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Jerry Garry, the PNG geologist who helped rewrite Afghanistan’s mining laws

Insurgent attacks were continuing. It was in this climate that he arrived in Kabul in 2012.

Jerry
Jerry Garry: The Afghan are among the kindest people I have met.

Not many Papua New Guineans outside mining circles     know about a geologist named Jerry Garry from Simbu.

His contributions have helped resurrect the economies of countries devastated by decades of war. He has implanted Papua New Guinean models of mining legislation in Afghanistan and helped in the building of the largest iron ore mine in Sierra Leone after the civil war.

In South Africa, he gained additional university qualifications as a diamond expert.

He then went on to become the first Papua New Guinean General Manager of a multi-national miner, managing the company’s diamond division which held portfolios in various African countries.

The son of a Seventh Day Adventist missionary, Jerry Garry   was born in 1967. After completing high school at Kabiufa, he went on to study geology at the University of Papua New Guinea. His first taste of real mining, like many Papua New Guinean geologists,   was at Ok Tedi in 1991.

Post graduate studies took him to the University of Ballarat in Australia. Then he joined a Canadian company, Iriana Resources that operated in Indonesia.

His thirty year career, has been whirlwind of experiences, in eight countries around the world.

Jerry Garry is a trailblazer in his own right. His most important assignment came in 2012.   Whilst working in on a European Union funded project in Wau, Morobe Province,   a job came up. The World Bank wanted a Deputy Team Leader for a group of mining experts who were to be sent to war-torn Afghanistan.

“After a few emails, I got a call from Germany. At the time I was quite excited. I knew it was going to be exciting and I was looking forward to the challenge”

After all the formalities had been completed. Jerry Garry,   landed in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.   In 2012, the country was in a period of transition. US-led coalition troops stationed there,   had begun the process of handing over security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

But the armed insurgent attacks on the troops and civilians were continuing. It was in this climate that the Simbu geologist arrived in Kabul with   his team of international colleagues.

“The first thing I saw when I arrived in Kabul was a sign that said: ‘WELCOME TO THE LAND OF THE BRAVE.’

“As we were driving, there were people weeping on the side of the road. They said a mortar bomb had gone off just before we arrived.

“That gave you a picture of what was happening in the country when we arrived.”

Garry and his team were met by a contingent of   German troops who took them to the briefing center. The Germans were in charge of their security from there on.

As Deputy Team Leader, Jerry Garry, was responsible for the safety of the multinational team operating in one of the most dangerous locations in the world.   The team worked to develop a capacity building program for the Ministry of Mines of the Government of Afghanistan.

Operating in a non-English speaking country, Garry’s innate skills in Melanesian diplomacy and negotiation was put to the test.

“As a Papua New Guinean, I was able to go to the   people with sincerity and empathize with them. I was able to connect with them without being judgmental.

“And the Afghani, when they realized what I was doing, appreciated this very much and I earned a lot of respect from them.”

After 30 years of constant war and conflict,   Afghanistan’s economy was in tatters. Its experts had either been killed or had escaped from the troubled country.   It was a massive task for the small team.

“After 30 years, all the understanding and technologies had evolved. They had missed out. We were helping them connect the dots.”

Since ancient times, the country has been embroiled in various conflicts over resources.   Afghanistan sits on a rich band of mineral deposits that runs from Europe through to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and the Himalayas.

Using his own experiences, Garry helped develop legislation that made the Afghanistan Department of Mines the regulator of mining operations in the country – a legislative model like that used in  Papua New Guinea.

With Afghanistan struggling with the piece meal approach of aid delivery and funding, the team developed a concept that wove in   transport infrastructure development that linked resource rich areas of the country.

“We designed railroads and deployed a ring road that created resource development corridors for the country.

“We developed and built a system that would be sustainable and would help the people of Afghanistan when we left.”

Garry said the media coverage of the country greatly misrepresents the Afghan people.   He found the similarities between Papua New Guinea and the Afghanis, striking.

“The country itself is very challenging. In Helmand province, temperatures can rise to 40-50 degrees Celsius and in winter drop below zero. So they are a very strong people.

“They are dependent on each other. Communal living is a critical element of survival. And They are the kindest people I have met.”

Afghanistan wasn’t his first dangerous assignment. Twelve years earlier, Jerry Garry, was in Sierra Leone. The West African country had just come out of a bloody civil war and the government was desperate to rebuild the economy.

“The UN peace keeping force was there. There was no infrastructure. Everything had been destroyed. The GDP had fallen below zero.”

Africa, gave Jerry Garry, a brand new experience.   For the first time, he was learning about a rock he as unfamiliar with.   In this period, he spent time in South Africa gaining additional qualifications on diamond mining. He became Papua New Guinea’s first diamond expert.

He spent the next seven years, traversing the length and breath of Sierra Leone, looking for new opportunities. But they didn’t come easy. Eventually, the company he worked for opened up Tonkolili, Sierra Leone’s biggest iron ore mine.

Within the first few years of the mine’s operation, the country’s GDP saw a 15 percent jump in its growth.

“You know, to see the economy of a country turn around because you contributed to it… it’s an indescribable feeling.

“It is the pinnacle of career satisfaction. There is nothing like it.”

Despite all his achievements, Jerry Garry, holds his missionary dad and his mum close to his heart.

“My parents were the people who implanted the direction I would take in life.

“My dad was a missionary. He had nothing. But he would walk for miles to spread the gospel. He had a mission to accomplish.

Jerry Garry says the money and the materialism matter very little to him. When he graduated, the challenge was about being the first to do things.

“When people talk about me, they refer to me as the Papua New Guinean geologist. That is when you feel the burden of the country on your shoulders.

“We have to be ambassadors of Papua New Guinea.”

21 comments on “Jerry Garry, the PNG geologist who helped rewrite Afghanistan’s mining laws

  1. Met this Hero Geologist and he told me exactly whatever is articulated. He is good gentleman and a good friend to me. A simple and easy going gentleman yet young and very active.He should be fully utilized by PNG gov’t or other overseas based mining.Now he is available in PNG.

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  2. Wow inspirational. I would like to hear more about this article. Please contact me on steven.ponjel@gmail.com

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  3. wow.. what a great experience he has gained all these years. he is a shinning example for our young people to follow as a role model. I hope that he makes time available to meet them, when he is in the country.

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  4. Very inspirational statement

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  5. Gideon Gelesi

    I am so proud to learn about my classmates (UPNG Science Foundation -1986 & 1987) who are some of the trailblazers, humble in their spirits and making their contributions to making this world a better place to live in.

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  6. Steven Gena

    A proud son of Simbu. You have shown the world that Simbus can probe it.With you bro!

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  7. Lazarus Warmil Kiruai

    One of my role model. Heared all his story and was really amazed. Should be given ultimate recognition by the GoPNG.

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  8. E. Bakri Dumu

    “The Diamond man”, Jerry Garry!

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  9. Jesse Suah

    That is truly a blessing. Credit to God. “Without Him we can do nothing” John 15:5.

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  10. Rosaline Lapan Baker

    Excellent example of what can happen when God becomes the centre of our lives. Jerry Garry, your parents brought you into the world to help the suffering. Praise be to God. RLBAKER

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  11. Manoah Mathias

    I knew that person during my childhood days in his village…During his university holidays, he comes home mending his sugar cane garden dressed in traditional attire (tanget leaves) chasing me and his little brother away from his sugar cane…Really a very humble guy…He ripped the blessing of his missionary pastor…God bless him as he continue to fly the country’s flag around the world….Mathias

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  12. Very inspiring story! Jerry Garry’s profile and other profiles if other Papua New Guibeans like him should be published in a career guidance book to be used by primary, high, secondary, tertiary schools/ institutions/colleges and universities in PNG Education System. Such stories will inspire and motivate students to set goals and work hard to achieve their dreams! Well done Kumugl Jerry Garry!

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  13. Richard Tabogani

    Prophesy fulfilling that the most Eastern Nations will restore nations in the West…Jerry Garry, Yah has created you for a purpose and that is to serve the war torn nations of the world. Yah caused your parents to plant a seed in your life (a fertile soil) and now they see the fruits of the seeds they sowed, what a joy your family must have for you. Never forget the one person who has always kept you safe in those war torn countries and always keep him close at heart, his name is Yahveh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Yacob. May Adonai be that light of hope and shalom (peace) in you for those nations. Well done and Yah Bless Always!

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  14. Jerry Garry is Competitive internationally that is why he was the man behind Afghan Mining Laws Reviewing and Updating. He has put a mark in Afghan mining history and has drawn international attention because of that. Now PNG should be thankful PNGeans such as Jerry Garry has contributed in really putting PNG on the global map in terms of competency in geoscience. #SimbuWithBrains&Attitude!

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  15. Lucas Michael

    Wow what an insperation Jerry! Thank you for raising PNGs flag internationally and being a great ambassador for our nation.

    If my memory serves me right, I think I met Jerry briefly while in transit at Changi Airport in Singapore when he was heading back to Sierra Leone or DRC while I was on my way back to PNG around 2004 or 2005. My humble recollection of the reflection of Jerry was a very smart and intelligent PNGEAN yet very humble.

    I recommend the Government through the Mining Ministry to please identify an opportunity to engage Jerry’s services to assist sort the various mining issues we have currently.

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  16. Such an inspiration to us young Papua New Guineans. Truly moving stuff. Thank you Jerry Garry.

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  17. Paul M. Yanis

    I had the pleasure and the opportunity to meet this incredible Papua New Guinean back in the late 90s through a brother who both had shared a same professional background.
    Yes on a accurate face value judgement I knew Mr Garry was indeed a humble down to earth person but a true professional with vast knowledge and experience in the field of Geology who can take you miles if given the opportunity.
    Well done bro, you have not only done your parents proud but the country as a all proud to.
    Cheers.

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  18. Alphonse Kee

    My hero, welcome done. Its always a unique Chimbu will always put the rest of Papua New Guinea on the World Map. Thanks JG.

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  19. Gabriel Gerry

    As a chimbu man, am so proud of your achievements. Congratulations

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  20. Engi Eniu

    Stories like this just make a Papua New Guinean heart swell with national pride.
    Jerry, God has place you where you are to help people of war torn nations and also show them God’s love. Continue to humble yourself before God and he will continue to lift and sustain you.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Michael Seddam

    Very inspirational..Such individuals should be the role models of our younger generations..

    Like

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