Megan Bayliss goes to Jail

by Megan Bayliss | August 22, 2016 11:40 am

By the end of this week I will be behind bars: in Jail. In Bomana Women’s Jail, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. I’ll be in jail for something I didn’t do. Where is the social justice in that!

The cemetery contains 3,824 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 699 of them unidentified.

The cemetery has 3,824 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 699 of them unidentified.

I was born and grew up in Port Moresby. I lived in Murray Barracks and went to school at St Josephs[1] at Boroko. We regularly visited Bomana War Cemetery[2], right beside the jail I have ended up at. Many childhood holidays were spent at Salamaua (LOVE that place) and it is there that all my jail-leading activities began.


Megan Bayliss (and siblings), arms folded, snorkel and mask on, sitting on a lakatoi at Salamaua, PNG.

I learnt to weave on the beach, under the palm trees, at Salamaua. Meri’s taught me. As an adult, I changed the weave from palm leaf to garbage…and now I talk garbage all the time.

I teach weaving garbage to the female inmates at Bomana Women’s Prison. Every couple of months, I head back to Moresby to run workshops in the prison and to help the inmates develop sustainable micro businesses for themselves. I love my time behind bars.

I teach the inmates to weave; they make woven bags for me to buy. I pay almost full retail price for the product, bring it back to Australia, put an extra $5.00 on it, sell it and all that money goes back to the women of Port Moresby to create a better life for themselves and their families.

It is a crime that I didn’t act on this social enterprise business model sooner: a miscarriage of social justice. For years I toyed with the idea but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. It wasn’t until I volunteered with Operation Food for Life[3] that the idea became a reality.

My original aim was to teach the people of Baruni Dump to weave as a pathway out of poverty. However, safety and Border Control requirements (weaving must be done inside so that grass seeds do not become trapped inside weaves) suggested I take a different look at how I set up weaving college.

Rather than the maxim “do the crime: do the time,” I did it the other way around. I did the [thinking] time and it got me into crime – weaving with the most gorgeous women in Bomana Prison.

Keep an eye on our facebook page[4] if you would like to buy a woven bag made by women in Bomana Jail. I will be returning home Sept 12, 2016, with product galore and will list them for sale on facebook.

Keep talking garbage. Mxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  1. St Josephs:
  2. Bomana War Cemetery:
  3. Operation Food for Life:
  4. our facebook page:
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