Feature Articles

Welcome to this week's feature stories. The stories are from various Papua New Guinean writers. The main highlight this week is the story on .....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rebuilding Lelefiru away from the raging sea

                                                                             By LINA KEAPU

IN EVERY island there is a dreadful situation that's taking the livelihood of people especially when global warming or climate change is taking place rapidly.

Let me introduce you to a little group of people that live along the coastline of the Gulf of Papua. That is the Lelefiru village, the last village in the East Kerema Local Level Government in the Gulf Province. They may not be known to the rest of Papua New Guinea and the world like other rural villages along the coast that are being hit by the rising sea level and their situation is not being recognized by the authorities concerned, like for instance the Caterets Islands. 

Lelefiru village has become seabed to marine life. The effect of the sea rise has affected Lelefiru much more than the other villages around her. Subsequently the entire village was completely washed out in recent years.
Having been relocated back inland to Lahoposa where their great grandparents used to garden in the last century, the village school was also built there. The villagers have started life all over again. Apparently they have lost everything their great grandfathers have built from generation to generation, including the United Church building that was built between 1980 and 1990.

When we see the history of the church, it took ten years of constructing the building which was then opened in December 1991. The Church building carried a lot of memories of people who worked tirelessly both physically and financially to build a permanent house of worship for the villagers. Sympathetically, most of the heroes that put up the church building no longer exist. At the time of the rising sea the church building was about 14 years old. Unfortunately that memorable church building no longer stands.

Sadly, Lelefiru under this disastrous situation has not received any assistance from the Provincial nor National Government.  It really was every man for himself this painful five years.

Now the village, situated three to five kilometers inland has no school nor proper church building. The villagers are focused in rebuilding their village. Initially the elders of the village should have been taking the lead, seeking assistance from the Provincial Government and authorities concerned for this disaster, instead they have just seen the entire village vanish into the sea water.

Lelefiru village has a religious group called the Lelefiru Women Fellowship (LFW). This particular group began some 80 years ago. The present Lelefiru WF, like any in the United Church region in PNG, is the work inherited by their mothers and even great grandmothers.

The WF has become the main force in the major activities and projects in the village. These developments in a re-located site after the rising sea level in 2006/7 are a matter of some marvel because they challenge the conventional practice of male dominance in all areas of life. In year 2000 the WF completed a furnished modern residence for their congregation pastor. All processes of planning, organizing and fundraising has been the initiative of the women.

The current pastor of Lelefiru village, Kave Eka emphasized on the rebuilding of Lelefiru on God's Law of love during a basket exchange ceremony held in the village over the festive season between the village-based women's fellowship and Port Moresby Lelefiru women's fellowship.  They also raised K12, 000 for the new church building (NCB) on the 25th of December 2009. He said, the theme; "Rebuilding Lelefiru" is not an easy task but he is committed and determined to bring together a taskforce from different walks of life.

He said the "pastor-does-it-all" approach will curb the work which God has given to every person in the village. He said he will call for a new mindset and a new attitude proactive to what leaders are doing to rebuild Lelefiru.

For years, the WF have combined their collective knowledge, enterprise and initiative to structure their own fellowship work environment to produce these great results.
The next NCB fundraising basket is planned for the 26th December 2010. Pastor Kave said they hope to make it a bigger and better one to get everyone.

In his keynote address to the women and the village as a whole, the pastor extracted a text from the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. He said when we read through we see when Nehemiah heard the news of the broken walls and the burnt gates of Jerusalem, he wept.

This reflects the fact that while it is true that God is in the throne he will bring good out of evil. That truth does not legitimate the feelings of sorrow that arise within a person. Thus Nehemiah faced these facts of honest feeling rising in his heart for his Jerusalem. Nehemiah was in a foreign city serving the government of that nation.

"The broken walls and the burnt gates of Jerusalem portrays the old Lelefiru, the Lelefiru you once adored as home is all gone.  The school closed down for two years. The church building was destroyed by the swelling waves and the pastor's house was left abandoned at the mercy of the angry waves only to be rescued before it was destroyed."

Pastor Eka said the theme, Rebuilding Lelefiru, in itself is quite a challenge but the village looks forward to building a team of loyal families and friends who will support and give financially. "For this concept the interim working committee is appealing to their brothers and sisters "Lelefiru Atutemori" living in and around the country and abroad to assist rebuild their home. 

If you have the sympathy for your Lelefiru, it is the that you are a true son of Lelefiru, therefore we need you in the rebuilding task.

For more information on the new church building project, call the Lelefiru WF Chairlady Mrs. Sari Posu on mobile #  (675) 7288 4099 or the Secretary Mrs. Horope Mesea on mobile # (675)7687 4594.

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