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.

"Cane man" of Hula Remembered

                                                                                By BENNY SANDEKA

MANEMANEA Primary School on the coastline of Hula in the Rigo District of Central Province this week remembered a great teacher, disciplinarian, a fighter for woman rights and underprivileged and above all, a mentor of ethical, responsible behavior.
He is none other than Allan Jones (not the Australian TV commentator).  Allan Jones, from Adelaide in South Australia spent the best years of his life in Papua New Guinea - ten of them, in Hula where he was the headmaster of Manemanea Primary School.

Those ten years were not a total waste as his two nieces found out when they took a trip back to Hula and back in time to see where this great educator has spent his life. They were not surprised when people came out in numbers to tell how this great man has touched their lives during their association with him.

And when each one of them went down memory lane to recall different acts of discipline administered by Allan Jones, they wept openly because Allan Jones has had a great impact on their lives to make them become what they are now.

"He inspects us from head to toe every morning," one lady recalled. "When he finds that we have lice in our hair, he would push us into a bucket full of kerosene," she said.

Children who have long fingernails, he would use his cane, which he carries with him wherever he goes, and beat the fingers until the long fingernails come off. Girls with long unkempt hair are at the mercy of Allan Jones' scissors.

Many recalled that children would run off to their parents to seek refuge and ask them to face off with Allan Jones.  But when they arrive at the school, Allan Jones often gave them a long lecture on what good his discipline will do to their kids in the years ahead.

Given the stand he took, many people not only feared him, but also respected and had a high regard for this great educator whose method of educating people is not only confined to the limits of his classroom walls.

Allan Jones also had a heart of a saint. Whenever children are in the classroom and he sees a poor old woman carrying heavy loads, he would suspend his entire class and ask the boys to help the elderly woman to wherever she is going.  There are other times when Allan invites children to have dinner with him at his house. During the course of the dinner, he would instill in them table manners like "excuse me, pass the salt please" etc..

During the holidays, Allan Jones would take some children down to Australia.  But one former student recalls, it was not all a vacation.

"After breakfast, he will ask us many questions about what we did not understand in school. We will sit down and read and write every morning during the vacation," the student recalled.

But despite these, a few remember lighter moments. There is a girl whom Allan Jones affectionately calls "Alice in Wonderland" for letting her mind slip off during class times and would not concentrate. Allan Jones also took her to Australia where she had a good time looking after his cats at his Adelaide home.  Another, he affectionately calls "Joy Bells" because her name was Joy and that she was given the opportunity ringing the bells at appointed times.

Many stories of this great man about in Hula especially those who have been through Manemanea Primary School during his administration.

Having an impact in the hearts and minds of people with whom he has spent his best days of his life, Allan Jones' cremated remains were brought back by two of his great nieces, Kathee Bowyer and Louise Jeffery to be laid among the people whom he has inspired.

A memory was erected to his honour and the school in which he was ruled with ultimate discipline was renamed after him - the Manemanea Primary School now being called, the Allan Jones Memorial School.
Rigo District Administrator, District Education Advisor and local level government president of the area where all there to witness 'home coming' of the late Allan Jones remains and change of name of the school.

Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (RWSSP)

TWO separate theories in human history have the same beginning:  The Theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin and the Creation Myth in the Christian faith has something in common.  And that is water.
According to the patriarch, Genesis 1:1 says that in the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate.  The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness and the Spirit of God was moving over the water.  Again as you reflect the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin, you will remember your science teacher talking about a single cell amoeba emerging from the water and that was the first creation of life.

Two atoms of hydrogen and one  of oxygen combine together to give life to earth.  This liquid without color, taste or smell is indeed the most essential element of human life but has been overlooked and given little nor no attention at all in every phase of development.  As you sit back and take stock of the recipes that make up human life, you will notice that water (H2O) is inclusive in every thing we do.  It is life and death!

In this article, I wish to expound on this important human need and illustrate its importance in the lives of everyone who needs it badly.  You will go on to read about amazing things an organization is doing to eradicate water borne diseases by providing sustainable water and sanitation management programs in the country.

In 2006, the government of Papua New Guinea and the European Union developed a partnership to involve in the funding of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program (RWSSP) in the country.

An EU grant of K12.8 million was awarded for the implementation of the first phase of RWSSP.  In the first phase which began in 2006 and ended two years later, grants were given to 30 non state actors (NSA) who worked with 133 different communities, providing access to clean water and sanitation for 76,700 beneficiaries.

Harewelle International and Mott MacDonald of United Kingdom are implementing the European Union funded Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Program in the country.  They are a group of committed and industrious individuals working in some of the most remote parts of this country providing technical advice and assistance in promoting access to save water supply ad sanitation facilities.

No roads means nothing.  Water is a need.  Walking two hours every day to fetch water for drinking, cooking and washing is a chronic hassle for many communities, especially mothers and children in this country.   
"Without water, there is no life," Stuart Jordan, Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Program engineer said when discussing about the programs implemented thus far under the European Union funding.

The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (RWSSP) funded by the Government of Papua New Guinea and the European Union commenced in February 2006 under the supervision of the Department of Health.

Phase I of the Programme was completed in August, 2008. The Phase I budget included a provision of Euro 3.5 million (K12 million) for the implementation of RWSS projects over two years and eight months. Due to a satisfactory performance, Phase II started in January 2009, and will run for three years with a substantially larger budget for RWSS project implementation.

On Wednesday this week, contracts were signed to pave the way for the implementation and sanction of the second phase of the programme. The seven non-state actors involved include ADRA, Salvation Army, Baptist Union, Oxfam and CARE. 

Under this programme, 35 district health officers will be trained in up-to-date hygiene and sanitation promotion methodologies.  These district officers will work alongside NSA staff in promoting life-saving hygiene behavior change, preventing diarrheal diseases and epidemics such as cholera, typhoid and flu.
The expected outcome of this second phase of the programme will see water and sanitation schemes in approximately 400 rural villages, 20,000 improved toilets, 170 gravity fed systems, 1,300 water tanks (rain catchment) and 70 shallow wells and boreholes. This means 230, 000 people in rural communities are expected to benefit from the programme.

The RWSSP has been designed to optimize rapid implementation by channeling grants through NSA with existing experience and capacity for implementing integrated, community demand driven, small-scale RWSS projects.

NSAs are contracted for the implementation of RWSS projects based on the approval of proposals they submit to RWSSP. The proposals were evaluated by a committee comprising the Department of Health, The Department of National Planning and Monitoring and the Office of Rural Development. A key area of concern for RWSSP was the sustainability of the RWSS schemes constructed. This was addressed during Phase I through an appropriate community development strategy and procedures, including arrangements through which requests for RWSS schemes were driven by community demand.

This strategy is considered essential in order to avoid the mistakes of previous RWSS projects in PNG which failed to create sufficient sense of community ownership due to a top-down implementation approach of donors, government and implementing agencies. To promote community ownership and sustainability of RWSS schemes community contributions to a project, in cash and in kind is a pre-requisite.

To become implementing partners NSAs need to have existing general management capacity as well as capacity either for the complete implementation of integrated RWSS projects or else capacity in one or more of component areas (community development, capacity building, RWSS technical design/construction, training or awareness raising on cross cutting issues of HIV/AIDS and gender) gained from the other projects of a similar nature.

An NSA capacity building component was developed by RWSSP to enable an increasing number of NSAs to access and manage programme funds over the programme period and to broaden the geographical coverage of the Programme. Capacity building was, and will continue to be, directed primarily towards strengthening and supporting the NSA to implement and integrate the various component areas of RWSS projects as required by the RWSSP.

In order to improve sustainability further, and to prioritize hygiene and sanitation, capacity building of NSAs during Phase II will concentrate more upon Community Management, Community Led Total Sanitation, Participatory Hygiene & Sanitation Transformation and Participatory Water Supply & Use Decision Making. This is expected to produce higher sustainable outputs, and results which may be considered international standard of working best-practice.

Under Phase II the networking of communities, NSAs and local level government will receive increased attention. By bringing together the stakeholders involved it is hoped that the projects and the capacity of the NSAs will be enhanced so that on the completion of the programme there will remain well maintained schemes and the skills to further meet the needs for clean water and improved access to sanitation. In addition the creation of working partnerships between stakeholders should result in longer term development benefits in the area.

Globally, 1.1 billion people lack safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people are without sanitation.  The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicates halving this proportion by 2015. 
So far, a lot is desired for Papua New Guineans to take ownership of these initiatives and embrace the programs in our villages. 

"Mothers can make more gardens if the time spent in fetching clean water is minimized," Stuart said.
If Eda Ranu and Water board concentrate in providing clean and safe water to the 16 percent of the urban dwellers, the other 84 percent in the rural areas need help from somewhere else.  The European Union funded RWSSP seems the way for now.
Note: In the next issue, I wish to discuss with you impact projects implemented in some of our rural areas.  We'll keep in touch.  wgabana@yahoo.com

Logging sites potential breeding grounds for prostitution and corruption

By DERRICK KII REUBEN - Parliamentary Reporter

'SEPIK sex ring busted' as reported in The National (18/02/2010), is just a tip of an ice berg where our local women and young girls as well as students are lured into having sex with foreigners for money and other valuable items as well as with the hope for better lives.

Unfortunately, that story never went further to explain how long these immoral activities have been going on at the logging site, the origins of the company and the nationality of the employees.

There are far too many cases of similar incidents occuring everyday at logging sites throughout the nation and especially in the coastal areas. Exploitation of our young women has sadly gone unreported simply because no law enforcing agencies, woman groups or churches put up the fight against these perpetrators or aliens at the village level.
It is also a sad scenario when our government officials are involved and are collaborating in such illegal activities.    

 I first came to notice similar strange conduct and behaviors by foreign employees of an Asian owned logging company in 2003.
During December of that year a friend and I were on our way to my his village when we decided to spend two days at Boroai logging camp near Napanapa Oil Palm plantation in the Mile Bay Province.

In that camp I noticed with interest there were semi wooden houses constructed below hilltops which housed the expatriate supervisors and foremen while some of the locals who came from far distances just to get employed there were forced into 'dog cage' like long wooden structures divided into blocks without any sleeping utilities. It was mere open space with pure rough wooden floor and roofing.
These young men were full of muscles and energy and would not bother about the freezing cold and buzzing mosquitoes all night after the day's hard work starting from around 6:30 a.m and they would often finish late in the afternoon depending on what time they were picked up.

Among them some of whom I had the privilege of interviewing expressed with frustration how they were treated by their bosses who were of Asian origin.
One such notable mistreatment they raised was concerning their wages. Most of the new recruits were really underpaid. Even after long hours of work some of them would be paid on an hourly rate of K1.00 - K1.50. In a fortnight they would normally receive K75 - K90, all of which goes towards their living expense and nothing much was left to send to their families back home.
"If we were to stay back home we would hardly have any cash in our hands so we come here and work hard at least to earn something" one said with smiles on his face yet deep within one would easily tell he wasn't a happy man.
Even today Asian owned logging companies continue to pay our local workers at K1.50 to K1.80 per hour, which was the case during my visit last Christmas to Sabiribo village in the Abau District - logging is currently underway operated by Tion Cung, a Malaysian owned company.   This is in direct breach of National Minimum Wage Board approved rate. 
So life goes on for these young and middle aged men and women most of whom are illiterate or achieved formal education as far as grade 6. Each day brings greater challenges for them without somebody to fall back to air their concerns and grievances.
For the beautiful young girls, their engagements were for a different reason. They were given jobs like house cleaning, laundry, cooking and clerical office work. And what goes on behind closed doors is anybody's guess.
I had actually saw few pregnant girls residing at that particular camp and I was reliably told that they were victims of sexual abuse on a daily basis. 
I was also told that most of these young women were made pregnant in exchange for job engagement and on-the-spot cash payments for sex.
Literally, these foreigners of Asians origin had no respect for the customs and traditions that exists there.
What happens there is a direct result of the remoteness and nil existence of rural based economic activities that forced young men into slavery and girls are vulnerable to exploitation and losing their virginity to foreigners.
To make matters worse I could not see an officer from the National Forest Authority who would normally be stationed at the logging site to monitor all timber put down and being exported.
If there was any, they may have been based at Alotau, the capital of Milne Bay Province, which is about a hundred kilometers away from the logging site. What goes up in the jungle was all at the mercy of the logging company.
Bribery seemed prevalent at such a logging site when dealing with Government officials thus, last week's report in one of the dailies (18/02/010) concerning a senior female government officer among local girls involved in providing sexual favours to the foreigners in the East Sepik province was not a surprise to many. 
It is about time the National Government through its line agencies like the National Forest Authority, Labour Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration tighten-up the existing laws as well as make new amendments to fix the loop-holes to ensure our land and its people no longer fall victims in the hands of foreigners. 

Author's note: The logging company that operated in the Boroai left when its contract expired and today there is no tangible development brought in by that company.     
For further information Derrick can be contacted on the following. Email: rderrickkii@yahoo.com.au