandmother x6 or something married the chief. The chief had no right to the land but his sisters did. One day the chief died and at that time, the women and her children were considered to be nothing anymore because her husband was dead. To ensure her children's future, she hung herself over her husband body. Her blood sacrifice took the ownership of the land from the chiefs sisters to her children. We sometimes joke saying the story is basically the story of Jesus and how he sacrificed himself for us.

SunShiranui2 karma

Hahaha that's fantastic

merrderber4 karma

I'm pretty sure the guy eating the vomit didn't think so.

what-no-what9 karma

Do you think society would be better off living how you did on the island or in the modern world? There are a lot of people in civilized society that talk about hating societal structures and we would be better just trading and living in the "wilderness" for lack of a better term.

merrderber26 karma

The mum here. I don't think so. There are ideas from each society you can borrow. I don't think any of the societies are better. We can borrow ideas from learning about what you grew up in. I try and learn each from each society and find out what works and will make me the happiest wherever I live. For example, here many people want to buy a fancy car. In my home, there are no cars and any form of transport is good. For that reason, I bought a reliable good car that will get me from point A to point B without trying to impress all my friends.

Katkam998 karma

Considering you said you had nothing, what did you use for "feminine products"?

merrderber19 karma

Well in my day, we generally used reusable cloth that we washed in the river. I guess today you could use a pad on tampon but the with that is disposing them safely. We tend to have a lot of dogs that live with us and as you may no, dogs will eat that kind of stuff.

jelliknight2 karma

What about toilet paper?

merrderber17 karma

At one point in my life, and your ancestors life, toilet paper did not exist and leaves were used instead.

Dourpuss8 karma

What are toddlers and children like there, compared to Australian children?

merrderber17 karma

Oooh good question. A lot more helpful. The kids there are meant to do chores from a young age and if they disobey, they are thoroughly punished. There is also a big thing with respect there. The custom there is you cannot even look into an elders eyes because that shows that you're they're equal when you're not. You need to look somewhere else. So that whole, respect your parents teaching is heavily enforced. That's not to say that they're are temper tantrums, but there is a lot of disciplining to ensure they don't happen again.

IonicPenguin11 karma

Oh my, Where I grew up (Irish community in North America) not looking someone in the eye was an insult.

merrderber12 karma

See, my dad has a similar upbringing and was the same as you. It was so confusing when dealing with both parents.

toorik5 karma

Can you please explain what "thoroughly punished" means?

merrderber20 karma

You are hit, with an object until you understand what you did was wrong and you will never do it again. Some people may see this as abuse but honestly, personally I feel like it does good things if done right. I'll give you an example. My sister was swimming in the ocean. At the time, there were crocodiles lurking around and my grandmother told her specifically that she was not to go into the ocean. My grandmother caught my sister swimming and what did she do? SHe picked up coconuts and started throwing them at my sister. Now this may seem abusive, but my sister never went into the water when my grandmother told her not to again.

futurerealities8 karma

How did you spend your free time, and as a teenager did you spend time with friends?

merrderber13 karma

It's the mum here. In my day, I didn't have a lot of free time. Things have developed more ow so it's a bit easier to farm and what not now. When I was younger, a lot of my time consisted of doing my chores, walking to school which took about 2 hours and coming back to school and helping my mum. There was obviously not a lot of time for myself. But if I did have free time I would do things like go catch prawns in the river or play games with my brothers and sisters. When I was a teenager, I got sent to boarding school on a completely different island and even then, it was a pain in the ass. I still had to farm my crops and do basic chores while studying at the same time. However, in my off time, I would spend time with my girlfriends and we would do what normal teenage girls do. Gossip, look at boys.

Rosalee7 karma

Are you going to spend your life on Rendova or are you going to live in Australia? Also, I really enjoyed your pictures and glimpse into your home life.

merrderber17 karma

As I've mentioned before, many of the kids would have killed for the same opportunity. I intend to use my opportunity to my fullest here for those kids who were unable to do the same. I fully intend to retire back there though and become and old grandma there. :)

Rosalee7 karma

That sounds like wisdom. I wish you and your people every success.

merrderber5 karma

Thank you!

jackjam7 karma

What did you dislike the most? And what could you deal with the best?

merrderber18 karma

The mum here. I assume you're asking about what I dislike in Australia?

What I dislike the most is that when most people see me, the assume I come from a very poor country and I have had the hardest upbringing. The truth is, a lot of you don't realise the richness of what we have there.

In Australia I like the freedom to express myself without cultural restriction as a woman. There were a lot of cultural expectations on me growing up because I was a woman. At a certain age I was expected to be married and already popping out kids. I don't have to do that here.

Edit: Mu is not the same as mum.

jackjam2 karma

yeah sorry, was not intended to be offensive

merrderber10 karma

It's ok. I didn't find it offensive at all.

toorik7 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this ama! My question: did you have shamans or something similar? Did you use psychedelic plants for healing or spiritual purposes?

merrderber11 karma

Hhahaha. You know what. My grandmother was considered some head spiritual lady. I don't know what you would call it in English, but she was in charge of making sure that if someone did get possessed, she would pull the spirit out of their body. There are also 'gifts' handed down from each generation to the other. Ok, this is going to sound crazy but whatever. I have an uncle that was given the gift of healing from his dad. My younger brother had really bad eczema and my uncle touched my brothers eczema and essentially healed it up. We don't really use psychedelic plants.

Edit: Spelling

shabusnelik3 karma

Could you tell me more about the healing thing?

merrderber7 karma

Sure! It's a gift passed down from father and son. The father will pass it just before his death to his favourite son. The way they say it works is it's not from Christianity. This is something in our bloodlines and passed down from our ancestral spirits or what you may call demons. I remember some crazy ass missionaries tried to once pray out what was in our blood when we were younger but they said it couldn't be done. The healing works by touch. The healer will generally massage that spot and it will heal over the course of about a week or so.

shabusnelik3 karma

Does it always work? Does it only help with sicknesses or also injuries?

merrderber3 karma

See, I haven't fully checked the extent of the gift. Actually, I've sprained my ankle before and he has healed it so I guess it could work in injuries but it also depends on how severe. He will always tell you to actually see a professional fist and not rely on his work.

purplegreendragon6 karma

Good do have you back, thanks for doing a second AMA. I just ask the same question, this time for your mother. Hello, I want to know what your typical breakfast is and do you eat something special on sundays or religious days?

merrderber5 karma

AHH. You just missed my mum. She has gone out to do the groceries, but I WILL MAKE SURE SHE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTION.

MostDishonorable6 karma

Do you have any memorable experiences of tasting a certain type western of food for the first time?

merrderber41 karma

Hmm. For me it would have to be pork crackling. My father told me it would just be like boar. The thing was, it was so salty. I just don't understand how it could be so salty. Also, potato chips. Seriously guys, you have a problem with salt over here.

pacsmack546 karma

Was there a religion specific to the island before Christianity came along? If so, are any beliefs still held from this religion?

merrderber14 karma

It wasn't exactly a specific religion but we believed in many spiritual things. For example, we believed in our ancestral spirits as well as nature. We also believed that there were other beings apart from us, such as giants, shape shifters. Sorry, you guys don't have these creatures in English. The truth is, even though Christianity has come in, there are still many things that we still follow with the old belief. For example, we won't go to old enemy tribes land out of fear that we will become sick. My grandmother use to go into the rainforest to tell the ancestors that a visitor was coming so they wouldn't attack them.

pacsmack546 karma

Fascinating! Thank you so much for the answer! I think this is by far the most interesting ama I have ever read.

merrderber3 karma

I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Sihathor3 karma

Hi! Thank you so much for the AMA. I just want to let you know that there are people in the Americas and Europe, Australia (and even a few in the Middle East), referred to as Pagans (used as a name,not an insult), who are inspired by the pre-Christian religions of Europe and the Middle East, as well as those of other places, and seek to revive the old religions of those places (Scandinavia, Greece, Egypt,etc.), or to practice new religions (such as Wicca) inspired by them who look to traditional religious practices like the ones you talk about, as signs of hope, as somewhere we want to be.

There are also others who are not necessarily Pagan, but do nonetheless look to the traditional beliefs and practices. Elsewhere, your mother mentioned learning from different societies, island and industrial alike. Some of us here feel that we are missing a rootedness in nature, a rootedness in the past, a sense of belonging to the world that neither technology nor the bigger religions, like Christianity, can fulfill (Christianity has been around a lot longer here, more traditional beliefs,practices, and worldviews have been lost)

Even outside of religion and spirituality, many people more generally are looking for simpler, healthier ways in life, less about shiny things and more about people and the land.

I apologize for the long comment, but when I read this answer, I felt I had to tell you that we exist. I hope to think of an actual question to ask.

merrderber2 karma

Well your comment was very interesting to read! Yes we have heard about you guys before. My people are still very much spiritual in our old ways and there are things that you will experience that are beyond the realm of explanation. To be honest with you, I don't really know how to state it but thanks for your comment!

rijuvenator6 karma

How far did you have to walk to school?

merrderber7 karma

Mother here. We lived off from the village. We had to walk about 2 hours through thick rainforest to get there.

I'm the daughter. We moved a bit closer in my generation and had to walk an hour and a half. :)

rijuvenator3 karma

Any idea how far that is distance-wise?

merrderber4 karma

Oh buddy. I am so sorry I actually have no idea. If I had some way of measuring I would tell you. It's not that it's a fair distance though. We have to do a lot of winding through the rainforest to ensure we're on a safe path which is why it takes so long.

desanex5 karma

Are you and especially your mom interested in global affairs? I feel like in our modern world we are tought to always think globally about everything. I'd imagine this isn't part of your old cultureā€¦

merrderber7 karma

My mum has quickly gone to do the groceries so I'll answer from my view first and I'll get her to respond later. I myself have never really cared about global affairs as bad as it seems. However, at one point, I realised that there were a lot more people who were way worse off them me and became intrigued at why and how they got there. I currently study, law with another degree which is international relations so I could pursue my learning in this area.

MRS_CAPS4 karma

How do you kill the turtle?

merrderber3 karma

There is no soft spot. So they hit the top of the head with an axe. Then they cut it open but when you cut it open, the heart is still pumping and they say turtles don't really die.

MRS_CAPS2 karma


merrderber2 karma


MrKaneda2 karma

How do you cook it? Is it good to eat?

merrderber3 karma

We make a soup out of it. You can cook the blood and it taste nice as well!

Haphios4 karma

Having come from a world so rooted in the early days of humane existence, to this modern, uber-connected and technological society, what aspects of both worlds do you think would make for a better civilization as a whole?

merrderber8 karma

Hmm good question. For Australia, for sure it would be getting more in touch with each other. I feel like we are just so disconnected from each other. If someone fell down, a lot of people would be like, 'Oh well, not my problem.' I have a major problem with this and I hate seeing a lack of compassion when it is so easy to do something.

For the village it would probably have to be education. Education is extremely powerful in ways you wouldn't even realise. About last year, a woman took her life. This was because the people in the village believed she was some kind of devil who would try and kill them and she was shunned. If these people were educated, this probably would have not happened.

That's just my personal views though.

mistertrustworthy4 karma

What are the things about city life and folk that you still think are weird?

merrderber5 karma

Basically, everything. When you think about it, city folk are really weird. They find it weird that you try and work so hard for this money to buy even weirder things and from there, you neglect your family. I'm not saying everyone is like this by the way. They also find it so weird that you don't look after your elderly. So the thought of a nursing home is so weird to them. Their belief is, your mother and father raised you and made the best for you so you should reward them in their old age by looking after them. Yet again, I just want to say I know everyone isn't like this. This is just the general perspective.

ihateeveryo4 karma

If you could be choose to be eaten by a crocodile or a shark, what would you choose?

merrderber19 karma

This is a really hard question to be honest. They are both equally as terrifying. Probably a shark. I feel like most sharks don't normally go for humans unless they've made a mistake and hopefully if you fight hard enough, you will be able to get out. Crocodiles on the other hand can be dicks. They will drag you and you will be gone. So overall, a shakr would be nice.

everythingisforants4 karma

Oh, sweet! I just thought of this question the other day but the AMA was long since past:

What is fashion like on the island? Are there some people who care about that stuff and take time with their clothes and appearance or is it more like 'I see you people every day, who cares?' Are some people exceptionally vain or is that not really a thing?

merrderber6 karma

Hhaha. Good lord. Fashion. It really isn't our thing. Also, yes we see each other every day so who cares. I'm sure some people would love to dress up but lets be practical here. You will be covered in dirt and sweaty by the end of the day so you want to wear practical clothing. Hope that answered your question. :)

paleoninja4 karma

How do the men and women cut their hair?? what about the mens beards?? how are the nails cut?

Whats the diet plan like on the island?? from Monday to sunday would some days be vegatarian and some days with meat??whats the main staple of carbs, proteins and fats. how was the cassava cooked i know its posionous if cooked wrong. i have soo much questions im sorry if this is too much and unorganized. Is it standard to eat breakfast lunch and dinner?? one meal a day?? Is most food bbq/ground oven or soup?

do some days people go without food like is fasting a ritual that is known on the island?

merrderber10 karma

If your knife is sharp enough, it will cut through your hair. That's how it was done in the old days. Get the knife and cut the hair. Now we have scissors we bring back from the capital. For nails you just bit them off or used a knife again.

It really depends on what you feel like. There is not set diet plan if you get what I mean. Structure is something we don't really do so it really depends on the people and what they want to eat. The main staple of carbs, is taro, cassava, rice (imported form the capital). Protein comes from the animals we kill, so boar and fish and I don't know where we would find fats. Probably just in the oil.

You don't have to eat all your meals with everyone but it's just something you generally do. It's considered to be normally to do that. They find it really weird that a lot of Western Societies don't generally tend to eat together.

A lot of the food is cooked over the fire. Sometimes with motu, or what you would call roast the food. This consist of heating up rocks and chucking them onto a fire. After they are all heated up, you put whatever you are cooking inside the rocks and let it slowly cook the food.

Most people don't do fasting , well not that I know of.

paleoninja2 karma

Im am soo obsessed with you culture thanks for doing the AMA, What or who gave you the idea of getting education and moving abroad?? Do you guys have coca cola??sugars candy?? do you think the western materialism could or is damaging the way of life there??

merrderber12 karma

Hmm. Probably my grandfather. I'll tell you a story about my grandfather. My grandfather is from another village from my grandmother. He was born in the time of 'hidden'. It essentially is that time where Christianity had not come through for his people He lived in the mountains and they were absolutely isolated from everything. He first saw the sea when he was about 6 years old and fainted because he had never seen anything like it before. He wanted more though. He was sick of been in the rainforest and decided to go to the capital. He became a ship master and met my grandmother while travelling around Solomons. He wanted his kids to see more then he did. He wanted his kids to see the world so he ensured all of them got an education.

Now my mother is in Australia talking to you through the internet and all his kids are spread all over the globe. He wanted more for his kids and that's why he insisted they all get an education and move.

My dad is white and brought me over to Australia for my education.

We don't have coca cola or sugar candy. I personally think it would be beneficial to have some Western Influence on my village so we can get basic things like education and lights, but other things such as drugs and what not, we could do without. Also, the concept of money is what essentially drove logging companies to log our beautiful land so I definitely do think some Western materialism isn't good for my island and village.

Tzintzuntzan244 karma

What are your opinion(s) on the rising sea level that will most likely affect your way of life?

merrderber7 karma

Oooh good question. We are very lucky. Our island is not one that will be drastically effected because we are not on flat land. THe more you go in land, the more up a mountain you will go. Other island however will not be so lucky. They will be completely taken out. The thing is, these people will need to relocate and where exactly will they go. I have a feeling that in the next few years of centenary we will have an overcrowding problem in the capital.

desanex3 karma

Can you and/or your mom tell us some stories from your old tribe? I love the simple myths and fables the different cutlets tell each other. I feel like you can learn a lot about a culture by listening to their stories. (Sorry if this has already been answered )

merrderber6 karma

Hahahah just for you my friend. We do have stories about mermaid to, but not the beautiful disney type ones. The stories we have are that looks can be deceiving. They say if you find one, she will grant you a wish, however, if you do not choose the right wish, you are doomed. She will take you and you will be her prisoner forever. On top of this, we have a lot of giant stories. They say that there was a giant who was enormous. There is a massive canoe in the forest somewhere which they say is his canoe. Also, in the land, there are a few giant footprints that really are to big to be human.

desanex3 karma

Thank you very much again! But if you tell stories for the small children what is more important; the mythical stories or the historical events of your tribe? I'd also love to hear a storie/fable from your mom if she has an other story ^^

Thank you!

merrderber3 karma

Ahhh, there's a similar one to the boy who called wolf and now that I think about it, it's nearly similar. It's basically the same story but it involves a shark. Hang on I'll get back to you. I have to deeply search my memories for these stories.

grouphugintheshower3 karma

This sounds like an amazing experience and I am glad to see you both doing this AMA :) That being said, here's my question: As far as alcohol and drugs that you know of, what is available and used by the people on your island/in your village?

merrderber5 karma

Well we never use to have drugs and alcohol but that's just something the influence of the Western World has done. A lot of the younger men will buy alcohol from the capital and drink it in the village. The main drg before this was probably tobacco.

mgbz3 karma


merrderber5 karma

Hmm, the generation before my grandmother were probably the people who never left but my grandmothers generations started travelling around Solomon Islands more because ships were brought in. They never left because they didn't have the resources to. Also, in this generation there are people who have only left the village maybe once? It's because they simply don't want to leave. You'll find this more common in my grandmothers generation. When I go back I tell them all about it and they react as if it's alien technology.

Oh you are so right. They wouldn't even know how to work half the stuff you do and probably think you're so cool for been able to do so.

rijuvenator3 karma

What are some skills that you take for granted or are second-nature to you that people in technological societies don't have? e.g. walking far distances, building a fire, fishing, climbing trees, tying knots, setting traps, having a sense of direction, anything like that?

merrderber6 karma

Well, this is going to sound really rude, but I think a whole bunch of you guys are sooks. Honestly, I use to competitively train for tennis and it involved running a lot and lifting. All my peers use to complain constantly and I was like what the hell, this is nothing.

To this day I can still easily climb a tree and fish. I really wish climbing the trees were the norm here because it's so much fun. I also know how to tell the time by the sun. Not the exact time but I will be able just to tell.

rijuvenator3 karma

Not rude at all. I'm sure it's extremely true. If I knew what a "sook" was but it sounds like "weakling". I definitely can't run and lift very much, and I can't fish or climb trees or hunt or set traps or build fires. So I envy you and your outdoorsy skills :)

merrderber4 karma

It is weakling. Hahah, I'm pretty sure you would be much better at working the laptop then me so I guess we're even.

LukeMullery3 karma

What was the most amazing thing for you when you moved over to Australia that is just the normal daily occurrence?

merrderber8 karma

Man, realistically, what isn't amazing. I'm going to copy and paste another post for you. I remember flying on the plane and been so confused at how such a heavy thing could fly. Even the lights were amazing to me. Turning them on and off was like magic to my mind. When I landed in Australia my father asked me if I wanted a drink of water and my reply was, 'there doesn't seem to be a river anywhere near by, so how are we going to get it?'. My dad then showed me a tap and my mind was blown. Where was the river where this water was coming from? The refrigerator also blew my mind. In the village if we had meat we would eat it immediately otherwise and here was this magic machine that preserved it. He later asked if I wanted to go to the grocery store to get food for dinner. I replied with 'You don't have to grow your own food?'. My dad chuckled and we went to the grocery store. I was amazed. Most of these foods I had never seen in my life and there was so much of it! Also, I could eat any meat I wanted! I could keep going on with things that amazed me, but really there were so many.

GarciaaLater3 karma

What is something people generally accept as normal in this "new world" that you are having trouble accepting yourself?

merrderber8 karma

I guess you could say I tend to have a really high moral standard because of my culture. When I was younger, I had other kids try and peer pressure me into things like drugs, alcohols and so on. I could never do such a thing because it shows blatant disrespect at how my mother raised me. Also, if I see someone that needs help, I always give it to them. I have been late numerous amounts of times to things because I cannot just walk away from someone who needs my help.

allthedumplings3 karma

This AMA has been really interesting! I was just looking at your crowdsourcing page and I think it's great! Do you have any other plans once the primary school is established?

merrderber6 karma

I have a full intention to start a full blown high school. I really work hard in school and I hope I will be successful but my drive isn't for myself. It's for these kids. I hope to build a nice school through me for these kids. I've never really wanted much from the material world. For example, I may see a nice car and go that's nice, but I don't really crave to buy it. For this reason, I hope one day I will be able to raise enough money to build this school.

On top of this, I want to try bring light to my village. Just basic solar lights so we don't have to be in the dark. These are just somethings I want to do in my life and I hope to achieve them. :)

allthedumplings2 karma

That's awesome! It's great to see someone acting for the interests of others. You seem really driven, I'm sure you will achieve what your aiming for. I donated to your page, it's not much but I hope it helps make some difference :)

merrderber2 karma

THANK YOU SO MUCH. Honestly, anything counts!

mulberrybushes2 karma

Have you heard about Little Sun? I don,t think that they have gotten to your part of the world yet but they are amazing


merrderber3 karma

Thank you for showing me this! Maybe I should write to them?

tessiewessie3 karma

What did you do with the deceased people of your tribe?

merrderber2 karma

We bury them! Actually, before the whole burial thing, we use to chuck them on rocks and let the bodies dry out and put them on a small island off the coast but we don't do that anymore. :)

SagebrushPoet3 karma

It is so joyful to see so many smiling faces in your album. I am struck by how many collective images in the "Modern" society focus on sorrow and suffering. Do you sense a difference in how happy your relations are compared to what your friends in the rest of your new circle feel?

merrderber3 karma

Well, I myself am a very happy person and I really do enjoy making others happy as well. I find that no matter where I go, I am able to touch people with this little happiness I have and bring a smile to their face as well. I think this touch of happiness though has definitely come from my people. We all enjoy making each other laugh and we really are a community that helps one another. I try to do the same thing here and I have mixed reactions. Most people think I'm weird but the people who I have made friends with, we have real connections. I think it's just up to you whether you want to be happy and whether your connections will be happy.

toorik2 karma

How is it with psychological issues? How often does anxiety disorder or depression or suicides etc happen there and what is usually done to heal/prevent such issues?

merrderber3 karma

My mother is back and she answered it.

My grandmother Heca is mental and I think is schizophrenic. It was believed that someone in our blood would be mental and it was just an acceptable. She would just go with her dog and isolate herself from everybody and go off into the bush.

The next generation, my mother Linerva lost her mother very early on in life and isolated herself from the whole village and people just accepted that she was mental.

There was a man called Teddy when I grew up and he just lives at the end of the village and completely isolates himself. However, we always keep and an eye and look after him.

I think there are some psychological problems in the blood that are obviously passed down and we do take care of them.

ammolive2 karma

Hi, my question is how rare is it for people to leave the island that you lived on and go live in the Western world like you did for your education? Also, did your friends or other children that lived in your village stay there or did they have similar opportunities to leave for educational reasons like you did?

merrderber6 karma

I am the only one who left. I have many friends and family who got to the end of high school but couldn't go any further. I also have friends and family who can't even get into high school because of basic lack of resources. My granddad ensured that all his kids were properly educated and that meant a lot of sacrifice. He use to only where one pair of shorts because all his money went to his kids educational cost. In the end, my mother and her siblings were the only fully educated children from their village. Some parents aren't willing to make that sacrifice and will choose not to educate their children at all.

So overall, I am the only one who has been able to study in the Western World.

BonerMan_2 karma

Is there sex for pleasure in your village?

merrderber3 karma

Well people do have it for pleasure, but yer. It's taboo to have it for that. The main reason for sex is to reproduce but to timely reproduce. We don't want things like overpopulation so I guess you could say that in some sense the sex is controlled.

SquiffyMcSquifferton2 karma

Hello! How much of an impact is logging having on your island? Are the loggers there with permission? If so, by whom? What impact has it had on the island?

Thank you so much for doing these AMAs! A contribution has been made to Linerva's Legacy! You have an amazing spirit! <3

merrderber4 karma

Well, my mother has gone out to do groceries for a bit and will be back to explain her story but I'll explain a bit now. My mother grew up on a massive amount of land that was my grandmothers. They were forecfully removed from the land by the logging company because of corruption. So the logging company exploited the government and our resources to move us off the land. We went into a court battle with them and lost because I suspect judges may have been paid off.

We took it to court again and have been in a battle ever since. Sadly, the damage has already been done and my mothers childhood home has been completely wiped out. They have changed the place from thick beautiful rainforest, to complete barren wastelands.

Thank you so much for donating! I really appreciate it!

TheParkHyatt2 karma

Really great AMA. Sure I'm too late (hopefully you're still checking) but as a Linguist, I'm naturally interested in languages, so just wanted to know if English, even though the official language, was actually used all that much in reality. Was there more than one language happening in order to communicate with others around?

merrderber3 karma

Oh hell no. I just type in English so you guys understand! We speak touo or what we call rio. English is never spoken there and if you speak it, no one will understand you.

There are so many languages in Solomon Islands. Gosh as you move around the island, we speak the same language but the dialects are very different. Some of them are complete different languages. When I was younger I learnt about 3 languages just to communicate to local people.

MrMith1 karma

As you said before you said something about the lack of connection. How do you think that people could connect on a global scale? For an example when a person falls down, people do help them.

merrderber1 karma

Well of course you can't connect to everyone in the world silly! Start off with something small. Do you know your neighbors? I show as hell don't know mine. Maybe we should start getting to know them a bit more better. Maybe talk to that girl you see everyday at the bus stop. I don't know hey. I feel like doing simple things like this will make your life a happier one though!

_Just_Because1 karma

What's your favorite kind of sandwich?

merrderber1 karma

Normally anything with chicken. :)

xballroomblitz1 karma

You keep mentioning a "pre-Christian" era, when about was this?

Also, do you find your village/town shrinking due to people moving to the capital? or are people more or less staying where they grew up? (in other words, are stories like your own still rare or becoming more common?)

merrderber1 karma

I wouldn't know the exact date, but it would probably have to be in the 1800s. I'm not really sure myself nor is my mum.

See, to go to town, you at least need to be educated otherwise you'll find yourself homeless very quick. A lot of people stayed back in the village, especially my grandmother and mothers generation. My generation however, is more likely to go out and explore. The thing is, they don't have the funds to do so, so many of them have to stay in the village to survive. My story is still definitely rare.

jelliknight1 karma

That looks like such a beautiful life. Thanks for doing this AMA, I think you're right about the best things to take from each culture.

So it's probably vulgar but toilet paper and toilet habits are my main question. Do you use toilet paper on the island? What did you use before that and were there any problems with it? I see in the pictures you're building a toilet, have they always been used or is that a western influence? What about privacy, is it not a bit deal? What about contamination of food or water sources? I assume the men just wizz anywhere, do the girls just squat wherever to pee or is that frowned on?

I'm asking because I'm interested in sustainable living and poo seems to be the hardest to figure out.

Also good on you for stealing that bulldozer!

merrderber5 karma

Good question.

So toilet paper. I always bring a rolls from the capital because let's be honest here. My bum is accustomed to the smooth feel of the paper. If I don't have a roll, then leaves it is.

Leaves are no problem because they're pretty bio degradable. Toilet paper to some extent is to.

We were building a toilet for any westerner visitors we have. I have a brother in law who is really tough but things like toilets are an essential for outsiders. The reason why is if you want to go to the toilet, you go to the sea side and sit over a branch and let it go. Most westerners can't climb a tree so this is out of the question.

In the village there is like a place to poo and wee to. Yet again though, it is right near the sea side. If you see someone while you're doing your business, you just pretend you haven't seen them. I just put my shirt over my head.

Also, when you do your business, you have to move as far as you can from the river opening. No poo in the river at ANYTIME. This is seriously a major rule we keep because I don't want to be drinking other peoples poo. I hope I answered your question!

jelliknight1 karma

you did, thank you!

How many westerners have fallen into the ocean trying to take a dump? I bet I would :)

merrderber2 karma

Well, many of them don't even try. To climb onto a branch, it looks like walking on tightrope to them so they try and avoid it.

potato991 karma

How did you do a shit?

merrderber2 karma

I climb on a branch that overhangs the ocean and let it go.

potato991 karma

Sounds exiting I just open a lid

merrderber1 karma

Hmm definitely not as exciting, but hey. At least your don't have to worry about falling into your poo.

ZhanchiMan-1 karma

So, you didn't have water?

merrderber6 karma

You tell me?

LittleClitoris-1 karma

You didn't have food?

merrderber3 karma

You tell me?

Reed_Solomon-4 karma

So did it all end up terribly like in the movie the Mosquito Coast?

merrderber3 karma

I have never seen that movie before. :/

NoDiggityNoDoubt-6 karma

You mention you had nothing in the rainforest. Did you have any trees where you were?

merrderber6 karma

Hahha I meant that as an exaggeration obviously.

NoDiggityNoDoubt-8 karma

But I'm curious! :-)

merrderber6 karma

Well yes we did have trees.